Jenni G., 17 years old
Type of holiday: Voluntary internship
Destination: Pokhara (Nepal)
Population: approx. 250,000
Duration: 3 weeks

Jenni, what made you want to go to Nepal?
Jenni: I was really interested in doing an internship abroad in the holidays. When I was researching the options I found the “Child Welfare & Education” organisation, which runs a home for underprivileged children and orphans from 4–16 years old in Pokhara. They have a very strict daily schedule there: everyone has to get up at 6, and then they have class from 6.30 til 8 with a private teacher.

They then go to a normal school from 9.30 til 4, and have private lessons again from 5 til 7 pm. That is a great opportunity for the children because most of them don’t have enough money to go to school and particularly village girls are often very poorly educated. The organisation gives them the opportunity of even studying after finishing school and therefore having a better life. I helped out with taking care of the kids while I was there so I did lots with them. They are all such lovely, open children, it was such a great experience!

What is the general status of women there?
Jenni: Well, boys are generally better educated for sure. Women have to cover their knees and wear traditional saris. The caste system still plays a major role there as well. That is the belief that everybody has a defined position in society that they cannot change. Weddings are still connected with dowries there sometimes, even though it is actually forbidden. That means that daughters become a kind of “bad deal” for their fathers.

Is there a lot for young people to do there in the evenings?
Jenni: Hmm, it is only the tourists who really go out, young people there meet up more secretly in the temples. Every now and again there are concerts or rap battles, sometimes even alcohol. Compared to Germany some of the people there are very poor, that was sometimes quite sad and moving. For example, in the home we ate rice three times a day, sometimes with vegetables, sometimes with potatoes. Every day.

What did you do in your free time?
Jenni: Oh, there were lots of free time activities on offer. Paragliding there is amazing, the landscape is truly breathtaking. We also went on a really good hike through the mountains and wading through rivers with leeches in, and the last night was really special. Everyone wore saris and we did Nepalese dances. The people there were all really friendly and welcoming.

Did you also see anything of the religion there?
Jenni:Yes, a bit. The majority of the Nepalese are Hindus. One very important thing is that cows are sacred for them. They wander around freely there, as do the monkeys by the way. I also saw funeral ceremonies at the temples. The dead bodies are laid out and decorated with lots of flowers and then burnt. Their ashes are then scattered in the river.

Did your internship leave an impression on you then?
Jenni: Absolutely! I would have liked to stay longer but then I got a place at university. It was really interesting to experience a different culture so close and be really in the middle of things – not like a typical tourist holiday. I particularly enjoyed working with the children because they were all so open and grateful. I would recommend it to everyone!