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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Himalayan Foundation Nepal (HFN)?

Himalayan Foundation Nepal (HFN) is a non-profit, non-governmental organization (NGO) that was founded in 2007 by a group of social activists, educationalists, development workers and other professionals.

Unlike many other development NGOs, HFN puts efforts for change directly in the hands of local people by actively encouraging them to volunteer within their communities. HFN aims to unite all sectors of society in working together and run local projects, especially helping the Living Orphanage.

HFN has a board of advisors and a board of directors. Debi Lal Prasain (David) is the Director. HFN also works together with other like-minded national and international organizations. HFN is officially registered under the Society Act with the District Administration Office Kathmandu (Reg No. 935 and is also affiliated to the Social Welfare Council Nepal (SWC) (Affiliation No. 24693).

What kinds of volunteers do you work with?

HFN has already worked with various universities, organizations, clubs, church groups, youth groups, and individuals around the world regardless of their race; religions, country etc. who wish us to arrange meaningful volunteer opportunities & experiences for them in the beautiful Himalayan country of Nepal. Anyone who meets our volunteering criteria is welcome to apply for our programs and hence accepted.

When do I have to apply for the program?

Volunteers need to apply a minimum of 15 days before their volunteering start date.

Is this program fee is affordable?

HFN needs a reasonable fee for its services, however, we have reduced costs compared with other international volunteer agencies in order to allow volunteers an affordable experience. Please communicate directly with our volunteer coordinator at info@hfn.org.np with any questions you may have regarding the cost of our program.

Why do I have to pay a program fee?

This question arises when you do volunteer work in most places – payment will cover: food and accommodation, language training, finding placement, communication cost, donation, administration costs, government taxes, etc. HFN also assists various community aid projects as well, and the remaining money goes directly to supporting these projects.

How can I pay for the program fees?

Cash payment can be made in US Dollars, or Nepali Rupees. We also accept online Payment (PayPal) You can also pay through Western Union and Money Gram. Although we do accept international bank-to-bank transfers, we discourage this due to the high cost of banking fees.

When do I need to pay program fees?

All payments must be made at the beginning of the volunteer program. A registration fee will be paid at the time your registration is confirmed. HFN does not accept weekly or monthly installments. If you want to stay longer than your committed period, you will need to inform us and pay accordingly.

What Kind of VISA do I need to Apply?

HFN volunteers qualify as volunteer tourists and therefore you will only require a tourist visa. You can obtain your visa in advance or upon arrival at the Kathmandu International Airport. You must have an extra passport photo when doing so.

If I decide to return home before the placement is over, can I?

Once the volunteer makes a decision and pays for the program fee, upon receipt of invoice, HFN does not refund any registration fee and program fee under any circumstances. They should be set to come for that particular program. However, if the volunteer has an unavoidable circumstance (such as illness, death of in the family etc.) they may request to leave the program and HFN will consider returning 25% of the host family costs, if the volunteer has registered for more than a 30 day program. No refund will be made if program is less than 30 days or if the volunteer leaves the program without HFN’s consent. Volunteer position are non transferable.

Do you select my placement area?

Yes, placements are decided based upon program vacancy and volunteer's skills, but we try to take into account any special preferences/needs of the volunteers. If you have any preferences, please let us know as soon as possible so that we can accommodate them.

Do I have to speak a foreign language?

Volunteers on our short-term (1- 4 week programs) do not need foreign language skills. Those volunteers interested in participating on one of our long-term programs need to have intermediate language abilities in the spoken language of the program country. As part of your program, you will learn the basics of the Nepali language and you'll learn quickly. Although you may not achieve fluency, the Nepali people are generally very warm and friendly and willing to help you.

What will be the living conditions be like at my placement?

The living conditions at your placement depend on the area. One should not expect luxurious accommodations here in Nepal. You will be placed within a family setting with your own room (possibly shared with another volunteer), and sometimes your own bathroom. Most placements will have electricity. Overall you will receive a basic but standard living environment for people in Nepal during your stay.

Is there anything I can bring with me that would be useful to your organization?

We would be very grateful for educational books, illustrated books, English novels, children's books, school supplies, toothpaste, toothbrush, soap etc. We also appreciate clothing donations and stationery materials.

Are there any special items that I should bring that I may not have thought of?

This will vary depending on what non - HFN activities you want to participate in (for e.g. trekking, whitewater rafting, etc.) and how much you need to be comfortable during your placement. With the exception of medicine, first-aid-kit and high-tech trekking gear, you can buy everything that you would need for your placement in Kathmandu (likely cheaper than in your home country).

