Volunteer's postscript by Eunji Cho
Until I arrived in Nepal, overseas volunteers programs seemed dull. I headed to Nepal only with the sense of duty to help those in need. But what I faced on my arrival in Nepal soon swept a sense of shame. I was, of course, very excited to see monkeys walking on electric wires but as we turned into corners of every street to see houses without windows or doors, I regretted building any expectation on the way. I used to think a house was a cozy and safe place, but that was not the case in Nepal. To them, even this unfinished piece of architecture was a place called “home.” Having such a horrific first impression, the numerous rumors I had heard before coming to Nepal were amplified inside my head along with fear.
Feeling insecure, I stepped into Badikhel Children Center. Thankfully, the innocent and welcoming children instantly melt my fear of Nepal away. Despite the unclean and scarce conditions of living, the children were filled with love and happiness which purified my heart. How can I ever forget the children shouting out my name as they ran toward me? These lovely children calling me “Ms” and poking me in the ribs are the future of Nepal.
This is where happiness ends. Beyond the children’s smiles stands the reality in which the children live in. They do not have the environment for a decent shower or bath and most children do not even own a tooth brush. The three children I had spent the night with all had the cold due to the unsanitary living conditions. I felt remorseful as I witnessed the children sniffling and coughing in their sleep without a single overcoat to keep them warm.
During the week, I taught the children Math and Art but the final day at the center was the one most impressive. Volunteers all gathered to clean the streets of Badikhel, especially around the center. In the beginning only the volunteers cleaned the street but as the day went on, the children at the center came out to help us. As we complimented the children on their good deeds, they were more excited to help us and more children came out to help. I could see the children needed small compliments. After picking up all the trash around the center we brought the children into the center to wash hands. The children were shy at first when we tried washing their hands but soon asked us to help them. We spent a long time playing with the children and soap.
During our visit to Nepal, we spent every night on decorating pens with hand-made flowers. Because there were only few Nepali children with pen or paper at home, we wanted to give them decorated gifts. We were all exhausted with our voices gone husky after each day of teaching but we would still gather in a room to make flower pens until past midnight. We were very clumsy at first but soon became experts. Looking back, I feel like these clumsy and sleepy nights at our hotel rooms were one of the biggest memories to look back to.
The week in Nepal became one of the most important moments in my entire life. I never imagined this trip to Nepal would bring such a big change to me; however, the impression and memory I had earned from Nepal became a compass in my life to lead my future. This trip meant so much more to me than I could ever imagine. If possible, I would love to go back to Nepal as a volunteer and see the heart-warming smiles of the Badikhel children once again.