We have begun work in the Solukhumbu to address the severe needs of classrooms that were damaged and destroyed by the twin earthquakes of 2015. We're quickly approaching the one-year anniversary of the first quake (on April 25 and the second on May 10). This has led us to reflecting back on what has happened and how much more there is to go.
After the quake, we immediately went into response mode supporting our local partners to do what they can. In the short term we also invested in 14 temporary classrooms on the ground. This kind of initial response was important because it kept so many children in school rather than abandoning their education on the spot, never to return. Today we are working to rebuild 14 permanent classrooms as well. We're proud to announce that 6 classrooms are underway. We'll be visiting these sites to survey the progress and the challenges inherent in building in very rural and inaccessible locations. For instance there are no roads so all supplies come in via trails and are hand-carried in.
But what else? One of the things that we've been reflecting on is that our projects are in severe need of including water and sanitation solutions in ADDITION to the classrooms. For instance at the Ramailo Jyoti school the sanitation block (one boys and one girls) was entirely destroyed. You can see in the picture below that the damage is complete. They have one temporary toilet for all 180 students.
Our work this year is now to round out our perspective on the "School System" to include water and sanitation as necessary components of EVERY school to ensure that hygiene, water supply, and toilets are not new reasons that children don't attend school. We are working in April 2016 to plan out how to install new toilets, handwashing stations and where necessary new or upgraded water supplies so these schools can become closer to fully functional.
We're looking forward to sharing this principle of "learn" with all our partners, collaborators, staff, donors, and communities where we're looking. For more on our principles of how Edge of Seven works you can see them here: http://www.edgeofseven.org/our-approach-2/our-model/
Thank you for all your support and generosity. Namaste --
We're excited to announce that we have begun work in the top three schools (in terms of priority need) in the Solukhumbu. Our on the ground partners, the communities and government are all supporting the efforts and helping us mobilize community labor donations, hire labor and begin the process after the delays caused by the fuel blockades of the latter part of 2015. This winter we've begun the clearing of rubble, preparing the ground, improving the terracing and walls and even begun digging for the foundations for these three schools. We expect to have 3 buildings (2 classrooms each) completed by mid-June.
On the ground staff are preparing to use the first government approved designs that now include additionally reinforced methods of construction so that they are more reinforced against earthquake damage. Previously the local entities would approve the designs, but now the national government is approving the designs. Our earth-bag building techniques are still under review (we expect to have approval for these within six months) but for now we are building with reinforced traditional stone techniques.
The first communities in which we're working (Salleri, Mukli and Basa) are in great need because of the number of school classrooms that were damaged. All these classrooms out of commission can lead to greater challenges for students to go to school, and can even increase student's travel times to school in these rural villages when they have to go to another school because their school doesn't have enough classrooms to hold them. Some students walk a total of 3 hours each day to go to school. All these barriers to education more greatly affect girls because of their (often) lower priority with the family or community to receive an education.
We are excited to get this work underway not only for the communities involved but also for the four communities that are coming up next. We may be able to begin the work on the next four schools late this spring, but if not they will be begun and completed after the monsoons end in mid-September.
Thank you to all of you who are supporting us in this and all our endeavors to support and create greater access for girls' education in Nepal.
At the start of 2016 our rebuilding efforts are in a delicate place. We have secured significant funding in 2015 which we are pushing into the country in 2016 to rebuild seven school buildings (2 classrooms each). This work is slated to begin in February 2016. We are excited and so thankful for all the support of foundations, businesses and individuals to make this 7 building effort happen.
Our current challenge is the fuel blockade of Nepal which is preventing fuel (cooking, vehicle and other) to reach the communities where it is needed. Many affects are happening to the country which is so damaged from last year's earthquakes. Transportation of building supplies is limited. Travel is limited. Cooking is a challenge and prices of construction materials are up and rising.
See these sites for more blockade info:
So at this time we are having to hold on our rebuilding until a political solution can be accomplished. In the meantime, we are planning to implement with higher costs come February and need additional support to make up for the increasing costs to rebuild these schools. Please consider giving to our campaign to help support our work in 2016. Thank you for your generosity and if you can in some way support the Nepalese government in ending this blockade that would be a help as well. Please see our main program page for any future updates: http://www.edgeofseven.org/7plus7/
Peter Mason, Executive DirectorEdge of Seven (www.edgeofseven.org)