Live in a Nepalese Buddhist monastery teaching monks English and learning about their way of life. It's a a very unique, life affirming opportunity, not to be missed.
Although not the most practised religion in Nepal, the influence of Buddhism can be found throughout; well Nepal is the birthplace of Buddha! From the countless temples and stupas located around the country to the thousands of Tibetan Buddhists who have sought refuge, Nepal remains an important place for Buddhists.
Many young Nepalese men spend a period of their life training as a monk. The majority of the children at the monasteries are Tibetan refugees and impoverished children from ethnic hill tribes. Becoming a monk offers many children the chance of a better life.
Training to become a monk starts at an early age. Young monks are taught about Buddhist practises and philosophies as well as receiving general mainstream education – including learning English. The ability to speak English allows monks to translate religious text and communicate the teachings of Buddhism to all. As the Dalai Lama said, “To learn English is to spread the word”.
It is very important that monks receive a formal education as well as religious training. It is not totally uncommon for monks to leave the monastery when they get older, therefore it is important for them to learn English in order to boost their career prospects in mainstream society. On arrival young monks will be keen and excited to meet you, but some will also be shy of you in your first few days at the monastery!
We support monasteries in Kathmandu and Chitwan. Volunteers stay at the monastery in separate living quarters. Expect to be woken early each morning as the gong is sounded and morning prayers commence! What an opportunity to get immersed in the Buddhist way of life! The monastery in Kathmandu is relatively close to the city centre whereas the Chitwan monastery placement is very rural. The unique aspect of the monastery in Chitwan is that volunteers will work with both male and female monks.
At Kathmandu expect there to be around 40 young monks in total and for Chitwan it is around 100 monks. The ages range from around seven years old to lower teen and average class sizes tend to be around 10-15 per class.
You should arrive into Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu (airport code KTM) on the selected Sunday start date. Programmes start on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of each month.You will be met at the airport by one of our local staff or an appointed driver who will be holding a named sign. They will take you to your accommodation where you will spend the rest of your day at leisure.
The programme ends on the Sunday of your final week and you should depart the accommodation on this day.
Can I use this program as part of a university or college placement?
It is certainly possible to use one of PMGY’s programmes as part of your university or college placement. Project staff can sign off any paperwork required by your course tutors. PMGY regularly receives medical, childcare, psychology and nursing placement students at our projects around the world and we have ties with some of the leading universities.
If you’re a course tutor and would like further information about how one of PMGY’s programmes could meet the placement requirements for your degree course then please contact us.
Is it safe to travel to PMGY destinations?
Although our volunteers work in the developing world, we always ensure our host locations are safe. Each programme has been extensively researched and has passed our strict vetting process. Our UK team undergo an extensive routine when establishing our in-country infrastructures and we continue to monitor our safety procedures on a regular basis. Furthermore, we monitor the stability of our volunteer destinations on a daily basis. Through our constant contact with consulates and embassies and our reports from our overseas teams, we are able to ensure that our volunteers are never placed in unstable regions.
The PMGY team have visited and participated in every programme we offer and verified them based on our own independent criteria. We carefully inspect every little detail of our set-up. From inspecting the living conditions, checking out the neighbourhoods you’ll be staying in, to tasting the food you’ll be eating – each and every programme we establish has gone through a lengthy and rigorous vetting process. Risk assessments have been written for all areas in which PMGY operate and our experienced local coordinators are always on-hand to manage any emergencies that may occur. Our UK team are always on the road reviewing our risk management procedures in the field and monitoring local conditions.
In emergency situations we have the necessary protocols and equipment in place and we are able to evacuate our volunteers from potential dangers. Our local coordinators are trained to deal with emergency circumstances.
All volunteers will receive a PMGY Volunteer Handbook once they have paid their deposit and confirmed their place on the programme. We will send you an email entitled ‘Welcome to PMGY’ which will include a link where you can download the Volunteer Handbook. Please note that we DO NOT send a hardcopy of the PMGY Volunteer Handbook.
This Handbook contains literally everything you need to know – from what to pack, to how to obtain a visa, to local language guides. It is really important that you read through the Volunteer Handbook carefully once you’ve downloaded it. If you require any further information not covered in the Volunteer Handbook then our team are always on-hand to assist you.
Teaching English is the main way you will help but there may also be the chance to teach Maths and Science. You can expect to teach around 3 hours a day – however some days may be busier than others. You will follow a flexible curriculum syllabus in Nepal when conducting your lessons, working independently or alongside a fellow volunteer. There is usually a government course guide book available according to class standards that focuses on Maths, English and Science.
