Field Note #109: Community for Water in Nepal


I have been on volunteer programs before, and I have seen what service in action looks like. The volunteer trip in March made me realize why it is such a crucial piece in solving the global water crisis. I will explain why toward the end, but let us go to the beginning.

The volunteers arrived Saturday evening, probably not realizing what time it is, and their bodies were exhausted from the hours of flight time. We transported them to the hotel, and we took them all to a cultural dinner to get their feet wet experiencing Nepali culture. We returned to the hotel, and the next day held the beginning of the adventure. The volunteer team began their long journey to the Chitwan district in a tightly packed bus. We journeyed down the mountain, traversed bumpy terrain, and volunteers fully experienced real cultural shock by the road conditions. Orientation followed that evening, and volunteers were then allowed to go and deal with the jet lag that began to kick in during orientation.

When the first day of work arrived, the volunteers were so excited to begin work. The ground team and myself were also excited. After all the planning, we finally had the volunteers here, and we wanted to see how the work was going to take place. The community in Dahakhani greeted us with “tika,” flowers and scarfs to symbolize a formal welcome. We took part in the local ceremony to announce the project to the whole community. People were so excited to see our volunteers, and the team was beginning to see just how important they are in the process. After the ceremony, a 45 minute hike to the water source began. The team conquered the difficult hike up, and could rest in the fact that going down would be “easier.”

The hike was made everyday for the 7 days working in Dahakhani, and everyday it got harder. Though everyday, the team would make it. We were pushed everyday to live how the people do, because villagers would make this hike everyday with us. Sometimes with bags of sand, sometimes with a pile of leaves on their head to feed livestock or just to reach their homes on the other side of the mountain. It was an inspiration to us all that, if they can do it for their whole lives, we could do it for seven days.

Volunteers worked alongside local villagers for the entirety of the week, and this is where the importance of the volunteer program can be found. It is found in forming community around the world. First, the community of volunteers is impressive. 18 strangers came together and formed a team. Then, that team joined up with a group of villagers who did not speak the same language and may have never seen so many white faces in their lives! It is an absolutely incredible sight, filled with hard work, nonverbal communication and teamwork. The community is built around one purpose. Water. The volunteers came from across the world to help, see and experience the water crisis. Villagers help to better their own community, access their own safe water and learn from people who never would be there if it was not for the water crisis.

The March trip showed me that people can come together to make a difference. We are all human, and we can all connect on that level. People who do not speak the same language can still laugh together, still work together and even still cry together. The goal of us all is to have meaningful relationships, and this trip showed me that a Wine To Water service trip provides that. You can come on a trip and build relationships with people you would have never met. You can really live out being a servant to others and help people who do not have steady access to water. Water. We take it for granted every time we turn on the faucet. The water crisis will go on for now, but I know that if people can keep coming together around the idea that we are all human, we all have needs, we all can help, then the water crisis is one step closer to being stopped. So anyone reading this, get up and go serve people on purpose.

- Pavan, Nepal IPM