New Partnership in Jaleswori.

“I am now a moon behind the hills and I have lived a full life. But for my grandchildren and the village children, life has just begun. They will be here for a long time and they need a school. Therefore, I very happily am donating my land to this school”

-Aasmaya Rai, Jaleswori-3

Aasmaya Rai, from the settlement of Diblibaya in the village of Jaleswori, donated a prime piece of land to the Janakalyan Primary School earlier this year. This fertile land was part of her “jiuni”- a tradition in Nepal where elderly people keep some land that functions as a retirement fund or nest egg.

The original Janakalyan Primary School was badly damaged in the earthquakes of April, 2015. The damage was so extensive that the land the school was on was deemed unsafe for building due to giant fissures and risk of landslides. The community needed to relocate the entire school, and Aasmaya rose to the occasion.

The local government pressured the community to merge this small school with the local high school – over an hour’s walk away. The community worried about the young children (most of whom are under the age of ten) being forced to walk such a long distance each day. Aasmaya’s land was in the perfect location, and with her help, Aasmaya and others in the village convinced the local government to keep it in the community.

The community members then constructed a temporary structure out of bamboo on the land to keep classes running.

Students of Janakalyan studying in the temporary structure made out of bamboo.

In August of 2016, we started a trial partnership in the community of Jaleswori as part of our deep development plan through a series of low cost starter projects. There are 11 different settlements like Diblibaya in Jaleswori and each settlement chose their own priority projects which was fully implemented by local community groups called “Community Development Groups (CDG). The people from Diblibaya chose to expand the playground for the school as part of their starter project. All the households of this ward donated five days of free labor for this project – totaling 184 days of volunteer labor. Our support totaled approximately $580, while the local contribution was valued at $1,125!!

A community member carrying stones for the school playground expansion.
A community member works on a stone wall to expand the school playground.

 

All of the projects across the entire village were very successful and showed similar levels of local initiative. All in all, the community members from these 11 settlements contributed 1239 days (equivalent to USD 7802) of voluntary labor to the various starter projects compared to the USD 5670 we had supported again making it true for here that the biggest single donor group of dZi is the community themselves.  In December of this past year, we formally partnered with Jaleswori – committing to work together on a wide range of community projects for the next eight to ten years.

Our first step when we partner with a new community is to draft a ‘community contract’ where both dZi and community members spell out our needs and expectations over the long term.

Community Meeting in Jaleswori where we entered into a mutual “community contract.”

One of the most important understandings in this community contract was that “the demand and need of the most disadvantaged community will be addressed with the highest priority” and “the projects that yield benefit to community will be given priority over projects that give personal benefit.”

In this spirit, the entire village decided that the rebuilding of the Janakalyan Primary School – on Aasmaya’s donated land – was the very  highest priority. In late spring, we broke ground on the new earthquake-safe school.

The school building is all set to be completed within the middle of August. The local contribution and community participation in this project has been as overwhelming as the starter projects. Despite the project’s late start, it has taken the community only six months to finish all the work.Alongside the school buildings, we are also constructing a small drinking water system within the school area and a toilet. This will prevent the children from straying too far in search of water and will maintain the hygiene of the school environment and the students.

 

Structure for the water storage tank and toilet.

The classrooms were almost finished when we took this photo in July last week.

It has been an inspiring journey for us since we first stepped into Jaleswori. Thank you to people like Aasmaya who have shown us that local communities are the true heroes of community development. We look forward to many more years of such an inspiring and fruitful partnership with Jaleswori. Meanwhile, stay tuned to our social media pages to follow the progress of the Janakalyan School.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Making safe study space for children

“Now that we have these strong temporary learning centers, we teachers can also teach students without fear. Students will not be scared anymore, and neither will the parents hesitate to send kids to school. So we all are very happy”.

– Ram Bahadur Basnet, Principal of Narkel Primary School in Sotang

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Father and daughter take a look inside the TLC in Rakha

We work in 7 of the most remote communities in East Nepal – some of which takes up to three days on foot to reach from the nearest air strip or dirt roads. Life is already hard here, which was made much harder after the strong earthquakes of April 25 and May 12. Around 70% homes have been damaged, agricultural lands have deep fissures, and some of the most important public infrastructure like schools and drinking waters have been severely affected. In these 7 communities alone, 36 out of 45 schools have been damaged by the quake.

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The collapsed building of Yuba Jyoti Primary School in Dipsung.

We worked with our local NGO partners to deliver much needed tarpaulins in the first phase of quake so that people could have at least a temporary shelter to protect themselves. Then we moved swiftly to address the second most pressing problem of the community here – building Temporary Learning Center (TLC) for schools damaged by the earthquake so that children could get back to school as soon as possible. We have extended these emergency supports to another two neighboring communities – Bung and Jaleswori.

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Mule train dispatching the tarpaulins

Our Civil Technician Raj Kumar Rai visited every school in the 9 communities since the May 12 earthquake to assess their safety status so that we know if building a TLC was necessary or not. During the initial phase, the TLC number was for around 35 schools but as Rajkumar spent more time and reached schools in the farthest corner of these communities the total number is now 40.

Building a TLC for a primary school with classes from 1 to 5 takes about a week for about half a dozen people. The first construction training was given by Rajkumar to 30 community members from different areas who then went back to their villages and started collecting materials required for building. The TLC design follows the Government guideline closely, only difference being use of roofing tins for walls. After the monsoon is over, these tins are going to be in short supply as reconstruction of personal homes as well as public infrastructure will start in earnest. Stocking these tins as part of the TLC structure will ensure that once we start Permanent School building construction, these tins can be utilized. That is why Rajkumar was extra sure to come up with a design that involved only tying up these tins with small steel wires and not actually drill nail sized holes in them.

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Putting up the finishing touches

Completing TLC in 40 schools that were spread out in geographically impossible terrain was no easy work. Our field staffs, community members and NGO partners worked day and night in every kind of weather to ensure that they were completed on time.

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Mani Kumar Rai- a community member from Khotang who was supervising TLC construction is jumping from stone to stone to cross this stream to reach yet one of the schools. A temporary bamboo bridge was there but it has already been washed away by the river. He has his slippers on one hand.
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Local community members working in a foggy, cold and rainy weather

We have now constructed 40 TLCs with 127 classrooms that will ensure safe and comfortable environment for 2608 students from 9 Village Development Committee in 40 villages. In many of these schools, classes are already running in the TLC where as in some, classes will resume from the second week of August after the summer holidays.

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Classes being run in Jana Jagriti School, Sotang
4. Happy Parrents,Teacher and Students. Jana jagriti S
Parents, teachers and students post outside the school.

We would like to thank our friends and organizations from around the globe who helped us in making relief and the subsequent intermediate recovery possible.

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We have fun while we learn

Learning games in a participatory environment is one of the key methods that we focus on during any of our training.

Here, community members in Khotang are participating in a fun learning exercise during a training for post-construction management of Drinking Water Projects. This was a 3 day residential training that the dZi Foundation organized in the district headquarters of Diktel.

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Participants of Group Management Training learning the importance of working in groups through a fun participatory game. Our Monitoring and Evaluation Assistant Bhalakaji in the center facilitates the process.

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Ben Ayers, our Nepal Country Director, is facilitating a learning game exercise during a Prosperity Mapping session in Cheskam of Solukhumbu. Supporting him is Bhalakaji.

Prosperity mapping is a tool to measure the impact of our “deep development” approach. We are excited to be evaluating our work through this tool-which is a combination of our learning in rural development and the community’s perception of what “prosperity” means to them.

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