I have read many testimonials that endorse volunteer programmes on the internet. As such it can be a daunting process trying to choose which one will suit you best. One of the main reasons I decided to do a placement with the Umbrella Foundation was due to their devotion towards ethical volunteering. Many travel companies market themselves as volunteer agencies when in actuality their primary objective is to make a profit from voluntourism (a mixture of volunteering and tourism) rather than directly helping society. During my internship I really got the sense that I was here to assist, even in a small way, in their commitment to help children that have been the victims of human trafficking and injustice. I am very much impressed by Umbrella’s current projects which focus on supporting and reintegrating its children and young adults back into their local communities and its determination to provide them with the relevant life skills to work and continue their education. As such its central ethos is one of sustainability driven by long term goals and initiatives.
When I reflect on my time with Umbrella, it surpasses any expectations i had before leaving. My experience has been entirely genuine and I have been given an invaluable insight into how a small NGO operates. The internship itself did not adhere to a strict guideline and I was able to work on a wide array of roles ranging from creating a video project to running workshops for the children which covered topics such as ethics and Japanese food. In this sense the NGO placement was designed in such a way that i could share what knowledge i have and use this in respect to my work there. It also gave me the opportunity to discover so much about the culture, language and customs by talking to the Nepali staff members who welcomed me with open arms and top notch ‘jiskeko’ (banter). Furthermore, the office and volunteer house is situated outside the main touristy part of Nepal so i felt more immersed in the local culture, not to mention the views were something special, especially in the evening. I would recommend this to anyone with an interest in global injustice, development, social work and more broadly politics.