Joining Together to Rebuild Nepal

by Edge of Seven
Joining Together to Rebuild Nepal
Joining Together to Rebuild Nepal
Joining Together to Rebuild Nepal
Joining Together to Rebuild Nepal
Joining Together to Rebuild Nepal
Joining Together to Rebuild Nepal
Joining Together to Rebuild Nepal
Joining Together to Rebuild Nepal
Joining Together to Rebuild Nepal
Joining Together to Rebuild Nepal

Eighteen months after the 2nd of two earthquakes in Nepal the challenges keep coming. You may be feeling a bit scattered or full of trepidation after the recent election in the US if you're one of our American donors. There is a bit of a sense of an earthquake (metaphorically) as things have been truly shaken up and we're not sure what will happen next.

But in Nepal where we're working on very fundamental issues of justice, education, women's rights and girls' education we can tell you that progress isn't lightning quick. We make a little bit of progress each day, month, quarter and year. This past year we worked hard to finish the schools that had the highest priority and we're now looking at the next set of schools to get girls back into the classroom and learning.

It isn't a big, exciting, dramatic piece of work. We build wall by wall and a person by person to build their capacity to take on whatever their next challenge is in the rural, remote villages where we work. We work in the Solukhumbu of Nepal east of Kathmandu and south of Mt. Everest.

We have identified a list of approximately 35 buildings in this area (all school buildings at this point) that need to be rebuilt or scraped and built over -- this time using the government approved, earthquake-resistent model that we're using now. Yes, it's more expensive than previous models, but it is government approved and is highly resistent to the tremors that may be felt over the lifespan of the building.

This fall we're putting the final touches on the buildings completed over the last year. We're including electrical wiring, furnishings and the small touches that help to create a sense of pride and ownership in these community owned buildings. And think about how these buildings build community as well. We work with local partners to lead and train the community where we work. Each community has a new School Building Committee led by villagers who are ready to take the next steps in leadership, ownership, commitment, and long-term focus.

Because we care so much about replicating each locally controlled and locally led School Building Committee we're working very hard right now to  complete our End of Year Campaign. The campaign has a number of parts and we'd love for you to join us. Here are some of the things that you can check out and support girls' education by doing -- and know that we're using Global Giving as our platform for the giving because it gives you and us the confidence that donations are being managed well.

So check out these great opportunities:

  • GIVING TUESDAY -- on November 29, please make a donation through Global Giving onto this project (https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/eof7communitydevelopment/). No fees this day and we can access $500K in matches just for making a donation this day (matches for each donation 50%)
  • Colorado Gives Day -- on December 6, please make a donation through our website to help us access multiple matches in their special fund of $1M. www.edgeofseven.org
  • Throughout December -- throughout the month of December we're sending all our donors to Global Giving to help us fund the next set of schools we're building in Nepal. And as a special bonus if you set up a new recurring donation Global Giving will match the first donation 100% -- yes double that first recurring gift! https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/eof7communitydevelopment/
  • Educate a Girl -- special Documentary Screening of "Educate a Girl" on December 13, 2016 at the Posner Center for International Devleopment in Denver. We're going to have a special holiday gathering of supporters and staff and preview this great documentary. See https://eagscreening.eventbrite.com for info and tickets.

We're so excited for you to join us and support girls' education in whatever way you can. Even small donations of $10 are greatly appreciated since several of the matching and bonus programs that benefit us are based on whether we can get only 30 new donations! Any amount helps --

So while it may seem as if there was a disturbance in the political equilibrium in the US, there is still a great deal of work to do where the real earthquakes have occured in Nepal. This also gives you a great way to make some positive change for some very real people who need our help. Please let me know if you have any questions or suggestions about our work in Nepal or in East Africa.

The long walk to school
The long walk to school

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Girls at Ramailo Jyoti - Temp Learning Center
Girls at Ramailo Jyoti - Temp Learning Center

Mid-June to Mid-September is the monsoon in Nepal. This year the prediction was for a "normal monsoon" (https://thehimalayantimes.com/kathmandu/nepal-likely-receive-normal-monsoon-rain/), but even with that there was flooding and casualties (http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/07/nepal-hit-flash-floods-landslides-160728090756268.html). As hard to read as it is, this is the normal for a nation with "least-developed country" status.

Our building and work programs over the summer monsoon months pauses for safety, but also because of logistics. Because we work in rural areas of Nepal where few roads exist and even those that are present are often washed out or impassable with water and mud, our work pauses. Getting materials out to the locations is near impossible. We are relying on the Temporary Learning Centers built in 2015 to hold out through another monsoon season. We are also relying on having the spring/early summer progress on our projects having gotten far enough that students can use those buildings through the summer season. Come September we'll be back at the work through our on-the-ground partners The Small World (a community-based organization) working with the community to raise buildings while also raising the capacity of each village to take on their own projects. The ultimate in win-win.

