Nepal is a majestic country full of cultural diversity and chances to enjoy a range of outdoor adventures. Volunteers will have a chance to explore Pokhara and its many temples, trekking and white water rafting whilst being placed at one of the various projects in and aroundbeautiful Pokhara, gaining a personal insight into the Nepali people and culture during your stay.
Gain experience in the field of global public health. Contribute to Good Health and Well-Being, the 3rd Sustainable Development Goal set by the United Nations, by supporting local health initiatives in Pokhara focusing on the prevention of common health issues.
United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
Virtual Internship Programs
Choose from two types of virtual internships, designed specifically for students at different stages in their for-good career journey.
The medical sector is increasingly recognising the value of preventative health. Earn work experience in this field by completing a public health internship with GVI in Nepal. Interns work on preventative health initiatives set up in collaboration with local community partners and in alignment with UN SDG, #3, Good Health and Well-Being. The aim of our team and health interns is to educate community members on preventative health measures and support the establishment of healthy routines in schools.
Preventive health initiatives include our healthy routines project run with local pre-primary and primary school children set up in accordance with UNICEF’s WASH, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene program, women’s health discussions run with girls and women in the local community, and Emergency First Aid workshops offered to local educators, parents, or other community members.
In addition to contributing to ongoing projects, health interns are tasked with designing and implementing their own project that contributes to the long term goals of the public health project. Interns start by identifying a need in the community and working with their assigned on-site mentor to develop solutions. You will also work with local community liaisons to ensure that you are informed about cultural issues and assisted with overcoming the language barrier.
Gain experience in global public health.
Contribute to UN SDG, # 3 Good Health and Well-being.
participate in the GVI Leadership Course
Earn your Foundations in Sustainable Development program certificate, endorsed by the University of Richmond.
Live and work with other participants from all around the world who are all committed to making a global impact.
Immerse yourself in Nepali culture at our homestay-style accommodation on the edge of Pokhara’s Lake Phewa.
Experience the natural beauty of Nepal while trekking or paragliding.
*Many festivals are held throughout the year across Nepal. Schools and businesses close or slow down as communities participate in the festivities. We aim to enable participants to join in the celebrations whenever possible and adjust our own work to match the needs of the community at the time. Participants on all programs might help out with some construction or maintenance work to improve educational facilities, facilitate adult training programs, or create lesson plans other resources to support our educational work with children and adults. Over school holiday and exam times, participants on teaching programs might assist with running holiday programs for local students or contribute to the other projects listed above.
Life On Base
Known internationally as the gateway to the Himalayas, the tallest mountain range in the world, the city of Pokhara is well-loved by hikers, paragliders, and kayakers and other adventure enthusiasts. Built around the picturesque Phewa Lake, surrounded by snowy mountain peaks, the city offers a unique mix of natural beauty and urban convenience. Our GVI base in Pokhara is situated in the lakeside district, lined with great eateries serving local Nepali cuisine and international fare as well as tiny stalls selling local crafts unique to the region, such as intricately patterned pashmina shawls and vibrantly coloured Buddhist thangka paintings. On a clear day spot the Annapurna range from our accommodation.
Our base in Pokhara is a homestay-style accommodation that gives participants the opportunity to gain first-hand insight into Nepali culture. You will be living in the homestay with participants from all over the world, allowing you to learn about their individual cultures as well. Most rooms are shared, with ensuite bathrooms.
The host family prepares breakfast and dinner. Evening meals include the traditional Nepali dish of dhal bhat, a lentil curry served with rice. More western dishes such as pasta are also sometimes available. Lunch is a local snack. Most food is vegan or vegetarian due to Nepal’s majority Hindu and Buddhist populations.
Most participants use the internet cafes located nearby to keep in touch, as wifi is not available at the homestay.
Some project work sites are located a short walk from our accommodation. For others, transport is provided.
Nepal’s autumn season is considered to be the best time to visit the country and is the most popular among international visitors. Autumn runs from September until December and occurs just after the rainy season. During Autumn, the skies are clear but the region’s abundant plant life is lush after the plentiful rainfall occurring from June to September. If you are looking to see the famous rhododendron forests in bloom then Spring, February to April is the best time to visit. Summer in Nepal, from April to June, can be incredibly hot, with temperatures in the high 30s °C or high 90s °F, while the coolest season, winter, occurs between December and February.