Sleeping Bag

Hiking boots

Tevas/ flip flops

Fleece jacket (during winter months)

Light-weight cotton clothing.

Waterproof jacket (a fold-away windcheater is fine)

(Women) Sarong (or you can buy a lungi cheaply in Nepal)

Mosquito repellent

Sun cream

Water purification tablets and/or water filter

First aid kit

Flashlight

Books about your country

Photos of your family / friends / home (essential!)

Small presents for your family from your country

A few examples of your local currency

I pod/Laptop/Music/Portable music player

Magazines

Colored pencils and pens, drawing books, stickers

Inflatable globe

Books on teaching English/English Grammar for your reference

What should I bring for my host family?

The Nepali people are very friendly, and giving gifts to the volunteer on the day of their departure is very common. If you would like to bring gifts for your family, below are some suggestions:

A framed picture of yourself and your Nepali family (you can have this made while in Nepal)

A small photo album with pictures of you and your family / friends from home

A 'coffee table' sweetie chocolate, book of your home town or country

Posters, stickers or magazine pictures from your country

Children's books

T-shirts (new) from your country, Flags etc.

How much extra money do I need?

We manage food and room for volunteers after training. You may need some extra money if you plan on taking part in adventure activities outside the organization (like trekking, jungle safari, white water rafting etc) or if you just want to buy some souvenirs. You must also remember the VISA fee, which can range from $40-100 US dollars depending on the length of your stay. There is also an airport tax, which you pay upon your departure of Nepal. This can range from $25 -30US dollars.

Can I come with a friend or can I be placed near other volunteers?

We allow people to come with a friend or even in a large groups. You sometimes may be placed in different homes located within 1-2 miles. We can place any volunteer near to another volunteer already working in the field. Please be reminded that two different genders of volunteers are not allowed to stay in same house unless they are a married couple.

When should I arrive in Nepal?

You may arrive in Nepal whenever works best for your schedule. If you would like to see some of Nepal before you begin your volunteer work we can arrange an alternate pickup location International Airport. Many volunteers begin their stay with HFN and after completing their volunteer work stay anywhere from a few days to a few months after to explore all that Nepal has to offer.

Does anyone Himalayan Foundation Nepal representative come to the airport to pick up volunteers?

Yes, our representative will meet with you at the airport arrival point. They will have a card with your name and/or group information written according to your forwarded flight details.

What training will I receive? Where will I have to stay during the training period?

Himalayan Foundation Nepal (HFN) will provide you with basic Nepali Language training and cultural information. During the first phase, you will receive training in Kathmandu. You will be staying with a Nepali family or in a hostel during the training period. For the second phase, you will move to your volunteering placement site. If you decide to volunteer at the orphanage, you will receive your language training and cultural information on site.

Will I have access to communications such as, e-mail, telephone, and post office?

This all depends on your placement. Almost all placements will have cell phone access and Post Office. If you are in a city placement there are many places in which you can use phone or access e-mail. The orphanage has Wi-Fi access, but computer access is limited between certain hours of the day.

How can my family contact me during my placement?

Depending on your particular placement, your host family may or may not have a telephone within their home. Most villages will have one phone that can accept incoming and outgoing international calls. In addition, most placements are within an hour travel to a major city that provides email/internet and/or international phone service.

That said, in case of an emergency, your family/friends may contact the HFN office in Kathmandu. We will do our best to get a message to the individual as quickly as possible. You must understand that the infrastructure in Nepal is not as reliable as in more developed countries. In some cases it may be hours or even a day before a message can get through to a volunteer. However, if you choose a program in the Kathmandu Valley, this should not be an issue.

Can my family send me small packages, cards etc.?

Yes, we generally check the post office weekly. You can have mail sent to our G.P.O. Box and we will hold it at the office or try to send it to you depending on where your placement is.

POSTAL ADDRESS:

(your name)

Himalayan Foundation Nepal (HFN)

P.O. Box: 8975 EPC 4030,

Dhapasi, Kathmandu

What sorts of Health Care Facilities are available?

In Kathmandu, health care is relatively good - and also very inexpensive. In your placement, however, the same cannot be said. Some placements are close to Kathmandu or Pokhara (another large city), but if you are in a village, there will be little to no access to health care. There probably won't even be access to medication, so we recommend that you bring your own mini-pharmacy.

What of sanitary items are available in Nepal? What do I need to bring from home?

