Volunteering in Monastery
After a full month of volunteering in rural Nepal, I’m off to my next destination in Thalyin, Myanmar. I’ve volunteered for many years at this point, with several NGOs across the world. Normally, volunteering boiled down to contributing one type of service: manual labor. Whether I was building schools and homes, landscaping, or taking care of animals, there was always a physical aspect to my work. I love it, despite the physical toll it can take on your body. I consider it one of the most direct ways to affect change through volunteering.
There was, however, one activity I’ve consciously avoided. I’ve never quite had the drive to be a caregiver. I respect doctors and nurses alike, but I have always been apprehensive about providing care, however menial or basic. There was something inside me telling me that I wasn’t mentally or emotionally ready to work in this capacity. These feelings of insecurity reminded me that I must continue to conquer my fears and doubts. After all, I wasn’t sure I’d be out in the world, volunteering and helping those in need. If I can leave behind a life of comfort and security, then surely I can continue to break through my comfort zone- if not for me, than for someone in need. With this in mind, I confirmed a seven-week stay with TheBarWa, a center dedicated to unrestricted care and lodging for the sick and infirm, as well as monks and volunteers. The only requirement is that everyone meditates every day.
As I sat in the airport in Kathmandu, I began to worry about whether or not I was ready for this. The airline announced that the flight was cancelled, and rescheduled for the following day. I thought maybe this was some sort sign. But as I arrived to my hotel room to bunk with a fellow traveler, I opened the door to find a monk. He hardly spoke any English, but we spent the night and the following day together. I helped him with his bags and find his terminal the next day. In some small way, I was providing a bit of care to this man. I have a shaved head as well, so naturally people mistook me for a monk in training! It was a sign after all. I’m looking forward to spending my time with monks on a daily basis, as I meditate and learn more about Buddhism
I’m not sure what to expect, but after all, that’s always half the fun. I’m ready to break my barriers.