Why we volunteer

4th December 2019

Why do we volunteer? Surely it’s easier to stay at home bingeing on pizza and Netflix, right? Well the UN estimates that 970 million people volunteer worldwide, and in Nepal there are hundreds of Raleigh volunteers every year. This International Volunteer Day, volunteer Communications Officer Ursula captures the voices of volunteers working for change in Nepal and why they are doing it.

Around 160 volunteers (both national and international) are currently scattered across various rural corners of Nepal for Raleigh’s ICS and Expedition programmes. These volunteers help provide villages with water, conduct sessions on sanitation and hygiene, support communities to develop better livelihoods and take part in the Expedition trek.

Each and every volunteer here has their own motivations for volunteering in Nepal. This is what they had to say…

Ursula, Communications Officer

Personally, I took three months out of my communications career in the UK National Health Service, to nurture my love of communications in a challenging new environment. Jaded with the impact I was making in my job back home, my biggest motivation was that, I wanted to feel that I was spending my days really making a difference. Oh, and I really wanted to see the Himalayas.

Ursula, Expedition Volunteer Communications Officer

As a volunteer here, there have been many amazing moments. The look on your aamaa’s face when she pours water from her new tap for the first time (and then you all eat dal baht to celebrate); the lifelong friends made while digging for victory as you lay pipelines that will supply remote villages with clean, accessible water; encouraging your fellow trekkers that they can make it to the top, whilst snow-capped mountains loom in your vision.

Kai, ICS Volunteer

Kai who is working on livelihoods projects in the Ghorka village of Ghumti. He said:

“I’ve always been interested in Nepal. I just want to make a positive change in a community, I think that’s something amazing,”

Sauradbh, ICS Volunteer
Saurabh, ICS Volunteer (picture by Clara Isla)

In the same host village, Saurabh explained how carrying out baseline surveys helped him see why he was there:

“In one house, people were living comfortably and in another house the family didn’t have food to eat or a toilet. I want to help improve the lifestyle of these people, I want to do something for my society and country.” Saurabh has been doing this by helping the villagers build polytunnels to grow crops out of season and develop business plans.

Bikal, Expedition Volunteer
Bikal, Expedition Volunteer

Volunteering can also help us develop as a person. Taking part in Raleigh helped Bikal come out of his shell:

“I’ve improved my leadership skills. Before I was an introverted, shy person and now I am talking with other people without hesitation. Before, I was only comfortable sitting with a group of two or three people but now, I’m able to speak within a group of 20 or 30.”

Emma, ICS volunteer
Emma, ICS Volunteer, with some of her team members

Volunteering can help us decide how we want to spend our lives, as ICS volunteer Emma has found:

“I finished my college course and thought it would be a great idea to experience different cultures to see if anything inspired me, and learn about things that I might not have considered before. The food I’ve had while volunteering has made me think I might do something with international nutrition.”

Kathy, Logistics Coordinator
Kathy, Volunter Logistics Coordinator, out in community

But you don’t just have to be on your gap year to volunteer. Semi-retired Kathy took three months out of her life managing mental health services to be our logistics coordinator. She’s been providing the materials our volunteers need to take part in WASH and livelihoods projects in Nepali communities:

“It’s given me a lot more confidence about what to do next, just because you’re retired doesn’t mean you haven’t got those skills and experience. Something I do notice where I’ve perhaps helped younger people is it’s all new to them whereas I’ve seen it all before. That experience does count for quite a bit, so that has been validating.”

Addison, Raleigh Medic
Addison, Raleigh Medic (picture by Ursula Turner)

Volunteering can be an experience in itself or a springboard to something else. Raleigh Medic Addison is using his skills as a doctor to nurture a long-held interest in expedition medicine:

“I’ve done various courses so it’s nice to put some of that into practice. This gives me my first experience of working in these kinds of environments and I plan to take that and go on to do more expedition-type medicine in the future.”

Pratik, Expedition volunteer

Volunteering has helped me see that helping others can change, not just societies, but our own lives too. Up in the village of Dadiswara, Pratik took time out of learning to test soil to help his host villagers grow crops to tell me:

“Be the change and bring the change.” Maybe it really is as simple as that.


For more information and the latest updates, please follow the progress of our programmes in Nepal on Facebook and Instagram. To find out how you can volunteer with us, please click here

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