Nepal Relief Update

In April 2015 a massive earthquake in Nepal caused huge structural damage, killed around 9000 people and rendered millions homeless. The financial cost of the damage has been estimated at around US$10 billion – or about half of Nepal’s GDP.

The response around the world was tremendous and many countries, organisations and individuals made huge financial contributions to provide aid and money for reconstruction.

DBGS has been visiting Nepal since 2008 when we undertook our first Everest Base Camp Expedition. Because of the connections we have made in Nepal, staff and students wanted to do something to help the earthquake victims so we launched a number of fund raising events.

Initially we made direct financial contributions though Samden Sherpa, a trusted Nepali we have been working with closely since 2007. Through him we were able to provide financial assistance to a number of remote villages by hiring a large team of local porters and carrying in both food supplies, tents and corrugated sheets for shelter construction. We were also able to provide aid to construct shelters at a nunnery. We donated 90 tents to two remote villages to provide emergency shelter before the monsoon season began.

By 2016 it was clear that the government of Nepal was being somewhat slow in providing much needed relief efforts in more remote parts of the country. Having already made contributions of over SR30,000 for emergency relief, we decided to provide some direct assistance by visiting Nepal again. Last Spring Break 45 members of staff, parents and students from DBGS and ISG visited Nepal for a trek to do community work and help support schools damaged in the Earthquake. Initially we visited and repainted a school at Nuwakot, talked to students and donated stationery and sporting items. While these donations and work were of definite benefit to the students at the school it was not until we trekked to the more remote Bhume Devi Higher Secondary School that we fully realised that it is more inaccessible places that really need assistance.

Providing education to 410 senior school students, Bhume Devi Higher Secondary School was completely destroyed in the earthquake of 2015.  Being high in the hills and a long way from the nearest real road, the school had received very little assistance, apart from a provision of corrugated iron sheeting from a Japanese NGO. This sheeting had been used to build temporary classrooms and the school staff were struggling to keep the school functioning. Realising that DBGS could make a real difference here, we decided to make a contribution of five lakh (around SR17500) to the school so that they could begin some reconstruction. Desert Design’s owner made an additional contribution of US$1000 too.

On our return from the trip, we asked parents if they would like to donate surplus funds from the trip to the school, or would prefer a refund.  The majority of parents and teachers chose to donate funds to the school. Ms Basma also contributed an additional SR7000. Students and staff also organised bake sales and other fund raising events across both the Primary and Senior School. As a result we were able to make an additional donation of approximately SR21,000 before the end of the 2016 school year.

Unfortunately Samden Sherpa suffered a stroke earlier this year, and without any reliable way to get money into Nepal, we held some additional funds in school over the summer. During the last week’s Eid vacation, Paula Bree Grice and Nick Hardcastle visited Nepal once again and were able to visit Bhume Devi to deliver further funds.

The school has made good progress since April 2016. They have replaced the temporary structures with seven, well-designed and strong classrooms. Two new toilets have been built and two badly damaged classrooms have been reconstructed. By working in shifts, the school is still managing to provide education to the 410 students, some of whom have to walk two hours to the school. However, further construction is badly needed. On this visit, DBGS was able to make a contribution of just over 18 lakh – about US$17,000. These funds will go to repair the ground floor of the old school which a local engineer has deemed sufficiently stable to justify saving.

Over the course of this year we hope to continue our fund raising for the school. We would like to provide approximately another SR50,000 to finish the building project. The hope is to build a lightweight and earthquake proof second story to one of the buildings, and to get the school’s computer and science labs open again.

We believe that the efforts DBGS has been able to make to support Bhume Devi Higher Secondary School are particularly important. Not only are we securing the education and safety of a large number of students in a remote area, but the fact that materials have to be bought locally and transported manually to the village since landslides have destroyed the road, helps provide much needed work.

The next stage we hope to explore is to provide two scholarships a year to students, from the region, so that they can complete their higher education in Kathmandu.

In March/April this year, DBGS will be sending two groups to Nepal again. One group will undertake our fourth Everest Base Camp Expedition, and the other will make the trek to Bhume Devi to deliver further help and interact with students.

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Senior School London Theatre/Art Trip 2016: Day 7, our last day

Our last day – After breakfast we headed across the river for our last two workshops again at the National Theatre. As part of our research on Design for the morning workshop we watched the NT’s production of “Frankenstein”. Later students took part in the second workshop on Acting. Much fun during both… The afternoon was spent back over the river around Covent Garden for final shopping treats, before dining at Wagamama’s. To round off then – once again we have a had hugely successful trip with students having great fun, but also being challenged and stimulated by great theatre, fantastic workshops and soaking up all the cultural ‘must see’s & do’s’ that London has to offer. (pictures to follow)

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Senior School London Theatre/Art Trip 2016: Day 6 update

