Testimonials from happy visitors and volunteers
Watch a video from some of our recent volunteers: Volunteering at the School
Read the personal stories of visitors and volunteers from all across the world:
I think the kids are the key reasons I have been back twice, although trekking in the countryside is spectacular. They are so innocent, adorable, polite, etc. I also enjoyed the science experiments we did with the boys and girls as they are so smart, eager to learn, and happy to take leadership or join a team.
People there are friendly and hospitable – although they are poor in wealth, they are rich in mind.
Hong Kong, Visitor
It was a privilege to visit Hangdewa school in its early years. This sunny, yellow school nestles in stunning scenery in rural Nepal. It feels like the end of the world but you can see from the smiles on the children’s faces that this school is fostering a love of learning and is opening up opportunities previously denied to them. It is a hopeful, happy place and deserves support especially when one thinks of how privileged our own children are in the UK to have access to a good education. Well done Lesley and Q Learning – what an achievement
United Kingdom, Visitor
Our Volunteering Trip to Nepal
If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be treated like royalty or a celebrity, go to Nepal! The people there are the most friendly and welcoming you could ever wish to find anywhere, and as volunteers we always felt valued and appreciated.
Our trip started with a very long journey – three planes – London to Istanbul to Kathmandu, and a short local flight to Bhadrapur, then an 8 hour drive in a Jeep to Taplejung, and finally a walk of an hour and a half. After that journey you realise that Hangdewa is in a really remote part of the Himalayas, which you can see all around you – the scenery is amazing everywhere you go.
Moti, who was part of the founding of the school, met us at Kathmandu, and came with us all the way there. A number of teachers from the school also came to meet us and walked with us for the final part of the journey – a lovely beginning to our stay.
Our volunteer role was to give lessons to all the pupils in the school: Georgie on art, and Owen and Thomas on sport. Some sports, like football, were very familiar to the boys, but we introduced the girls to it too, and for everyone things like table tennis and badminton were new, so they all enjoyed learning and competing in house teams. We had a sports day at the end, everyone threw themselves into it which made it a very lively and successful competition.
In the art classes Georgie helped them to create a painting either of rural or urban life, making sure that everyone was involved, then all the images were put together to make a big display at the end of the week for everyone to see. What we could also see was how the children grew in confidence as well as acquiring new skills – particularly the girls.
Moti is a great believer in equality in what is still a patriarchal society, so the girls get the same academic education as the boys, and after our visit, that will apply to art and sports too. At break times the girls had nowhere to play games, so we tried staggering the lunch break, so that the girls had space to play sports like football or volleyball, and when we got back, we were sent a video of the girls playing football, which is something they’d never done before and that’s when we realised we’d really created change!
Running the classes was hard, and it was a tiring week, but in a very good way. At the beginning many of the children were shy, and perhaps a bit intimidated by us coming into their school from a very different background. This all disappeared very quickly, and by the end of the week they were sharing photos and funny TikTok videos with us.
The children were always keen to learn, and so clearly enjoyed what we did with them. We were impressed with the standard of their English, and with the maturity some of them showed. For example, the Head Boy was 15, and really took responsibility for looking after us, in a way we would not expect of someone of that age in the UK. He took us on a walk to the suspension bridge, which is quite a challenging experience to walk over, as the bridge crosses high above a deep river valley. As with everywhere we went, the scenery is beautiful and totally unspoiled.
On the way back it rained so one of the children who came with us invited us into their home, gave us a drink and provided umbrellas!
Going to a place like this is a life changing experience – it’s not like just going away on holiday, because you get to understand a very different way of life, which gives you a great perspective on your own, and made us realise how lucky we are.
We were invited into a number of the village houses. Some were teachers, others parents of children in the school, and so we saw first-hand how they live, what they eat and drink. For example, they never eat with guests, which felt uncomfortable for us, but it is the Nepalese custom to serve visitors first. When they do eat, the men are always served first, and they all eat with their hands, although we were always given cutlery to use.
Someone special was Manoj, a senior teacher, who looked after us so well, and invited us twice to his home for a meal. We found the food to be tasty – a lot of rice and dahl usually with chicken or pork – we were given meat every day – an honour reserved for guests. Manoj’s wife Rosalia made us momos one evening – they are a kind of dumpling and a special treat! They served the local tea to drink, which was excellent, better than a cup of tea you’d get in England.
We all feel we have grown in confidence now. At the beginning, when we went to introduce ourselves to each class, it was really hard, but at the end, we were all able to say a proper goodbye speech to each group, and we really noticed the difference.
We were all sad to be leaving, as we’d formed a real connection with everyone.
We had an amazing week in Hangdewa. What made our trip exceptional was that in just that short time, we were able to make a difference to the children in the school. We could see it in their faces – in the pride in what we had helped them to achieve – that was so very rewarding. So much so that we want to go back to see what progress they have made and help them to progress even more in the future.
Georgie, Owen and Thomas
I visited the school and village in November 2017 before the local airport became operational. Despite the long journey to get there, I was rewarded by discovering a thriving centre of learning filled with young children, often trekking for hours every day in order to attend, with a hunger for knowledge.
It was clear that the school was the centrepiece of the village with proud parents taking the time to chat to their neighbours as they walked their children to the school gate. The community is proud of their school and the doors it can open for their children. And, by visiting the school, you can see what a difference it can make to these young lives. I hope it continues to expand and continues to offer education to those who might otherwise miss out.
