- The capital city is Kathmandu
- Official language is Nepalese with 14 other recognised regional languages
- Nepal is divided into three geographical areas: Himal, Pahad and Terai. Himal is the mountain region containing snow and situated in the Himalayan Range, Pahad is a mountain region which does not generally contain snow, and Terai is a lowland region containing some hill ranges.
- The region and world’s highest point, Mt Everest, is 8,848 metres high.
- Nepal ranks 145 on the Human Development Index out of 188 countries
(Source: UN Development Programme International human development indicators)
Banking and finances
Long term volunteers can open a bank with the recommended Nepal Investment Bank, however ATMs can dispense cash from New Zealand cards, and normally a bank account would not be necessary. VSA will deposit your monthly living allowance into your bank account as well as reimbursement for your utilities. Visit XE.com for current exchange rates.
Cell phones and email
There are four main companies, NTC (Nepal Telecom), Ncell, Smart and skye, all of whom display their rates and plan offers online. Internet calling is the least expensive option when it comes to long conversations. Computer, Internet and e-mail services are available at local Internet cafés in Gaighat town. Computer and limited Internet and e-mail access may also be available at your workplace.
Nepali dress is generally conservative. People in the countryside dress very modestly. Even men should avoid shorts in some communities, where it is not really seen as appropriate, even if you see porters or elderly men showing their knees. Loose-fitting, light, cotton clothing is best. For men, choose long pants, knee-length shorts and short-sleeved shirts. For women, dresses, skirts and t-shirts are commonly worn – sleeveless shirts are also acceptable. Don’t expose skin above the knee though, especially when attending traditional events. Women should wear long board shorts and a t-shirt while swimming.
Language and culture
VSA assignments usually last two years, so local language training is important. We encourage basic language training (Nepalese) at the start of assignments with follow-ups if necessary during assignment. Understanding local customs is vital to a successful assignment. Nepal is typical of many developing countries where people do not usually approach things head on. Talking about family and local issues is often required before getting down to discussing what you as a volunteer may want. Nepalese are friendly by nature – you may accept a handshake offered by either a male or female but you should never offer your hand first to a woman. Instead, you do a “Namaskar” with folded palms. Nepalese men in general, Hindus in particular, avoid touching women and holy men.
Malaria, Dengue fever and Encephalitis as well as other mosquito borne diseases are all found in Nepal, all volunteers must use malarial prophylaxis. Other precautions are still recommended, such as insect repellent and long sleeves / trousers in the evening if outside and a mosquito net at all times. Skin infections can develop quickly so have a good supply of plasters, antibiotic cream and antibiotics. The main hospital in Gaighat, where our Nepal volunteers have been based, is Gaighat Hospital and is walking distance from the centre of town. Health care is very basic and you will need to be proactive and responsible for managing your own health while on assignment.
Housing and living conditions
It is recommended volunteers bring all clothing and personal effects that they need for their stay, including sleeping mats and sleeping bags. Mosquito nets, insect repellents, towels and limited toiletries can be purchased in Gaighat. You may want to bring electronic household goods with you such as a tabletop oven, kettle, toaster, etc as they are cheaper in New Zealand. Volunteer’s accommodation in Gaighat will most likely be unfurnished so consider this when packing. It is recommended that you do not go out alone a night, so a good supply of books, DVDs or games may be required.
Gaighat is a small and pleasant town in a largely agricultural inner Terai valley, famous for its concrete factory. The people are exceptionally welcoming and friendly.
Udayapur is known for its unspoilt charms, natural beauty, forested hills and attractive villages.
We provide all selected volunteers with a thorough security briefing and specific local issues are covered during your in-country orientation and pre-departure briefing.