We started today with a walk through Covent Garden for a spot of sightseeing in Trafalgar Square, before spending time in the National Gallery. Later, our ‘ensemble’  headed north towards Kings Cross for our last production of the trip, “The Railway Children”. The whole area around Kings Cross/St. Pancras has been brilliantly restored, revealing the genius of its original Victorian architects. For example, the huge grandiose front of St. Pancras station hotel had students in awe, wondering what the influences were on its design… Ottoman, Arab, Byzantine, Renaissance, Harry Potter, the Wizard of Oz, Game of Thrones?!?!?!?! E. Nesbitt’s famous story has been cleverly adapted for the stage, with the play being staged in an old railway engine shed. The production is an excellent example of narrative theatre, enhanced by a plethora of wonderful stage effects: hoots and whistles, billowing smoke and steam (lots and lots of it!), the sounds of thunderous locomotives, and the coup de theatre – the entrance of a beautifully restored 1890 break-screeching, hissing steam engine and carriage!! During our finale dinner treat at Jamie’s Italian, there was much discussion as to what was everyone’s favourite production, and most importantly, ‘Why?’ While “Matilda” was, understandably for a few, their ‘jaw-dropping’ favourite, or the ‘hysterically funny’ “Midsummer Night’s Dream”, or the ‘brilliantly imaginative’ “Curious Incident…” or the ‘wacky yet touching’ “Adolphus Tips/946”, the real surprise was that “1984” was for many students their number one choice! Given the at-times terrifying intensity of the production, and its dark vision of a future society, students might have been excused for choosing lighter fare.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Senior School London Theatre/Art Trip 2016: Day 5 update

London is basking in very warm weather at the moment, with the mercury touching 30C this morning as we set off for our next workshop. The warmth and sunshine makes the Thames South Bank one of the most most vibrant capital city river-sides there is. Crossing the river, we arrived at the National studio for a two-hour introduction to Commedia dell’Arte – an anarchic, riotous approach to improvisational comedy. This form of Italian masked comedy challenges everyone’s comfort zone, yet the students embraced the challenges with energy and much fun, creating some very entertaining sketches. Later, after a classic dinner of fish and chips at Covent Garden’s oldest ‘chippy’ we rounded off the day watching the staggeringly entertaining musical ‘Matilda’.

Senior School London Theatre/Art Trip 2016: Day 4 update

The day started with two of the younger students taking on the responsibility of Mr. Flynn’s role as Trip Leader, with them leading our ‘ensemble’ through some of London’s busiest streets, over the river (not into it!) to the National Theatre, where we had our first workshop. They did a great job leading with a reassuring confidence, and always keeping an eye on the stragglers and our numbers…

Workshop 1 was based on Physical Theatre techniques, using ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time’ as inspiration. The students had a fun time taking bold creative leaps devising, and realising just how physically (as well as mentally) fit an actor has to be …”I am TIRED…I feel like I’ve just played in 3 Volley Ball finals – all at once!!” was a typical refrain. After a shopping stop-over at the National’s book shop, we headed back to the hotel for a well-deserved rest. After dinner the ‘ensemble’ left for the evening’s performance of “1984”. The production has received great critical acclaim, and while Mr. Flynn prepared everyone with what Orwell’s dystopian view of the world was like, no one anticipated the full-on shock effect of the show. Running without an interval, the production was a tight one hundred minutes long, at times disturbing, terrifying and thought-provoking. As we met outside the theatre to re-group, it was ironic to notice that all but two students were on their devises – ‘Big Brother’ really is watching us all!

 

 

Senior School London Theatre/Art Trip 2016: Day 3 update

No rain, but late Indian-summer sunshine… A great morning to do some shopping! So off we went to explore Covent Garden’s Piazza and surrounding shops and street performers, and to buy a few treats for family back home. Then off we went to the Thames South Bank, admiring the riverside sand sculptures, and the numerous musicians, buskers and streets artists talents. We spent a couple of hours marvelling at the exhibits in the Tate Modern gallery, before arriving at Shakespeare’s Globe to watch ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. This time we joined the packed ‘Groundlings’ standing close to the stage to watch the whole show, and what a show it was! The previous night’s performance of ‘Adolphus Tips/964’ was it was said, likely to be the best piece of theatre anyone had seen – until tonight’s performance that is. This was an exuberant, boisterous, provocative and utterly hilarious version of The Dream, and one that kept everyone buzzing about it during the brisk long walk back to the hotel.

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Senior School London Theatre/Art Trip 2016: Day 2 update

We began our second day with a visit to the British Museum. With its huge collection of incredible artefacts all dedicated to human history, art and culture, the museum shows the story of human ingenuity and creativity from its beginnings to the present. Every student was touched by something they saw (including the building itself!), and the visit will resonate with them for a long time to come. The rain did nothing to dampen spirits later as we all headed off to Shakespeare’s Globe to watch ‘Adolphus Tips/964’. This was a must-see, feast for the eyes and ears show for all ages, that has to be one of the best productions the students will ever see!!! The Globe was the perfect venue to tell this poignant, unknown story about a tragedy that occurred just before the D-Day landings. The production was a relentless riot of humour and pathos, music and dance that touched hearts, souls and funny bones.