What's It like?
If you’d like to find out what the experience of joining a GVI project is really like, simply contact us and we’ll put you in touch with one of our many Alumni.
We’ll try to match you to an Alum based on your location, nationality, age, stage of academic career, gender, and program interests. This allows you to gain insights into the experience that is most relevant to you.
Depending on your location you might be able to speak to an Alum over the phone or online, or meet up with them face-to-face at a coffee shop nearby. We also run a series of small events around the world where you can speak to GVI Alumni, Ambassadors and staff members.
Follow GVI Pokhara's Facebook page for live updates straight from the field. Get an idea of the types of projects you might be involved in, meet our staff and participants, experience life on this GVI base, hear about free time activities, and learn about the local culture and environment.
When it comes to support, we ensure that each participant is provided with unparalleled, 360 degree support, from your initial contact with the GVI Family, all the way through your program, and even after, as you become part of the GVI Alumni Team.
As part of this promise, we will ensure, whenever possible, that one of our dedicated staff will be available to meet you at the airport. In most locations, we also set up a Whatsapp group to help with managing airport arrivals. We will arrange with you prior to your departure that, should you arrive in the agreed upon pick up window, a member of our staff will be there to welcome you, easily identifiable in a GVI t-shirt or holding a GVI sign and wearing a friendly smile. This means there will be someone there to greet you as you land, and from there you will be transported to your GVI base to start your adventure and meet the rest of your team.
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Meet the team - Senior Field Management
Regional Director for Nepal and India
Introducing you to Cheryl. Cheryl is the Regional Director of GVI Nepal and India. Her journey with GVI began in 2011. Before this Cheryl had a history of teaching, although she fancied a change, which lead her to volunteer with GVI in Cape Town. After this she became a staff member and subsequently she stayed in Cape Town for the next four years.
Another role came up as Program Manager for Pokara, Nepal, which Cheryl took on before finally getting to where she is now.
Cherly has always possessed a love for travel. She has backpacked across Europe, working as a nanny. Her main highlight however has to be Peru. In fact it was her experience here that inspired her to volunteer in the first place.
This is Hannah, the Program Manager at GVI’s base in Pokhara, Nepal. She has been visiting Nepal for several years now, mostly working in Kathmandu. When she heard about the opportunity with GVI she was very excited, acknowledging that GVI is a purpose-driven organisation, which she respects and values.
Hannah believes that the small things are what have a large impact on communities. The projects she has been working with include teaching, women's empowerment and more. Hannah can observe the positive change the work brings to the communities. On top of this, she also sees the change that the work can have on the volunteers and how it develops them in their journeys.
Deputy Director of Programs
Meet GVI’s Jill,also known by her rap name, Rainmaker, or her spiritual name, Field Whisperer. Her journey with GVI began back in 2007 as Thailand's Country Director, where she helped set up GVI’s first TEFL program!
Now she is based in Chaing Rai, Thailand. Jill's role involves providing support for all of our programs around the world. Working closing with each base, she looks to identify and manage any issues that occur so GVI are able to offer the best programs possible.
Meet the team - In-Country Staff
This is Rhythm! He is 22 years old and was born and raised in Pokhara, Nepal. He was originally a trekking guide, then the opportunity to become a Teaching Coordinator popped up and he got involved. At the moment he teaches both Englishs and Math to partner schools for grades one to five.
Meet Sita. Sita is one of the Project Coordinator for the Women's Empowerment project in Pokhara, Nepal.
She has been with GVI for a year now, and it has since become family for her. As part of her role she works with community members and leads volunteers. She finds inspiration working with volunteers and is grateful to do the work she does, empowering women in different ways.
All of our programs have short, mid and long-term objectives that fit with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or UN SDGs. This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualise their contribution to the UN SDGs.
Upon arrival to base, you will be educated about the history of the UN SDGs. You will learn about the specific goals of your location, the long-, mid- and short-term objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these goals on a global level.
Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to act as active global citizens after your program, helping to fulfil our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.
Early Childhood Development and Education
We support several educational facilities for young students in Nepal. GVI participants contribute by improving the infrastructure of learning environments, developing educational resources, and helping students achieve learning objectives. In addition, GVI staff and participants also sometimes run informal educational workshops with students from the local community. Subjects we support include English language learning, maths, science, and computer skills. With younger students arts and crafts lessons are held to promote fine motor skills development. Sports lessons help promote gross motor skills development, teamwork, and healthy lifestyle.
GVI participants support health in Nepal by conducting WASH, Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene, workshops. This includes facilitating practices like hand washing and tooth brushing in the local community.
Staff and participants contributing to our women’s empowerment program in Nepal participated in a number of educational and professional development workshops. These encompass many subjects but might include lessons on topics like conversational English, mathematics, resume writing, and alternative income generation. In addition we also support women’s health workshops to address issues like prenatal health and human rights presentations to address the prevalence of human trafficking in the region.
All these initiatives offer support to the community and local partners, and to address many of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, such as #4 – Quality Education, #3, Health and Wellbeing, #5 – Gender Equality and #6 – Clean Water and Sanitation.
Our Partners In Pokhara
Pokhara’s Long-term Objectives:
1. Providing support to students to reach learning goals appropriate to their age, grade level, or individual needs through increasing access to educational resources and their effective use in providing quality learning experiences.
2. Increasing the knowledge and understanding of healthcare in the community with an emphasis on prevention, and developing health-related skills such as Emergency First Aid.
3. Increasing professional and vocational skills held by women in the community, through education and empowerment.
The best decisions in international development and conservation cannot be made without accurate and up-to-date data or informed research. Our many field teams around the world collaborate with local and international partners to analyse data and draw conclusions. In addition, many of our participants have used research they have collected on their various GVI projects to complete their Masters, Doctorate, or postdoctoral studies. We also run a fellowship program which connects postdoctoral researchers at globally-respected universities with our many sustainable development programs around the world to support their research and ensure continuous improvement of our best practices on base.
A GVI program is an investment in your career. No matter which you choose, you will be working toward improving your employability by mastering new social skills, gaining further technical expertise and earning qualifications in many cases. Most of our staff are, in fact, GVI Alumni, and we have helped many of our Alumni discover, move toward, and earn their own personal dream jobs. Each program includes introductory workshops, ongoing presentations, as well as on-the-ground professional support provided by our very own trained staff members. In addition, our training programs are critical for helping us to ensure the long-term impact of our sustainable development projects around the world.
For All GVI Participants
Introduction to GVI as a whole and the work in your specific location. Learn about the short, mid, and long-term objectives of the sustainable development projects at your base, which United Nations Development Goals they impact most directly, and which local partners we work with.
Health and Safety Training
Learn about the Emergency Action Plans in place at your base, the full Risk Assessment, and best practices for personal safety.
Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Training
Learn about the importance of child and vulnerable adult protection best practices and how to apply them while on project.
For All Participants at Pokhara
Introduction to local Hindu and Buddhist Culture
Take a short boat trip to Barahi temple at the center of Phewa Lake, introducing you to Hindu culture. Then visit the Buddhist temple in Hemja, a Tibetian settlement.
Anti-human Trafficking Presentation
SASANE is a local anti-human trafficking organisation. Here participants attend a session educating them about human rights and the stat of human trafficking. Participants also complete a cultural cooking lesson, learning how to make momos, Nepali dumplings, using traditional methods.
Foundations in Sustainable Development certificate
After successfully completing the flagship online Foundations in Sustainable Development course and your specialisation in either the Introduction to Scientific Conservation Research or the Introduction to Community Development course, you will receive a certificate from the University of Richmond recognising your successful completion of the Foundations in Sustainable Development course. The Foundations in Sustainable Development course, both core and specialisation courses, are included in the program fee of all GVI internships.
Joining a program not only allows participants to collaborate with communities or work toward preserving unique ecosystems but it also offers plenty of opportunities to explore the surrounding area or travel further to see what other parts of the region have to offer.
