I recently traveled to Nepal from Northern California to volunteer at Conscious Impact. I was introduced to Conscious Impact through my dear friend and Boonville, California neighbor, Rose Flannigan. Rose, Mackenzie (a fellow volunteer and Boonvillian) and I all live in the rural town of only a few thousand people.  We have worked together at a small hotel restaurant for the past few years. It must have been about 5 or 6 months ago when Rose first introduced me to the idea of volunteering at Conscious Impact. I work seasonally as a sous chef at the hotel, so I took advantage of my time off and decided to embark on this journey. Rose had shared beautiful stories about her time in Nepal. Conscious Impact, the community of Takure, and the opportunity to volunteer abroad again, inspired me to travel.  It was an easy decision to come to Nepal.

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I booked my flight shortly after and started counting the days as Rose continued to encourage and ensure me that I was going to love it. She couldn't have been more right. The volunteer communication process with the amazing Beth Huggins and Rose was flawless. I immediately knew that this was an organization that truly appreciates its volunteers. Beth and Rose helped coordinate everything from my pick up at the airport, to a room at Yeti Guest House. As well as introducing me to the one and only Kyle in Kathmandu who guided me on my first wild Nepali bus ride into the hills of the Sindhupalchowk District.

I spent the month of February at Conscious Impact which I felt was a very exciting time for the organization. As soon as I arrived at camp I was immediately welcomed by smiling faces and hugs. It was also an amazing feeling to see my friends from California!

To be honest, I consider myself to be a pretty shy and quiet person when I find myself in new situations with people that I'm not familiar with. I usually don't know how to act around strangers and tend to keep to myself. After my first couple of days at Conscious Impact however, I was feeling more and more at home, meeting amazing and inspiring people, and actually remembering 30 or so people's names, which is usually super difficult for me.

Everyone at camp is so motivational and encouraging, so no matter what task or project you're working on, you feel the appreciation immediately. You quickly understand that everyone is whole heartedly contributing to the communities of the camp and the local villages.

As someone who loves to work outside and with their hands, the work at Conscious Impact was so fulfilling. I was fortunate to be around during the construction of the rammed earth walls of the women's co-op in Nawalpur under the instruction of talented builders. My days were spent either making bricks with the local Nepali boys or walking through the beautiful and welcoming village of Takure to one of the many worksites. I found it impossible at the end of the day to not only feel grateful, but accomplished, exhausted and ready for another day at Conscious Impact.

There are far too many things that I have appreciated and loved about my time with Conscious Impact and Nepal to include here. I would ensure anyone, much like my friend Rose ensured me, will be so grateful to take the leap and come to Nepal. You will be welcomed with the same smiling faces and open arms of the local Nepali people and Conscious Impact family that I was greeted with over a month ago.

With such a strong team and the fast paced growth of the organization, the opportunities to learn, build and grow are plentiful and ready for the taking. Volunteering at Conscious Impact was extremely inspiring, eye opening and life changing for me and I'm so excited to continue to watch the meaningful work and love that they are spreading across the region and to return to Nepal and the project in the near future.

Thank you so much Nepal and Conscious Impact. Until next time!

Written by: John Paula

Photography by: Jonathan H. Lee / Graham Wynne 

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