So the pause in our work allowed us to take a moment to write about the question of "Why Education?" We could have been working in economic development, health, HIV/AIDS, health clinics, trafficking, or any one of numerous areas inside of International Development. Why education? Here are some thoughts --

From the Edge of Seven blog: (http://www.edgeofseven.org/whyeducation/)
---

Why Education? Building learning and knowledge creates 2 not 1 outcome

In a recent article on Human Rights Watch, we saw this item:

"The benefits of education to both children and broader society could not be clearer. Education can break generational cycles of poverty by enabling children to gain the life skills and knowledge needed to cope with today’s challenges. Education is strongly linked to concrete improvements in health and nutrition, improving children’s very chances for survival. Education empowers children to be full and active participants in society, able to exercise their rights and engage in civil and political life. Education is also a powerful protection factor: children who are in school are less likely to come into conflict with the law and much less vulnerable to rampant forms of child exploitation, including child labor, trafficking, and recruitment into armed groups and forces.

196 member states have adopted legal obligations towards all children in their territories, and countries that ratify specific international and regional conventions are legally bound to protect the right to education and to follow detailed parameters as to how to do so."
(https://www.hrw.org/report/2016/06/10/education-deficit/failures-protect-and-fulfill-right-education-through-global  — June 15, 2016)

We’d encourage everyone to read this carefully crafted and educational piece. In light of this piece and others we thought we would tie this idea of education into all the other items that we have our webpages about “why we do what we do.” Education is at the very heart of it all. Why is it that we don’t only work in water and sanitation? Why not work building toilets? The short answer is that while those efforts are valiant and necessary, they do not come with built in “collective impact.”

Working in Education (in short) allows us all to create a larger and leveraged foundation from which communities can begin to launch themselves into solving their own problems in a variety of areas (water, power, economic development, food-water-energy nexus, women’s issues, politics, social and civil engagement, agriculture, environment, and the list goes on and on). Education builds up the communities themselves to take on their challenges.

It’s a sad fact in the development world that too often systems (water pump, toilet, etc.) breaks after the implementation and the community can’t fix it themselves. The implementation dies. That money was only good for X years or months. Then another FIX is needed with more money. And that cycle of dependency is not only continued. It is reinforced. That is the tragedy — the cycle being reinforced to continue and on and on.

So why Education?

Because education is another step closer to breaking the cycle of ongoing dependence and failing ‘interventions.’ Realize that having to have an “intervention” is entirely wrong to begin with. Communities around the world should and could be dealing with their own issues. In most developing worlds this is the role of government, civil/social organizations, non-profits and other groups who aggregate wealth, desire and ability to make change. Want/need a new school — make it happen.

Whereas in many developing countries some part of that system is broken. It isn’t always the wealth question along. Dropping money into situations ISN’T always the answer. It may be part of the issue. This is why donors trust nonprofits/NGO’s in many ways MORE than donating to governments to get things done in foreign countries. There is more than applying money to an “intervention.”

If however, we had a controlled small country where we could begin to apply the educational process to the people living there, where they were built up as a civil organization themselves, where they cared about AND could make their own change in education, social change, and fundamental development, THEN we could see change. We could see people who could begin to raise money, craft community solutions, execute on plans, and maintain, repair and replace their own solutions. International development agencies would be out of business.

And that’s fundamentally why we work in education and trying to make education work in rural parts of the world. We want to find the right mix of the model that makes us as an NGO obsolete. We want to be able to say — we’re no longer needed. Let’s close it up. If we can activate students, parents, community members around education and build their capacity to take on issues in their own community (not just the school house) we are breaking the dependency (not reinforcing it).

So education is important just as it is. Girls need school buildings so that they can learn. Yes. But that isn’t the only thing we’re doing and that isn’t the only objective we have. We are building TWO things at every implementation. We are 1. building a school building (or a water point or toilet or dormitory, whatever) and 2. we are building the community’s ability to take on change (in the future). That’s ‘why education?’ for us.

Ramailo Jyoti located near Salleri, Nepal
Ramailo Jyoti located near Salleri, Nepal

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The core team making this happen at RJ
The core team making this happen at RJ

I just returned from Nepal. It was incredible seeing the progress being made now that the designs for earthquake resistant buildings was approved by the government and the end of the fuel blockade allowed us to start work. We are so appreciative of all our supporters who have contributed to this project and all our work in Nepal.

In April and May of 2015 large earthquakes damaged the country of Nepal and its infrastructure. In the rural Solukhumbu where we work, the estimates were that over 1000 school classrooms were damaged and destroyed. It is a devastating effect to the schools in this poor, rural part of Nepal. In response last year, Edge of Seven committed to starting the rebuilding effort by supporting the building of seven Temporary Learning Centers (TLC) in the region. With your support last year we built seven temporary school buildings. This year (2016 — again with your support) we are escalating our work in response to the tragedy. We are building three 2-room school buildings in Spring 2016 and are planning on building four more 2-room buildings in Fall 2016.

