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  • Andrea Schmelcher

Much Love From Kathmandu





I volunteered with VIN in 2009, after completing my university studies. One of my courses touched on microcredit and the profound impact that an extra dollar earned by a mother has on her children and her wider community. I finished my schooling ahead of schedule, and decided to volunteer somewhere I could put this in action, using the extra time and tuition I had saved.


The women’s empowerment program, and specifically the microcredit aspect of it, is unlike any other program aided by a nonprofit. Because VIN helps the women learn an income generative skill, save some of their profits, and pool these together, the women have actually become the lenders of capital, not just borrowers.


VIN was a perfect fit, found after much research and confirmed after corresponding with the founder, Bhupi. I found Bhupi’s warmth through emails escalated rather quickly from “regards” to “much love from Kathmandu” in a matter of a few exchanges, but this is telling of the typically warm Nepali spirit.


After my volunteer term was complete, I trekked to Everest Base Camp, and encountered the same generous attitude all along the way. Before departing to return home, I promised my wonderful homestay family that I would be back. Indeed, I returned for a visit in 2012 while on an Annapurna Circuit trekking vacation.


I have remained in regular contact with VIN, Bhupi, and my homestay family. I am proud to be involved with an amazing nonprofit, and the wonderful partners around the world who continue to support their programs.


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