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.