Long term field staff are a great source of advice, and have helped us put together the following information on local travel options. Many decide to travel before or after their experience (subject to immigration restrictions), solidifying the lifetime friendships established on program. Please note that the below suggestions are not included in the program fee, and are for the individual to organise at their own expense.
You can access several of Nepal’s most abundant wildlife parks via Pokhara. The Annapurna Conservation Area, is not only home to Annapurna I, the 10th highest peak in the world, but also endangered species like the snow leopard and Himalayan wolf. You can also visit Chitwan National Park which is known for its large population of the vulnerable Indian rhinoceros species. Although more remote, you can also make a weekend trip to Bardia National Park, for a more pristine landscape.
This is one of the newly popular activities for international visitors to Nepal. It allows visitors to experience many of the same landscapes as those trekking through the Himalayas while perfecting their mountain biking skills. Rent a bike and gear in Pokhara and choose to either complete a short trail or a two-week tour from Pokhara to Kathmandu.
Explore the river gorges and waterfalls of Nepal through one of the many canyoning tours offered in Pokhara. Bungee jump down cliffs, abseil down waterfalls, raft down fast-moving rapids, or simply kayak or tube gently along the rivers. This is an excellent way to experience Nepal’s breathtaking natural environment first-hand.
Paragliding and Skydiving
Paragliding is incredibly popular in Pokhara and one the best ways to view the spectacular natural landscape. There are many operators working in Pokhara through which you can book a guided tandem paragliding tour starting at around thirty minutes in the air. If you are keen on an even bigger adrenaline kick then why not book one of the many skydiving experiences offered in Pokhara.
India, Bangladesh, and Bhutan
While you are in the region, why not take the opportunity to explore some of the other nations bordering Nepal. Visit India’s capital of New Delhi for an insight into modern India or, Rikshikesh, the world’s “yoga capital” to learn more about India’s historic culture. Travel to Bangladesh to visit its famous wildlife reserves known for their tiger populations or learn more about Buddhist culture by visiting the monasteries of Bhutan.
A short flight from Pokhara, Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal and it’s largest city, is known for its historic religious sites. Visit the sacred stupas, domed structures ubiquitous in Buddhist culture, at Swayambhunath or Boudhanath, or the sacred Hindu complex of Pashupatinath temple, all of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The expansive local markets are also a great opportunity to collect practical souvenirs like blankets and incense for those back home.
Himalayan Treks and Flights
Nepal is perhaps most well-known as the location of Everest, the world’s highest mountain peak. Everest is located in the Himalayan mountain range, which features some of the other highest mountain peaks in the world like Kanchenjunga and Lhotse. There are plenty of trekking tour operators to be found in Pokhara and we even offer inclusive volunteer and adventure packages that include trekking. Most trekking trips take several days to weeks to complete. If you are looking for a less taxing and shorter term option, you can also book a helicopter or small plane flight to get a bird’s eye view of the famous mountain range.
Engaging intimately with a new context teaches not only global awareness but adaptability and critical thinking, skills highly valued in the modern marketplace. Local and cultural immersion is encouraged on all our programs around the world, and is also one of the most enjoyable aspects of your experience. Luckily, there are many activities you can get involved with in your free time, or before and after your program. On our community programs the focus is on cultural topics, while on marine or wildlife programs the emphasis is more on the environmental element. Use your evenings and weekends to explore diverse and eclectic topics like Theravada Buddhism in Laos or how plastic pollution and climate change affects Indian Ocean coral.
February: The Tibetan New Year celebration, Lhosar, is held in February. Buddhist monasteries decorate their temples, known as stupas, and there is music and dancing in Tibetan communities and families exchange gifts.
March: The Nepalese version of India’s Holi celebration, the festival of colours, is celebrated in March. In Nepal this festival is known as Fagu Poornima. This is an incredible visual festival during which crowds throw one another with coloured powders.
May: As the birthplace of the Buddha, Buddha’s birthday is a big event in Nepal. This is known as Jayanti day and is celebrated during May.
