Nepal Appeals third school and a visit to Mr Bahadur’s home, now 102!

With the first two schools built and time spent researching how we can next support these rural schools, there was also time to visit our third school site.  Having been identified by The Mandala Organisation, our local colleagues on the ground supporting our projects, we had time on the last day to be shown another school who needed support to rebuild its classrooms having lost their school as a result of the earthquake. They said it was a 45 minute jeep ride further into the district, so in we loaded to go and meet the school staff and see what we could do to help.

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Jalberi school high above the Belephi River

What I was not expecting was to find out exactly which school it was, and that I had been there before. 25 years ago as a young kayaker exploring Himalayan rivers, I had ended up hitching a ride in the back of a local truck (full of fish!) up this track following the Belephi river to a place called Jalbiri. With nowhere to stay I was welcomed into the home of a young Gurkha soldier and his wife for the evening and a bed, before kayaking the river back down to the nearest road the following day. Who would of thought that I would now be back here to help the community to rebuild there school – maybe luck, maybe fate!

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This home put me up many years ago, and now we’re back to rebuild their school!

When we got to the site it was obvious that some rebuilding had taken place. We found that the local community had started to rebuild a few classrooms through their own support, however these had not been completed as funds had been depleted. It was also evident where the old building once stood and even parts of the roof were in tact and reusable, however some of the school had slide down the steep sided bank into the river over 75 ft below.

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Whats left of the school at Jalberi

After time with the teachers and community leaders we agreed that the school would get the support of the Nepal Appeal to help rebuild the classrooms, and this would be the third school we were looking for in this district, (the area worst affected by the earthquake) to offer our long term support to.

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Nepal Appeal, Mandala Organisation, teachers and community leaders.

Later today I will be meeting with members of our partnered non -government organisation, ‘The Mandala Team’, to discuss the cost of the work and how we start the project. Its these guys on the ground that ensure the funds raised by you go direct to the projects and people that need it, and they are doing an amazing job.

I can’t leave the area without a quick visit to our first project, the home of Mr Bahadur and his wife. He is now 102 years old and within 2 weeks of the earthquake we had rebuilt his home, and for me he really became a symbol of why we started the Charity.

I took all of the team with me to see his home and meet him, and it was great to see him still smiling and pleased to see us. When we got there his wife of 93 had walked the mile up the road to buy vegetables from a local road side store, so we sat as he told us he had a small leak in the roof when the rain drives in a certain direction (which we will fix) and very sadly that he had been robbed of his pots, pans and plates and left with minimal cooking utensils.

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An inspiration – 102 years old

Of course this was a quick fix – a drive up the road to the nearest small settlement, purchase some plates, pots and pans, surprise Mrs Bahadur with a lift home and then watch them open the bag as if it was Christmas. Simple things mean a lot in Nepal, and I’m glad we called in.

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One happy lady!

So with the two schools open for the community, the third under planning and a lot of information gathered to help us continue the support and education of all three schools into the future – our time came to an end.

In 2 weeks time it will be a year since the devastation hit this region. With over 66,000 total homes in the district and under 400 that were unaffected by the earthquake, it is amazing to witness the resilience of the people that live there who are now going on with their day to day lives and rebuilding what they can, with the amazing warmth and friendliness that I think makes Nepal such a special place. What is equally amazing is the support and fund raising that has been done by many of you, that has made all we are doing possible.

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Thank you so much for the amazing support

I came out one week after the earthquake to support my Nepalese friends and their families in an area I have spent over half my lifetime visiting and spending so many happy years in. The Charity was set up to maybe help in a small way one of these communities, in no way did I anticipate the scale of the support you have given and in course the number of people you have helped.

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You have helped to rebuild homes and schools

For those of us here it was emotional to witness how very much this means to the people who have benefitted, and will continue to benefit from the Nepal Appeal Charity, for years to come.

A big thanks to our friends of the Mandala Organisation for all of the assistance and hospitality –  Mahendra, Shanta and Milan – amazing work out here.

For the remainder of the trip its time for me to show the team that came out with me why Nepal is one of the best adventure destinations in the world as we go off to complete a 5 day trek in the Annapurna Region, and a 3 day raft trip down the Kali Gandaki. A way to show people that Nepal is ‘open for business’ as usual and that they desperately need people back to help rebuild one of their largest means of income across the country, Tourism. That will be tomorrows blog!

Nameste,

Ant

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