“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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.