September to October: Probably the most popular and well-known festival celebrated in Nepal is Dashain. Taking place over the course of 15 days, it honours the main goddess of Hinduism, Shakti, in all her forms. This is a time when families come together and celebrate. Parades and feasts are common throughout the festival. It corresponds to the Navratri festival held throughout India.
October to November: Tihar is another festival held around the end of October or early November each year and corresponds to Diwali, the festival of lights, popular in India. The festivities extend for five days and each day features a unique celebration.
Yoga and Meditation
Yoga evolved as part of the Hindu tradition. As a country with a large Hindu population, yoga is part of Nepalese culture. Nepal is one of the top yoga retreat destinations in the world. There are plenty of classes you can take during your stay in Pokhara. Mediation is also a central component of both Hinduism and Buddhism. Visit a Hindu tradition meditation class for to learn japa mala meditation or a Buddhist tradition meditation class for a Vipassana meditation class.
Possibly the most well-known Nepalese dish is dal bhat, a lentil stew served with rice. It is a smokey, spicy, wholesome dish which happens to be vegetarian-friendly as well, in keeping with the beliefs of the Hindu religion. Momos, traditionally thought of as a Tibetan food, are popular throughout the Himalayan region, and Nepal is no exception. Momos are a type of steamed dumpling, served with a dipping sauce, and come in a variety of fillings. When you are out and about be sure to stop at a street stall to try a sel roti, a fried, ring-shaped salty snack.
Religion and Spirituality
Most of Nepal’s population subscribes to Hinduism, specifically the Shaivism sect. You will find many Hindu temples throughout Nepal. However, Nepal is also home to one of the main Buddhist sites in the world, Lumbini, the birthplace of the founder of Buddhism, Siddhartha Gautama and does have a significant Buddhist population as well. You can learn about both these traditions during your stay in Pokhara, by speaking to locals, and visiting the many religious sites in the area. Visit Tal Barahi, a temple located in the centre of lake Pewa, dedicated to the goddess Durga, or the World Peace Pagoda, a Buddhist stupa.
Although Nepali is the official language of Nepal, over 100 languages are spoken within the limits of the country. Throughout your time on the project you will have plenty of opportunities to learn more about the Nepali language while interacting with locals.
Below is a list of core ethics and best practices we believe are essential to the operation of high quality, ethical volunteer and sustainable development programs. We believe that all responsible volunteer and sustainable development operations should focus upon these principles. If you are considering volunteering, these are some of the key considerations you should question, to ensure that your time and money contributes towards positive change.
We want to constantly develop our own understanding of ethical best practice. In so doing, we aim to provide an exemplary industry standard for other education institutions, international development organisations, and social enterprises. Our Badge of Ethics stands for the drive to always do good, better. Find out more, click on the Badge below.
Our 10 Ethical Commitments
Locally Driven, Collaborative Projects
We aim to design all our projects in collaboration with local organizations and communities and ensure that they are locally driven.
Clear Objectives & Sustainable Outcomes
We aim to clearly define short-, mid-, and long-term objectives with sustainable outcomes for all our projects.
We aim to track, record, and publish the impact of each of our projects.
Working Against Dependency
We aim to build in-country capacity by assisting local organizations in becoming self-sustaining.
Responsible Exit Strategies
For each local organization we work with, we aim to have a plan in place for withdrawing support responsibly.
Clear Roles & Specialized Training
We aim to ensure that ever participant is assigned a clear role and that they are fully trained and supported to carry out their work by specialized staff.
Respect for all
In all our actions we aim to respect the skills and efforts of all and seek to protect the rights, culture and dignity of everyone who engages with GVI.
We work to ensure that credit for the results of any project, along with any data collected, research conducted, or Intellectual Property developed, remains the property of local organizations.
Transitioning from the Orphanage Model
We do not condone and aim to withdraw support of orphanages and residential care centers.
Child and Vulnerable adult policies
We will live by our Child Protection and Vulnerable Adult policies.
As an organization, GVI is committed to striving toward best practice, and to educating both our potential participants, our partners, and the world at large about them. Both the volunteering and sustainable development sectors are increasingly, and rightly, under scrutiny. Many recent local and global articles highlight poor practices and questionable ethics. GVI is widely recognized for striving to apply global best practice in the volunteering, education and sustainable development sectors throughout our operations by reputable organizations such as ChildSafe.
