Volunteering in Nepal. Part 7: Culture

The orphanage where I was volunteering had kids from a wide age range. The smallest girl was 5, many kids were about 12–13 years old and 2 oldest boys were already attending university in a neighboring town. You can imagine my surprise when they told me they are not allowed to use mobile phones: the supervisors of the orphanage would take phones away if they find the kids with them.

Neither did the kids have access to computers: the orphanage didn’t have any. The older boys told me there was a group of volunteers from Qatar who donated some laptops and tablets to the orphanage but the kids never got to see them.

Why are the supervisors so harsh to the kids? Were they afraid kids could report on them? I don’t know what happened to the donated laptops, but I asked the supervisor about phones. He replied: “You know, there are also bad things on the Internet”. I was puzzled: “Do you mean Facebook?” “Not only. In the west, you have an open society. In Nepal, the society is closed. It is not alright for a boy and a girl to walk together”. The reason for forbidding the phones was to prevent kids from getting to know the western cultures and getting distracted from studies.

Later young women from Today’s Youth Asia where showing me around Kathmandu. They asked me: “What time do you need to be home in the evening?” “Well, I rarely out after 11 pm. How about you?” “My parents want me to be back by 7”. And that’s a twenty-something woman working till 5 pm.

Of course, things are changing and already now many families have embraced modern lifestyles. You can find discos in Kathmandu, which is very untypical for traditional Nepali culture. Some youngsters listen to jazz and dance salsa.

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