Eleven students from the sixth form travelled Kathmandu in Nepal over the Christmas holiday with a major focus of helping with the rebuilding of a school following the earthquake back in April 2015. We worked at the Shree Ganesh Secondary School about an hour’s drive from the capital Kathmandu. The area surrounding the school is terraced for growing crops and the community mainly earn their living from subsistence farming so they are very poor.
During the earthquake one of the school’s four buildings collapsed and two were deemed unsafe due to the damage sustained.
This has meant for the last 20 months the school has merged some classes and are using the two safe buildings for teaching. These circumstances have led to some students stopping attendance at school to stay at home and help on the family farms. If they are out of school for a few months then they are unlikely to return and they will only be able to take low paid employment in the future. Education is the key to improving their life chances.
We dismantled one of the damaged buildings and helped with the rebuilding of the second. This involved digging foundations, mixing mortar and concrete, laying bricks and plastering. By the time we left this building was all but complete.
We would like to thank Glaxo, Lakeside Hotel and the Netherwood Hotel for their generous donations of prizes for the raffle which raised £197. The students at the school are short of basic school equipment. So the money allowed us to purchase 6 exercise books, four pencils, two erasers and two pencil sharpeners for each of the 180 children in the school. We were also able to visit an orphanage and made donations of English reading books and football shirts as well as running some sporting activities for some of the kids there.
Whilst in Nepal we visited some of the major sites of Kathmandu, including Bodhnath, the largest stupa in Nepal, where much of the community is made up of Tibetans who fled their country in 1959 following the unsuccessful uprising against the Chinese. As the sun set the community walk around the stupa turning the many prayer wheels which surround it. As well as a religious ceremony it is also a social event for the community. Pashupatinath temple is the most important Hindu site in Nepal. It is located on the banks of the Bagmati river, a holy river, and so is a popular place for cremations.
In addition to the hard work we experienced some of the local culture with a yoga class and some typical Nepalese dancing.
One student summed up their thoughts on the trip as follows:
“It was a real privilege to be able to do meaningful work in such a diverse and beautiful country. The local engineers and masons were wonderful – so patient as they demonstrated the construction processes and corrected our mistakes. Although it’s great – for us as volunteers – how simple the structures are because we can make quick progress, it is also shocking how the children must get an education equivalent to ours with so few resources, while we take for granted the millions spent on our buildings, books and comfy sofas. But they never stop smiling.”
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Mr Fay c/o Mrs A Herman (Headteacher's PA)
Ulverston Victoria High School
Springfield Road, Ulverston, Cumbria, LA12 0EB
Tel: 01229 483900