My name is Jharana Rai and I am in-charge of Earthquake Relief Project launched by YouMe Nepal. I am based in our country office in Kathmandu, Nepal.
The effect of devastating earthquake that struck Nepal in April-May 2015, causing damage to over half a million buildings and taking away the lives of about 9000 people was a heart wrenching moment for Nepalese people. Witnessing the destruction has almost left indelible scars to the people as most of them had to bear separation from their families forever.
This was a kind of breakthrough for a country like Nepal that had almost never felt the predicament of the earthquake consequences. This was when the country saw the power of unity where everyone from inside and outside the country came together for the support.
(Aftermath of Great earthquake in Nepal, 2015)
Similarly, the deadly quake affected every sector of the country including the educational sector. Several thousand schools had a hard time resuming classes owing to the damage inflicted and the fear of repeated aftershocks back then. The educational institutions were nearly closed for two months; students were bound to stay back home because of the constant fear of aftershocks and the severe damages caused to the buildings by earthquake. After the quake, the main priorities of people were education and the shelter.
Thus, YouMe Nepal started out with the conclusion of making Temporary Learning Centre (TLC) as a short term relief project for the earthquake stricken schools. Initially, we set off with implementing the project in Lamjung district’s remote village in Pahcok, VDC; that lies in Gandaki zone of North-Western Nepal. This village was one of the severely affected area in Lamjung district where not many helping hands dared to go. Pachok Secondary School with 350 students, serving the 2 wards of the village was not in the condition to operating classes. Though the school had received some tarpaulins from some INGOs, it was still not in a condition to run normal classes. What further aggravated the case was the start up of rainy season in Nepal.
Our primary objective was to provide the earthquake affected children a safe and protected learning environment where they can study until the government reinstates the school.
(Overview picture of school)
(The walls were damaged)
(The condition of classroom was not functional at all)
Despite numerous hurdles and hardships we were successful in making 2 TLC’s for Pachok Secondary School, for what inspired us most amidst the complicated circumstances was we could at least provide them the roof where they could continue their studies safely.
(The students studying at their newly constructed Temporary Learning Centre)
In the second phase, we were again approached by the Principal of Ilam Devi Primary School of the same VDC that had 37 students studying previously. It was the same village but the wards were different. So, starting out the work in even a farther distance was another adrenaline experience for us. However, with the ongoing strikes, the worsening condition of roads, challenging weather and a limited manpower, we still managed to do everything smoothly and successfully.
(The School’s previous temporary shelter)
(The wall of the School was entirely collapsed)
(The process of making TLC for Ilam Devi Primary School)
Though it was for temporary usage, we didn’t want to compromise on the safety and quality. To this cause, we opted for metal truss for long lasting result. It was a life changing experience for us, we went through a process where we had to build a school that is functional and safe at the same time.
Completing the construction of two TLC’s simultaneously in spite of various difficulties and complications we faced during the process, we realized that the situation we went through was nothing as compared to seeing bright smiles on the faces of innocent children. This was merely the least we could do for them to give a shelter to study continuously without any problem of sun or rain. As concerned with the student’s sanitation, we even provided two toilet pans and one water tank that could be used after their new toilet construction for both the schools.
At the moment, we are working on our big dream project where 5 to 6 children will be benefited from our Sponsorship Program. We have made some flexibility on the choice in terms of selection of these students, considering the current situation of the country. Some of the children we are choosing are real earthquake victims and others are indeed a family who are in dire need of financial support to help their children continue their studies. We are still in ongoing procedures of meeting the parents, children and finalizing the schools according to the requirement of both children and parents. Soon, we will be releasing the list of our sponsored children. The aim of this project is not only to support them financially but to conduct a process where we can perpetually monitor on their education and figure out the way to motivate them on making their future brighter.
The aftermath of great earthquake was a phase where we saw the downfall of so many infrastructures. However, it was also the time where we saw and experienced the power of unification. Therefore, the whole journey from making TLC’s to sponsoring the children has made us little wiser. Our journey till date has been full of priceless emotions and encounters. Learning from the mistakes, we are committed to move forward only to bring a little change to people’s life and their thinking. To our understanding, this is the asset we want to gain and own in our every work and effort.