However, global best practice is always evolving and we dedicate both time and resources to engage with internationally respected experts and learn from the latest research to ensure our programs both fulfil their potential to create maximum positive impact, and minimise their potential to create unintentional negative impact. Along with and as part of the sustainable development and volunteering community, we are constantly learning and applying this learning to practice. We do not always get everything right, but we seek feedback from our community members, partners, participants and our staff, and react accordingly. We know are already doing a great job, and feedback we have received confirms this, but we aim to do even better and are continuously refining our operations to improve upon our already excellent reputation.
‘If only every student could do this. It changes your life in all the right ways,’ says Chris Heritage, parent of Luke Heritage, one of our teen volunteers who has participated on two GVI programs, one in Costa Rica and another in South Africa.
We are a parent-run organisation that is incredibly serious about health and safety, and increasing the impact, as well as the long-term career benefits of our programs. Our programs help young people develop the skills to select a career path that is personally fulfilling, and live a life aligned to the well-being of our planet and the global community.
Ken and Linda Jeffrey, whose son Sam volunteered with GVI in Thailand, talk about how the experience affected Sam. He also went on to volunteer with GVI again in South Africa. ‘I know it sounds like a cliche but in a sense, he did go away as a boy and he came back as a young man. Both of us could recommend GVI without any hesitation to any other parent thinking about exploring an opportunity for their children to explore the world and to see different parts of it.’
Parent Info Pack
Download the Parent Pack and learn more about:
Our staff: All our projects are run by staff, selected, vetted, trained, and managed by our central office. Health and safety: Our safety practices include a child and vulnerable adult protection policy and high participant ratios. Staying in touch: See what’s happening on base, by following a hub’s dedicated Facebook page. Free parent consultations: We would love to talk to you about exciting opportunities available for your child.
Support & Safety
We won’t sugarcoat it — traveling abroad is usually a complex process that carries an element of risk. But this is exactly why we’re passionate about providing extensive support throughout the process as well as the highest safety standards during the in-country phase. We believe that volunteering abroad should not only be impactful, but an enjoyable experience that carries as little risk as possible. This is exactly how we’ve been able to maintain our reputation as the most highly respected volunteering organisations in the sector over the past two decades.
Once a participant books, they will be assigned a personal support coordinator who will oversee their pre-departure journey. The support coordinator helps to bridge the gap between program enrolment and arrival at one of our field bases. Your personal support coordinator will ensure that you are provided with all the necessary information required to apply for visas, background checks, and any other documentation.
Upon arrival at the airport, participants will be greeted by a GVI staff member. All GVI staff are our own and all our programs around the world are run by our staff. All GVI field staff are background checked, Emergency First Response and safety trained. The minimum staff to participant ratio on GVI’s programs is one to six, although on several bases we have a ratio of one to three. When finishing the experience, participants will provide feedback on all aspects of their program.
It takes courage to book a GVI program, get on a flight, and head off to somewhere new. Volunteering offers a level of cultural immersion that typical backpacking or holidays just can’t achieve. This is why thousands of people around the world participate in paid GVI programs.
As the saying goes: ‘Expect the best, plan for the worst’. Cliched or not, we take it to heart. This tenet is at the core of how GVI operates when it comes to promoting the health and safety of our participants, staff, and local community members at all of our 20+ bases around the world.
The weather isn’t just a topic for polite small-talk here at GVI. We have emergency action plans in place for all scenarios. So when the weather, or other natural forces, takes a nasty turn, we are prepared to respond to stormy situations.
Once GVI has matched a participant to a program that suits their passions and goals, our team aims to set the right expectations for them. In the event that false expectations around a program are created, the GVI team takes immediate action to ensure that the situation rectified.
24-hour emergency desk
24-hour in-country support
Access to Alumni Services and Discounts
Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
All necessary project equipment and materials
All necessary project training by experienced staff
Long term experienced staff
Meals while on project (except on work placements for long term internships)