Our Tom Howley team often travel to far-flung destinations and achieve incredible accomplishments outside their day to day work lives. Recently one of our brilliant showroom managers, Sabina went on an inspiring journey to Nepal to undertake volunteer work with POD on their childcare support programme.
Volunteer work is something Sabina had always planned to do, there came a point when she thought it was time to stop thinking and start doing instead. This April she set off on her journey to Nepal, nestled between India and Tibet in the beautiful Himalayas. We thought it would be a fantastic opportunity to gain an insight into the incredible journeys our designers and showroom managers undertake, sharing Sabina’s encounters and experiences with you.
I didn’t have a specific country in mind when I decided to do volunteer work, I just knew I wanted to work with children. My main concern was ‘will I be able to make a difference?’, so I spent time researching volunteer companies and stumbled cross POD. I liked their ethics, they seemed thorough in regards to their chosen placements and also with the safety of the children I would be working with.
They have all kinds of volunteer placements available and the Child Care Support placement in Nepal fit my experience level perfectly, it was also a country I had never been to so would be a brand-new experience all round!
POD is a non-profit, ethical organisation that have volunteer opportunities all around the world. From volunteering with children, conservation to building and community work.
What was a typical day like whilst you were over there?
We woke up early most mornings as this was the best time to explore. I would go for a walk with my camera and journal, find a lovely cafe (I tried not to go to the same place twice) and have breakfast.
10am – 1pm was when I went to the school teaching basic English and Maths to a small group of children aged between 7 and 12.
1pm – 2:30pm I swapped over my bags as my supplies were different for each of my placements. I would often have lunch in a café or restaurant, you were spoilt for choice in Pokhara!
3pm – 5:30/6pm was time with Street Kids, a home where 9 children who either have no parents or guardians who cannot take care of them for various reasons. Time here would be spent encouraging communication and building their confidence through craft making and playing games.
Once the day was finished I’d wander around the lake, have dinner out and spend time with the family running the guest house I stayed in.
Highlight of the trip?
Spending time with the children aside. It’s 100% the sunrise at Sarangkot. I’d been in Nepal for 9 days and not seen the mountains. The weather wasn’t clear enough during my coach trip to Pokhara and living Lakeside the mountains were hidden by the hills.
I caught a taxi at 5:15am and watched the sunrise revealing these ginormous snow-capped mountains, it’s probably the most breath-taking and humbling experience. I’ve seen a lot of beautiful things but these were something else and I’ll never forget it.
Best thing you ate whilst over there?
I ate so much delicious food it’s hard to say one particular meal, my top 3 include:
- Steamed chicken momo’s are a staple and available everywhere!
- Traditional Nepali Thali – a selection of various dishes on a platter
- Drums of Heaven from Mongolian China – it’s a tiny restaurant that seats 8 people at a time but these chicken drumsticks in plum sauce are a must!
What did you learn about the culture that will stick with you?
Nepal has an amazing culture. They are incredibly welcoming and beyond humble. On my last day at school, I was given a blessing by the school teacher Tika who said, ‘I have nothing to give you but friendship’ and that will always stick with me. Friendship is something they all genuinely offer you.
What was the design and style like in Nepal?
It’s a wonderfully colourful country. Everywhere you look you see bright bold colours – blues, reds, yellows, pinks, peaches you name it. Houses are all unique – patterns in brickwork and colourful balconies.
Women wear beautiful Kurta’s (traditional clothing) they are bright coloured tunics often with detailed embroidery on them. Men would wear Dhaka Topi a traditional hat woven in busy patterns and bright colours.
We’d like to thank Sabina for sharing her inspiring journey with us. If you’d like to find out more about POD’s volunteering opportunities follow this link.