96 classrooms built in Nepal by Disaster Relief volunteers
Projects Abroad launched a Disaster Relief Project in Nepal in June 2015, following the devastating earthquakes that hit the country in April and May of that year. In just 20 months after the project started, volunteers from around the world reached the goals set out by Projects Abroad: to rebuild classrooms for children affected by the earthquakes. Volunteers built 96 classrooms at nine schools in Nepal, and more than 2000 children are able to go back to school because of these efforts.
Mr. Surendra Maharjan, the principal of Sunrise School, one of the schools damaged by the earthquakes, described the reaction of his students on seeing the progress at their school, “I can see how happy they were from their faces. [I was] extremely happy and [we can] resume the class room in the safe place,” he said. “Even if another earthquake hits the community, people can stay there.”
The severe earthquake that struck Nepal on 25 April 2015 and the aftershocks in the following days and weeks caused significant damage to schools, businesses, roads and other infrastructure across the country. After the disaster, Mr. Surendra and his teachers were unable to hold lessons for the students because of the damage. “There were many cracks in the wall and it was unsafe building to run a class room. Two children were injured,” he said. “School was closed for four weeks and they had to run the classes under the tarp in hot summer, [with a] water shortage [and] no toilets.”
The first wave of Projects Abroad volunteers hit the ground running in June 2015 and joined a team of engineers, architects and local staff to begin the rebuilding. “I worked for a month building a school for the locals in Lalitpur, Kathmandu. The work consisted of digging foundation trenches for the school, mixing and laying cement and concrete, and then laying the bricks,” said volunteer Takudzwa Chipamaunga.
To ensure that lessons for pupils continued without further disruption, all labour done by volunteers was manual. “We could not bring heavy equipment [onto the sites] as the noise would disrupt the classes,” said Nepal’s Head Office Coordinator, Georgiana Poparad. “Volunteers did everything: digging the foundations, brick laying, plastering, painting, ground levelling and the mixing of cement and concrete.”
Since the project launched, more than 500 Projects Abroad volunteers from Europe, North America, Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Asia joined the rebuilding efforts in Nepal. With the immediate needs of the community met and the goals of the Disaster Relief Project reached, the project has now been closed. A Building Project has been now been opened in Nepal to continue the work that was started in June 2015. The project will address the ongoing need for classrooms and schools in the country, which still faces challenges rebuilding after the earthquakes.
“Without the assistance of Projects Abroad volunteers and staff, it will be years – possibly even decades – before all schools affected by the earthquake are rebuilt,” says Poparad. “Projects Abroad has worked in Nepal for years, and our projects have always addressed the needs of local communities and implemented vital support structures. Our new project will do the same and we will continue to support the people of Nepal in any way we can.”
For Mr. Surendra and the 205 children at Sunrise School, lessons can finally continue under the strong and safe infrastructure built by volunteers and locals. “I felt so grateful to all Projects Abroad volunteers for helping out our school during such a difficult time. I also don’t have a word to thank them. I have seen them working so hard in the heat and rain to complete the school. I will always be grateful for all the volunteers of Projects Abroad,” he said.