Schools facilities in Nepal are funded either by private interests or by the government. Private schools rely on ample tuition fees and often have relatively modern facilities, Government run schools, however, are perpetually underfunded and eke along with aging buildings that are typically 20-30 years old. Even under ideal conditions, the old facilities need constant repair and sprucing up to encourage children to attend.
School Facility Renovations Phase 1 - Before the Earthquakes
In early February of 2013, funding sent from WWEP enabled the local workers to start with the renovation of the small primary school in the remote village of Mendo. The small village lies virtually unnoticed to the throngs of trekkers and aid organizations who take the east fork in the road past Shyaprubesi to climb the great peaks of Langtang instead of the west fork that snakes towards the Tibetan border less than ten miles away. Here the staff from Care Himalayan Region works alongside hired workers in April 2013 to pour a new concrete floor and repaint the darkly stained walls to a bright white that would provide greater natural illumination inside the rooms. It was important to allow the children to enjoy the comfort of a newly renovated classroom, including carpet on the previously bare floor. The work was completed at a modest cost and was done in a relatively short time period during a school break. On the first day of school, the show of hope and joy on the faces of the students, their parents and the faculty of the school was an immediate sign of great success. With just a small upgrade to the aging structure, WWEP was able to lift the spirits of the entire community by providing an atmosphere much more conducive to learning and proper education.
School Facility Renovations - Phase 2 - Surveying the Damage of the Quakes
On April 25, 2015, Nepal was hit with multiple devastating earthquakes. Although some of our recent work had been lost in the disaster, all parties involved stepped up immediately to create temporary structures to accommodate the students while permanent structures were being planned.
I am shown here with Ranjan Bhattarai of Sindhu Utthan Kendra Nepal as we tour the damage at the Shree Balkayan School and also the temporary structures that WWEP was able to build very quickly after the quakes and aftershocks subsided.
Photo: Rajan Bhattarai
Photo Rajan Bhattarai
School Facility Renovations - Phase 3 - Rebuilding a New Community After the Earthquakes
With the entire primary school at Mendo rendered a total loss due to the violent shaking of the earthquakes, a new facility was the immediate plan of action. Thanks to an enormous outpouring of support, we were able to re-build the school with more resilient wood construction. The new school was built in record time, given the harsh conditions of bitter cold winters and sweltering rainy monsoon summers. The students were able to start classes again the following year in a new building that was far easier to maintain than the previous one.
But alas, the small play yard for the children was altered from a grassy patch to a pile of sharp rocks. Perched on a ridge line high above the valley below, the school yard required the children to manage on what is basically the edge of a steep cliff where errant soccer balls would often tumble nearly a kilometer to the river below.
At the suggestion of our partner Passang Lama, the resident facilitator for the Mendo project, a new play yard for the children was high on the wish list of the local villagers. Passang had volunteered so much of his time over the years helping hundreds of children, both in this rural village and in the urban capital of Kathmandu, and his insights for their well being always shows when I visit the schools in Nepal. In December of 2017, our donors helped raise the funds to totally renovate the aging play yard to a safe and suitable place for the children to gather on their breaks between classes. With funding delivered to Nepal in February 2018, construction began for the new yard and proceeds along as weather permits.
Photo: Urkin Tamang