The level of English will vary dependent on which class you’re assigned. Therefore, you should be prepared to spend time planning for each lesson. Anything that you can teach about your own culture will also be gratefully received.
You will have a lot of free time, which you can spend travelling, relaxing or learning about the Buddhist way of life. You will find the monks to be accepting and genuinely grateful for your help. They will be interested to teach you about their way of life. This will give you an insight into the Buddhist religion not granted to tourists. You will get the chance to eat with the monks and have the opportunity too take part in some meditation rituals if you are up early enough to learn this practise too!
IN & AROUND CHITWAN, POKHARA & KATHMANDU
PMGY volunteers are offered a choice of rural and urban locations in this stunning and visually arresting country with volunteer programmes in Chitwan, Pokhara & Kathmandu. Each location is unique in its own way.
This off the beaten track destination offers such stark and beautiful scenic contrasts from mountains to jungle and there are few countries in the world that are as well set up for independent travel as Nepal. Wandering the trekking shops, bakeries and pizzerias of Thamel and Pokhara, it’s easy to feel that you have somehow landed in a kind of backpacker Disneyland.
Out in the countryside lies a quite different Nepal, where traditional mountain life continues at a slower pace, and a million potential adventures glimmer on the mountain horizons. This is a guide to just a few of them.
Chitwan is located in the vast flat and fertile Terrai region close to the Indian border, offering a different landscape to that of Kathmandu and Pokhara, which are closer to the Himalayas. The main city in the region of Chitwan is Bharatpur and the region generally has a much hotter climate than the rest of the country!
Paddy fields, ox-towed carts and an array of wildlife, make this a perfect location for those seeking a quieter and more rural atmosphere. However, at the weekend there is still so much to do – elephant bathing, jungle safari, white-water rafting…there is definitely something for those seeking adventure! Whether you cross the country by mountain bike, motorbike, raft or tourist bus, Nepal offers an astonishingly diverse array of attractions and landscapes.
Far from the earthquake epicentre, and almost unaffected by the disaster, Pokhara is blessed with spectacular scenery and a booming adventure sports scene. One of the worlds best paragliding spots, surrounded by white-water rivers and gateway to the world famous Annapurna range treks, what’s not to love about this laid-back, lakeside town with views of snow-capped mountains just 20km away.
You’ll find everything you need from western restaurants to international hospitals. But if you prefer a more rustic experience we have placements in quaint rural settings just outside of Pokhara.
This square, where the city’s kings were once crowned and ruled from, remains the traditional heart of the old town and Kathmandu’s most spectacular legacy of traditional architecture. It’s easy to spend hours wandering around this Unesco World Heritage Site with its popular watch-the-world-go-by temples.
On-arrival into Indira Tribhuvan International Airport you will be met at the airport by one of our local staff or an appointed driver who will be holding a named sign. It is advised that volunteers purchase a PMGY volunteer t-shirt and wear it on their flight, as this makes it easier for us to identify you at the airport.
Volunteers will live at the monastery in separate volunteer living quarters. Accommodation is basic but comfortable. The monastery in Chitwan is located in a rural setting so volunteers should not expect western style toilets, hot water showers or internet access. The accommodation in Kathmandu is more modern.
Living at the monastery is a truly unique experience that can bring with it some amazing views. You’ll hear the gong go off at 5am every morning to call the monks for prayer and meditation – something you’re welcome to take part in! Living life side-by-side with the monks is definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity!
It is important to note that accommodation in Nepal is comfortable but generally very basic; particularly in rural locations. Most accommodation will have western style toilets however some options only have Nepali style squat toilets so be prepared! More rural placements have bucket showers. Most accommodation does not have Wi-Fi access and electricity is intermittent so it’s a good idea to bring a torch and plenty of books! It’s a wonderfully rustic way to live and a million miles away from today’s hectic, hi-tech lifestyle, so enjoy every peaceful second!
You will be served three freshly prepared Nepalese meals a day. Traditional Nepalese food generally uses a variety of fresh, local ingredients including; lentils, potatoes, tomatoes, cumin, coriander, chillies, yogurt and lots of rice so its may take a little getting used to.
Dhal Bhat is the national dish and is usually served for breakfast and evening meal every day. It is a dish comprised of rice, lentils and seasoned vegetables.
Most meals are vegetarian with typical dishes being pasta or noodles complimented by locally grown vegetables. There is the occasional chicken, pork or fish dish served up from time to time.
Volunteers are advised to notify our local team if the food is not to their taste who will aim to adjust the food appropriately.