Most things are available here - shampoos, soaps, shaving products, toothpastes. It is recommended, however, that women bring tampons (if they wear them), as you cannot get those in all parts of Nepal. Hand sanitizer/ wipes should also be brought from home, as well as any name-brand/prescription medicine. Since rice is eaten with every meal here, some people may have constipation problems - volunteers should consider bringing fiber vitamins!

What vaccinations should I consider having prior to arrival?

You should consider the following vaccinations, however, please consult your doctor / local travel clinic for the latest recommendations regarding vaccines and Nepal:

Diphtheria

Tetanus

Polio

Hepatitis A & B

Typhoid

Yellow fever

Rabies

Tuberculosis

Malaria tablets

What Makes a Good Volunteer?

Himalayan Foundation Nepal (HFN) does not ask for any formal qualifications from our volunteers. All we ask is that you have a genuine desire to help people and are committed to seeing the Program through. A positive and flexible attitude will also help you to get the most out of your stay in Nepal.

If you are applying for teaching English, a strong command of the English language is a necessity. Similarly, if you are interested in volunteering at a Health Post, some prior medical experience and first aid skills would be useful. If you are applying to teach computers at the Resource Centre, to the environmental awareness program, or income generation program, you should possess the skills and knowledge necessary to work within these programs.

The following attributes are vital for survival, regardless of the program!:

Enthusiasm for learning

Independence

Patience

Good problem-solving skills

Sense of humor/ability to laugh at yourself

Tolerance

Willingness to share

Flexibility

Self-motivation

Open-mindedness

What is the best time to travel in Nepal?

Any time of year is a great time to be in Nepal. If you wish to trek the best times are from September through November and March through May. The summer is the rainy season and as a result trekking is difficult. The winters are mild in Kathmandu with no snow. Even though Nepal is home to one of the world's highest mountain ranges, the country is at warm latitude, and the altitude offsets the sub continental heat, leaving the climate very pleasant.

What is the weather like in Nepal?

The width of Nepal is only about 200 km on average, but within this short distance the altitude of the land rises from lowly a 60m, all the way up to above 8000m, hence, the weather depends upon the altitude of the place in Nepal. In general Nepal has four climatic seasons: Summer, Monsoon, Autumn, and Winter.

Summer is from March to May. The temperature of this season fluctuates between 20°C to 30°C (68°F to 86°F). Monsoon season lasts from June to August. These are also the pre-monsoon months with occasional evening-thunderstorms and hot temperatures. Autumn starts in September and ends by November. During this period, the climate is dry and mild with temperature fluctuating between 20°C to 30°C (68°F to 86°F). Winter spans from December to February. The mornings and evenings are very cold, while the afternoon is pretty sunny. The temperature during these months rises from 15°C to 20°C (59°F to 68°F).

Clothes and Climate in Placement Areas.

Nepal is not always as cold as people think. The country is geographically divided into three parts. The Himalayan region of Nepal is very cold in winter, while the mid hill regions (Kathmandu and Pokhara) and mid-terrain regions (Chitwan) have different climates during different seasons. The weather is cold from December to March but warm and moderately hot in the summer. The spring and fall are cool and very pleasant. Please bring your winter clothes (think layers!) if you are coming between November and February, and summer clothes for the remaining months.


It is important to be dressed properly when working in schools, orphanages, or office settings – try to avoid backpacker dressing! Appearance is very important in Nepali societies. For health projects, bring white apron and latex gloves!
We suggest incoming volunteers find their placement areas on the map of Nepal and prepare for climate and clothes accordingly. Volunteers changing placement: please aware of changing climatic conditions (ie: for trekking).

Is Nepal safe for volunteers?

Our answer to that is YES! The majority of Nepal is very safe to travel around (though some consideration should be taken for female trekkers travelling alone). Not only is Nepal safe, but it is also fun and exciting, full of extremist adventures, and is an incredibly beautiful country that any world traveller will appreciate.

Over the last ten years Nepal has experienced problems with fights between the government and the Maoists due to conflicting ideas and political disagreement. While there were people killed during this conflict, there are no records of any tourists or travellers being injured, killed or involved in anyway. All people in Nepal have a strong belief that guests are equal to god; every Nepali abides by this and offers the warmest of welcomes to all visitors into Nepal.


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P.O. Box: 8975 EPC 4030,
Dhapasi, Kathmandu
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info@hfn.org.np
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    HFN is an officially registered non-government, not-for-profit organization(NGO) (Govt. Regd. No. 935) associated with the Social Welfare Council of Nepal (SWC Regd. No. 24693). In 2007.