I had just graduated from college and decided to research options for volunteering abroad. After going through countless organizations, I came across RCDP Nepal as one of the most reputable and highly rated, as well as ideally placed all around Nepal, especially high up in the Himalayas where I would end up volunteering. Before graduating, I committed to the program, and flew out to Kathmandu in late June, and am only now (in November) flying back home to the States. RCDP Nepal was incredibly valuable in getting me to my project, and handling my logistical issues (like flights, passport visa, etc). Saman especially was of great help at many crux times during my time here, and Hom was all in all very helpful when I needed him. In terms of my project itself, I first volunteered at the Pema Choling Primary School in Ghat for my first four weeks in the Khumbu region of the Himalayas, and then taught at the nearby Pema Choling monastery for the next 3 months. Though both were valuable in their own way, I found the monastery much more rewarding, and the need for education much greater.
Mind you I was primarily in the Khumbu during the monsoon, and for the majority of my time I was the only volunteer. During the high season starting in September, many more volunteers started to arrive, and by the time I left, there were more than enough, both for the monastery and the nearby school.
What I will say in respectful criticism of RCDP Nepal, is that there was few guidelines in terms of how to perform once at your project. You are thrown into a teaching situation and expected to perform. Teaching is not easy to begin with, I'm the first to admit to that fact, so there is only so much they can do. However, I'm of the opinion that there needs to be more information on your particular project before jumping in. Luckily at the monastery, there was a dedicated network of previous volunteers, some of which working with RCDP Nepal, that are still invested in the young monks there even long after their teaching periods have ended. So there is communication on that front. However there is still a lot to do, and I think RCDP Nepal could be more effective by keeping in touch with current volunteers so new ones can be better informed when they actually arrive at the project. All that said, this is Nepal, and you are a volunteer with a purpose, in this case the education of poor village children. You are expected to go beyond whatever may be prescribed. And I strove to do just that during my time there, and I was incredibly sad to leave the monastery, for my connections are now lifelong, and I expect to come back. I can never thank RCDP Nepal enough for making that connection possible.
It's a complex issue, and I think if you are interested in taking part in the program, keep in mind that 1 or 2 weeks (even 3) is simply not enough. If you are familiar with the term "voluntourism," the "volunteers" that think they can make a difference in such a short a time need a reality check. To air one more criticism, I don't think RCDP should condone such short volunteer periods, it propagates the problem that voluntourism poses, particularly the rapid succession of teachers who simply jolt the students' sense of consistency, which is something that is hard earned up there.
RCDP Nepal is not trying to pull your leg, and I can assuredly say that this was the experience of a lifetime. They tell you in plain terms what they'll do for you, and they do just that. But when it comes to making more of a difference in the communities you travel all this way to help, there needs to be more of an effort on RCDP's part.
If you have any questions or concerns, I would be happy to address them if you contact me, at least when I have the time available.