As a GCN volunteer you expect to fill the role of giver, giving of your time, efforts, money and heart. During a recent trip to Nepal, I felt more like a wide receiver for a pro football team, with countless blessings being passed my way! It started before I even left with support from a bunch of people, some of whom I don't even know, my sponsors through fundraising.
"They will invite you right into their homes and make tea and feed you and tell you such wonderful stories. This has been a very overwhelming, humbling, and beautiful experience. Just looking at the great Himalayas brings tears to my eyes."—GCN trip participant
The GCN team will be living and working with the Tibetan Refugees in the Pokhara Valley of Nepal. Located 45 minutes by plane from Kathmandu are the 4 Tibetan refugee settlements of Tashi Palkheil, Jampaling, Tashi Ling, and Paljorling. The skyline is dominated by the 26,000-foot range of the Annapurna Mountains, but the Pokhara region is located at a lower elevation than Kathmandu and as a result is warm and pleasant in autumn and winter. Since 1999, GCN has partnered with the Lodrik Welfare Committee, a group of Tibetan refugee leaders dedicated to their community. Decisions for the settlement are made as a group and on behalf of the collective. The Lodrik Welfare Committee has invited GCN teams to partner with local settlement families to repair damaged roofs in the community.
After arriving in Kathmandu, the team leader will gather the group together and stay the night in a trekker lodge. The next day, the team will fly about 45 minutes to Pokhara and have the day to explore the village surrounded by the beautiful lake and the Himalayas. The following day, the team will be escorted by the leaders of the Lodrik Welfare Committee to travel Jampaling, located an hour outside of Pokhara. There they will settle into the group quarters where they will be staying for the duration of the trip. At the end of the trip, the GCN participants will return via the same flight with one overnight in Kathmandu. Many trip participants choose to extend their stay and go trekking in Pohkara, visit the village's tea shops or relax by the pristine lake after their time in village.
A Day in Community
As the sun rises over the Tibetan village, the team awakes in their communal quarter. Rousing at the break of dawn, some participants stroll around the camp while others meditate, do yoga or journal. After a breakfast of local pancakes, hard boiled eggs and butter tea, the team prepares for a day filled with exchanges and learnings. Some participants join the local cook to shop for groceries at the market. Others walk to the project work site to move rocks, mix cement and move cement. The team reunites for a lunch of rice and dal, squash and cucumber. In the afternoon, the team may be invited to tour a local school or visit a home or temple. Other may help harvest rice with local community members or have tea. The team returns to their quarters in the evening to gather and reflect on their activities, exchanges and insight from the day before settling in for the evening with a game of cards or writing in journals.
Water: Boiled or Bottled
Nearest Hospital: Pokhara/Community clinic
Altitude: In Kathmandu-4,500 ft. above sea level; In Pokhara- 2,480 ft. above sea level
Program fees cover on-site accommodations (lodging and meals), in-country transportation, orientation materials, a donation to the project, emergency medical and evacuation insurance, and a team leader to manage logistics and facilitate your cultural immersion experience. Airfare to/from Kathmandu and costs relating to activities outside of the village are an additional responsibility of the individual participant.