Fashion Blogger and Volunteer Extraordinaire Travels to Nepal!

Meet Lilyanne, a fashion blogger from Vancouver with an edgy style and a passion for life.  I had the chance to catch up with Lilyanne about her recent Quest to Nepal.

It was great to hear about her trip—the people she met, the places she saw, the independence she gained—the list goes on.  Here are some of the highlights as well as a few pictures from her 4 week long journey.

Lilyanne, posing for a recent post on her well-known fashion blog, "Bleed For Fashion"

Lilyanne, posing for a recent post on her well-known fashion blog, “Bleed For Fashion”

According to the “about me” section of her incredibly popular blog, “Bleed For Fashion,” Lilyanne describes herself as, “Vancouver-based, Calgary-raised. Dreamer. Inspiration seeker. A wall that so few can hurdle across.”

She certainly took a trip outside her comfort zone while traveling to Nepal, and the “dreamer and inspiration seeker” portion of her personality was put to the test.

Considering this was her first time traveling independently to a foreign country, there were obviously aspects that took some getting used to, but all in all her trip was a success.

She remarked, “Overall it was really great.  There was a lot to get used to, but given the chance to stay longer I would’ve, and I’m determined to go back.”

Lilyanne’s first major adjustment was to the capital city of Kathmandu where she spent the majority of her 4 week trip.

She said the traffic and congestion was overwhelming at first; not surprising as it is the largest metropolitan in the country, and has nearly one million inhabitants.

A View of Prayer Flags in Kathmandu

A View of Prayer Flags in Kathmandu

After a week or so she was able to embrace the intensity of the city, and by the end of the four weeks she said, “I was able to see quite a bit–nothing really shocked me anymore.”

Another adjustment Lilyanne faced head-on was at the orphanage where she volunteered.  She quickly realized that the approach to schedules and following a routine is a bit different in Nepal than what she’s used to back home.

“It was up to me to schedule how much time I wanted to spend at the orphanage. It’s a very different structure; you have to be creative and think on the spot.  My priority was at the children’s home, and I tried to give everyone equal attention.”

One of adorable orphan children, Rajeshwori

There were 28 children at the orphanage she worked at and about 4 other volunteers who overlapped with her time there.  She made the most of her time by splitting the children into smaller groups so no one was left out.

Lilyanne was constantly impressed by the incredible children at the orphanage, explaining, “they’re amazing children! So smart– and they all have their own personalities.”

She recounted one of her most memorable experiences in Nepal, an experience that happened to combine her love for shoes with the joy and beauty of volunteering. During her days at the shelter, she couldn’t help but notice that many of the children didn’t have proper footwear—and some didn’t have shoes at all.

She and another amazing volunteer at the shelter decided to take the 28 children to a shoe store downtown and bought them each a new pair of shoes.

 

Shoe shopping!

As you can imagine, it meant the world to each of the young kids.  Lilyanne recalled happily, “to see their faces light up for something we so easily take for granted really warmed my heart.  For the first time in my life I really felt like I was doing something right.”

Another major adjustment she faced during her Quest was being without a set support system of family and friends.

“In a foreign country you can only rely on yourself.  I learned a lot about myself, and definitely became a more independent person.”

Throughout her time she also learned to lean on the staff and friends she made at the orphanage, remarking, “by the end I was so sad to leave; I made relationships with people that now feel like family.”

Her host family was incredible and had a huge impact on her trip. They made the transition into foreign life comfortable, loving, and exciting.

I could almost hear her beaming through the phone as she gushed, “I couldn’t have been happier with the family I was placed with.  I clicked with my host mother immediately—she spoke almost perfect English.” Laughing, she continued, “I’m also Vietnamese, and my host mother and I actually looked alike!  I was often mistaken as a local.”

Lilyanne also easily bonded with her host sister, and they were even able to spend time together at the orphanage during a holiday while her host-sister was on vacation from school.

Lilyanne and her host-sister on the last day at the orphanage

Though most of her time and energy was spent at the orphanage, she was also able to enjoy the culture and beauty of Nepal.

She got to go to some of the main Buddhist and Hindu temples around Kathmandu, and even witness an eye-opening live cremation at a Hindu temple.

She said it was fascinating to explore the beautiful temples, especially since religion is such a major part of the culture and heritage of Nepal in general.

During Dashain, “the most auspicious festival in the Nepalese annual calendar,” she found time to travel to Pokhara, the third largest city in Nepal.

Beautiful Pokhara

She shared with her many followers in one recent post,

“I had the chance to be rid of the crowds, noise and pollution of Kathmandu and leave for higher ground for a couple of days. Located 200 km west of Kathmandu, Pokhara is the third largest city in Nepal.

Surrounded by beautiful peaks of the Himalayas, luscious green forests and the magnificent Phewa Tal lake, Pokhara is a remarkable place of natural beauty and for some R&R.

Her trip only raised her spirits further as she found more and more to love about the country of Nepal.

Lilyanne had an amazing trip and made a deep and meaningful impression on the people she met.  Here’s some advice she had to share—what a great approach to life she has!

“Go in with open heart and mind. In the beginning I struggled. I needed to remind myself this was my decision—I made it on my own—I had to just tell myself what I’m doing is for a purpose and I need to embrace it and live in the moment.  Remember: Stay humble and give back. You never know when you’re changing someone’s life, or saving it.”

A mother and daughter in Thimi

Thanks, Lilyanne, from all of us at United Planet. You made a meaningful impact on the lives of so many deserving children, and you’ll surely be remembered every time they look down at their feet!

If you’re interested in volunteering abroad in Nepal, here’s some more information about United Planet Quests, and how you can get involved in over 40 countries around the world! For more highlights from Lilyanne’s trip, including pictures and videos, be sure to check out her blog!