The “Big House” in Kathmandu
During orientation and seminars participants live in Tevel’s house in Kathmandu, otherwise known as “the big house” (we’re so creative…). The big house is located in the residential “Swayambu” neighborhood, very close to the famous Swayambu Monkey Temple. It can accommodate 24 volunteers in shared rooms with 3-4 participants in a room. There are western-style bathrooms, hot running water, Wi-Fi and other goodies that you won’t find in the village. The big house is both a comfortable place to adjust to life in Nepal and provides a fun break from village conditions during seminars.
The house is run by the participants and has a library and study area, courtyard, and a big kitchen where participants and staff can cook. Usually the house is full of activities such as an open beit midrash or early morning yoga class, depending on the interests and skills of each group.
In the Villages
In the villages it is extremely important that volunteers live in the same conditions as the villagers themselves, both to gain a deeper understanding of their lives and to prevent resentment. Living in these conditions isn’t always easy but is an important part of the volunteer experience.
Houses are made of mud bricks with earthen floors. Beds are a simple wooden frame with a thin matress, and cooking is done on a small gas burner. Squat toilets are located in small outhouses in the yard and there is no electricity, heating or running water. The shower is either a cold bucket or a dip in the river.