Marlee Kohn’s Experience in Nepal

Marlee Khon
Volunteer Name:Marlee Khon
Project Attended:Empower Women On A Sustainable Agriculture Initiative
Country Attended:Nepal
What made you choose this particular project? I chose this project because it combines two important passions of mine: sustainability and the empowerment of women – two seemingly exclusive areas of focus, that in fact pair quite well with each other from a development perspective. This is an extremely innovative project, where the ecological building efforts are complimented by sustainable agricultural practices, preserving biodiversity through land management, all while helping to empower rural Nepalese women.
Can you tell us a bit more about your role on the project? As a volunteer on the farm, I followed the everyday life of a woman living there. I helped with daily work – gathering fire wood, planting seedlings, hoeing the land, cutting and chopping trees and grass for animal feed, cooking, cleaning. In addition to the daily workings on a farm, I helped build an extension of the farm, made from sustainable materials (e.g. bamboo, cow dung, mud).
What does travelling as a volunteer mean to you vs travelling as a tourist? Living and being immersed within the Nepalese culture was far more valuable and worthwhile than simply touring around the cities and villages. I learned about the political and economic struggles from several locals. I would not have been able to do so if I were just travelling through.
How has the experience affected you? I am forever changed. I have traveled several times and embrace all cultures and new experiences, but every experience is different. This project opened my eyes to a community that needs to continue to grow. While the project is having extremely positive effects, change takes time. Nepalese women still face many struggles and the organization is often criticised for trying to modernise Nepal.


Testimonial


“I learned how to make sustainable building materials and to develop the surrounding agriculture – making it an educational experience. I will be able to bring these learnings back in both a tangible way – by relating directly to my line of work in supporting the implementation of green building features, and in a transcendent way – with respect to idea generation and my goal of inspiring creative juices within my current work and future projects.”