Helen and Rafik met with headteacher Kamal Bikram and his wife Bimila whilst trekking in Ramechhap, Nepal. The school had no toilets, no stationery, few books and no IT equipment. The classrooms were dark and there was no provision for +2s (A level equivalents) so none of the children could study long enough at school to be able to access college.
Nepal was hit by two earthquakes. Helen and Rafik waited for news. There was no internet connection at the village, and no news.
At last a text came from Kamal 'Everyone is fine in the village... but homes and the school are damaged. We hope for your helping hands.'
Months of interrupted communication followed, roads were damaged, electricity intermittent and travel hampered by landslides.
Helen and Rafik searched for a partner charity and began fundraising. Their aim was to develop a sustainable education programme for the children from the five villages whom the school served.
After long hours of research, emails and phone calls Helen and Rafik found 'Love Nepal', a UK based charity with experience of working in this area and a good track record of delivery. Their experience, an engineer located in Nepal and attention to due diligence meant there was a clear way forward. A needs assessment was carried out. 600m of water pipes were purchased and carried to the school by Sherpas to bring fresh water back to the school.
Helen and Rafik returned to the school and village to see the progress and gave out awards at prize giving. They saw the water supply in place and the site identified to build toilets. The school now had a computer and the Nepali curriculum software. The purchase of a projector and screen was been agreed to enable group teaching. Raising funds for the school build continued. Bamboo shelters were used as classrooms.
Stationery was purchased from funds raised by Prestolee Primary school in Bolton and provided for all the children. This encouraged the children to come back to school even though they were still frightened about further earthquakes. The long term aims are to improve:
the learning environment and resources, and
access to higher education and professions.
Khola kharka Lullaby was written in the weeks following the earthquake and has been performed live at fundraising and music events. We tell the story about how two families from across the world have made a friendship leading to children from five villages in the Himalayan Mid Hills having access to education. It's a story of courage, compassion, possibilities, and the kindness and hospitality of strangers.
It was great to see the children with their backpacks this year. Kamal reports the School Leaving Certificate pass rate has moved from 30% to 50% in the 4 years we've been supporting the school. Huge thanks to The Derby High School in Bury who created a film for the children investigating seed dispersal as part of the University of Manchester's The Great Science Share for Schools, after which the children in Nepal carried out their own experiments!
The tender for building a science lab, library and computer suite is underway. Rebuilding Schools Nepal will provide all the equipment and furniture for these classrooms. Waterproof rucksacks have been purchased so the children can carry their books to and from school.
We were delighted to see good progress at this visit including the new toilets! We supplied stationery for all the children for a third year. A washing station was in place, library books purchased and new furniture. We enjoyed playing cricket with the children with the new cricket bats and balls donated along with chess sets! One of the temporary classrooms had blown away in a storm so fundraising for new classrooms continues.
Mike Tonge, CEO of Prestolee Multi-Academy Trust has been a valued supporter of Rebuilding Schools Nepal since we began. The children at Prestolee not only raised over £1000 for the school in Nepal, they also wrote letters for us to take for the children in Nepal.
Have a watch and see the smiles!