Staying in the village was truly a lifetime experience: waking up to panoramic views of some of the most untouched, beautiful and wild nature I’ve ever seen. The teachers and families of the village were incredibly warm and friendly, and I felt at home, especially with the incredible wood-stove-cooked food made to suit me as a Vegan – I still dream of it!
I worked with the children on painting murals of their village and local wildlife, as well as many fun and creative activities (like making woven bracelets, flower painting and paper aeroplane competitions) which for me as a fashion designer was engaging … and a great way of learning their customs and way of life.
An experience I will never forget.
United Kingdom, Volunteer
When I was in Hangdewa I was impressed with how eager the children were to learn. They enjoyed a wide variety of lessons including traditional dancing. They were delighted with the books and lego blocks we brought because of course they have so very little.
It’s easy to take everything we have for granted like eye tests for example. These children would not have access to routine eye examinations but statistically some of them must have had issues. So when Sharon and I were able to carry out some simple eye tests it showed that at least 6 needed a proper test. Fortunately all the teachers eyes were fine!!
United Kingdom, Visitor
I cannot begin to explain what an amazing time I had during my three-month stay in Hangdewa, Nepal. I am convinced that volunteering at the local school was the best thing that could have happened to me before going to university.
The people in Hangdewa welcomed my friend and I like family and were more than happy to show us their village and culture. They went out of their way to make us feel at home and were always happy to help whenever we needed something. On our free weekends they would often take us on wonderful trips to the nearby mountains. Most of the families in the village invited us into their homes to have lunch together or sometimes just to talk over some tea and biscuits. Despite the language barrier, those conversations were always extremely interesting, and I will never forget their generosity and hospitality towards us.
The children at the Q-Learning school were all very bright, curious and most of all eager to learn and it was a pleasure to work with them. The village itself is absolutely beautiful and every day we were waking up to an amazing view of the mountains, the fields and the river down the valley.
I have learned more than I could have imagined in those three months, not only about a foreign country and culture, but also about myself. I feel extremely lucky to have been offered the chance to volunteer at the Q-Learning school and I cannot wait to return to Hangdewa someday and to be reunited with all those lovely people who made my stay in Nepal an experience I will never forget.
When I was in Hangdewa I was overwhelmed by the welcome and the friendliness of the children who proudly invited me into their school for a day of lessons with them. I have great memories of playing football on the side of the mountain and enjoying the dancing and singing by the villagers on our final evening. An amazing experience that will stay with me for life. (Owen Cove who visited with his family when he was 10 years old).
· Real darkness
· Waking up and breathing in pure air
· The generosity of local people who have so little eg sacrificing the goat,
· The ingenuity of people who have little or no formal education – the reservoir and the way they live off the land eg using a twig as a toothbrush
· The huge smiles of delight on the children when we gave them a pencil and note book. The noise only of children laughing ( no crying the whole time we were there)
· Their enthusiasm for school and how far some of them would travel to school (the children we met from Suketar higher up the mountain)
· The gratitude of villagers
Karen and Thomas Cove
United Kingdom, Visitors
The work my colleague and I did at the school was incredibly rewarding. We felt that we were part of an important process of transformation and development, and could, quite literally, change lives with our contribution.
It is genuinely a pleasure to support children in Hangdewa so that they can get a proper education – and the best way I know in which to spend money.
United Kingdom, Donor
The thing that hit me the most when staying in Hangdewa is that it is so peaceful that it seems as if time has stopped. Being amongst untouched nature: jungle and forest – and farms with paddy fields – descend down the mountain, with goats bleating and buffaloes lowing and the river far down in the valley and the snow-capped mountains up so high, made me feel like I was at the edge of the world: the furthest I could be from English civilisation.
My diet was, by choice, the most healthy one possible: with the freshest of vegetables, home grown rice and local meat made into delicious curries with homemade flat breads ….or a breakfast of eggs from the chickens beside me and honey from next door. So a trip to the Taplejung Bazaar meant I could buy treats of chocolate and naughty drinks….which really was very welcome!
I instantly felt like I had a circle of friends for life as soon as I arrived in Nepal … so by the time I arrived in Hangdewa everyone felt like my family! It may seem that our worlds are far apart and yet, when we were hiking up a mountain together, it was amazing the common ground we could find and how much laughter there was. The villagers and children treated me as a celebrity (even a goddess!) – so if you have ever wondered what that is like, all you need to do is step foot in the school where all the children will want selfies with you and, if you are lucky, will dance traditional dances for you.
To sum up , there is a huge welcoming warmth and generosity of friendship that came my way as well as being in a very special place. A trip I will always remember.
United Kingdom, Visitor
I had the opportunity to stay in Hangdewa for about five months and, whilst doing some volunteering in the school, did some truly awesome treks. It’s an incredibly special place with beautiful views and so peaceful; there is a wide variety of trails and paths for all. We started with half day walks and ended with going all the way to Kangchenjunga Base Camp. This was so much more than just volunteering (and learning to speak Nepali): these months were truly life-time experiences
United Kingdom, Volunteer
Our trip to Nepal and the village of Hangdewa, with Q Learning, really was an experience like no other. If you want an ‘off the beaten track’ adventure then this is it! When we were in Hangdewa, we were blown away by the hospitality and friendliness of the local people. They were curious, accommodating and incredibly welcoming and happy to see us. Not only that, but the scenery was simply breathtaking. Far removed from the busyness of our usual lives, the stunning scenery, rugged mountains and simplicity of life was a real tonic and a chance to feel connected with what’s important in life. The trekking on offer was fantastic and provided opportunities to really experience the mountains and local countryside and get a glimpse of rural life in this magical place.