Charlotte van Beek - 2016 Program Participant

What inspired you to go abroad?

I really wanted to do volunteering abroad, and specifically something with children; it was just one of those things that I really wanted to do. I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn more about another culture and country, myself, and the world. By volunteering, I hoped I'd make this world a tad bit better.

International volunteer at an orphanage in Nepal
Last day at the orphanage

Why did you choose The Love Company?

To me, the really big organisations were too expensive and I knew that most of that money probably wouldn't go to where I wanted my money to go. So, I kept looking and Googling and found The Love Company orphanage. Since the organisation is so small and personal, it was cheaper and I knew that my money went to the children (and also to my food, transportation, and accommodation).

What was your favorite part about Nepal?

Since I can't choose, my two favourite parts about Nepal were, firstly, the kind people and, secondly, the amazing nature. The people were just so very friendly, and the nature was stunning, the hills, the mountains, and just the magnitude of the country.

Paragliding above Pokhara, Nepal
Paragliding above Pokhara

What made your experience abroad unique?

Pfew, difficult question. I think everyone's experience abroad is unique. I guess my experience was unique because it was my experience. My adventure.

How did local staff support you throughout your program?

The local staff (which is actually just one person, the owner of the orphanage) supported me a lot. He organised my whole accommodation, transport from Kathmandu to Pokhara, and my food. Besides that, he made sure I felt at home and that I would always have someone to talk to if I encountered any problems.

What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?

Nothing really, no regrets! Oh, maybe that I would have known from day one that you can drink the tap water, as long as you put an aquatab in your bottle (iodine) and wait for half an hour. And, I would have brought my own (reusable) water bottle, it would have saved quite a few plastic bottles.

Describe a typical day in the life of your volunteer program.

I'd get ready and have breakfast at Krishna's home at 8:30 a.m. (he's the owner of the organisation and is a man with a big heart). I'd have an egg, brown bread, apple, banana, and tea. Then I'd walk to the orphanage and bring the youngest children to school, while the older ones walked themselves. I'd have free time until 2:30 p.m. Then it was time to walk back to school and pick up the youngest children. When arriving at the orphanage, we'd hang out a bit and have a snack around 3:45 p.m. At 4:00 p.m., the older children would arrive from school.

From then onward we'd either do homework or just have fun together. Around 5:15 p.m. my dinner would be ready and I'd eat dal bhat (rice with lentils and veggies), which is a traditional Nepali dish, while talking to some of the children. After dinner I'd walk home to my hotel and have the night to do whatever I wanted!

Pokhara Lake in Nepal
Pokhara Lake

What did you enjoy doing in your free time? 

I walked around Lakeside a lot. Just walking through the streets and looking in the shops (Hint: For the best souvenirs!). Besides that, I spent quite some time in cafés, reading, working, or writing. I also sat at the lake and visited a temple and museum.

What was your accommodation like? What did you like best about it?

My hotel was great! The owners greeted me every time I walked in or out of the hotel. The room was clean and the shower worked fine. The best thing about the hotel was just the personal touch with the owners.

What is one thing every participant should know before participating in your program?

You'll bond with all people and children and you'll never forget them. I think there's a big chance that you will come back, so be prepared for that!

Now that you're home, how has volunteering abroad impacted your life?

It made me more conscious of who I am and what I want to achieve in life. I just try to take all the good things from Nepal back home and never forget them. Besides that, I now have travel fever. I think I will have this for my whole life, because it is very hard to get rid off.

Poon Hill in Pokhara, Nepal
On my 'Poon Hill' trek

Would you recommend volunteering with The Love Company to others? Why?

Yes, The Love Company is a small organisation, which makes it very personal. You really get to know the owner of the company, and he's just so lovely. The children are really happy and everything is simply well organised.