In Spring 2016, with your support we are able to build at the locations below.

Salleri, Nepal (Ramailo Jyoti Lower Secondary School)

This school of K-5 (grades 6-8 can't go here right now because there aren't enough classrooms), has damaged classrooms, two classrooms that were rebuilt, the "coming soon" classes that Edge of Seven and The Small World are putting in. Currently the Temporary Learning Center roooms (4 of these) are still in use. The project here has the walls up and the roof soon to come. The completion is scheduled for mid-June hopefully prior to the coming monsoon rains. We're proud of how the School Committee, the Headmaster, the project coordinator and the paid and volunteer workers are being so diligent toward the quality of the construction. These new higher standards for earthquake resistance are pushing up the quality dramatically.

Barkhu, Nepal (Mukli Lower Secondary School)

The building in Barkhu has the foundation completed (3 feet deep) and the concrete footers and corner columns (5 feet deep) are getting poured while we are there. You can see where the previous classrooms stood by the paint on the side of the existing building (see picture below). That non-white area was the roof line for the classrooms that fell in during the earthquakes. We believe in community collaboration and the School Building Committee is led by a local chairmain who works with the Project Coordinator to lead the build. This work is done entirely by the community but with oversight from the PC and from a certified engineer.

Dipli, Nepal (Kalika Primary School)

The school in Dipli had a major amount of work to do to create a flat space for the new building. A gigantic retaining wall had to be built just so that there was space for the classrooms. This building only has the foundation completed as of May 5, 2016. It is scheduled to be completed by June 15 (or before the monsoons begin).

Impacts

We believe that our impacts are found in the effect that the educational value of our approach has. So rather than 700 students benefiting from the Temporary Learning Centers or 300 students benefitting from the new classroom buildings we believe our impacts come in the form of what those things mean to the girls and the community. For instance we believe that:

  • Creating educational chances for older teen girls gives hope, creates a higher value on education for their families, and provides a pathway out of poverty for those families,
  • Creating a higher value on education will trickle down into future generations of families in those communities, raising the likelihood that their families (and especially girls) will pursue more education and lift their communities out of poverty,
  • Creating permanent spaces for education after the earthquakes means that children stay in school, that teachers keep their jobs, that communities have hope that they can rebuild the rest of the buildings and that they don’t feel ignored as a rural community,
  • Creating positive change and development in these communities builds a sense of pride, ownership and empowerment that they can address these issues themselves and can lead to the elimination of a charity mentality when it comes to development
  • Creating more economic opportunities for the community to work (on the buildings) provides a much-needed economic input into these communities where subsistence farming is the norm.

We are very aware that the work we are doing is an uphill battle, but the focus on these impacts (as well as our outcomes – students served, buildings built, water supplies repaired, etc. – allows us to continue on with the hope and promise that we are doing a greater collective good than just what we see in the walls and roofs of a building project.

Finally, a special note. One challenge that we continually confront for our own organization as well as for our partners in Nepal is capacity. We work in partnership with the supporting organizations in Nepal as well as the communities themselves everywhere. The ability for a local Nepali NGO to account for finances, report, fundraise, and manage themselves is continually stressed. It mirrors our own challenges to ensure that small NGO’s have all the tools, skills, and especially the time to do all that is required to do this work. One small but very important contribution to us succeeding despite these challenges are people like you who are willing to support our organization as we grow and thrive. So thank you — from all our partners, sponsors, staff, volunteers and board members we couldn’t have done this without your help.

To read more updates as we get them in come to our blog: http://www.edgeofseven.org/blog/

-- Sincerely, Peter Mason

The work @ Mukli Lower w/ the foundation & footer
The work @ Mukli Lower w/ the foundation & footer
Kalika Primary has the foundation in
Kalika Primary has the foundation in
Edge of Seven Spring 2016 project sites
Edge of Seven Spring 2016 project sites
Significant work completed on rock retaining walls
Significant work completed on rock retaining walls

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The Ramailo Jyoti school (Salleri) community
The Ramailo Jyoti school (Salleri) community

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.

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Ramailo Jyoti school in Salleri, Nepal
Ramailo Jyoti school in Salleri, Nepal

In April and May of 2015 earthquakes struck Nepal destroying 1074 classrooms in the Solukhumbu region of Nepal. Edge of Seven responded with aid but also with a plan to begin the rebuild quickly. Call this part of the Project "7Plus7" Eo7 completed 7 Temporary Learning Centers through the monsoon season so that kids could start to get back to classes. That first "7" may have been the easy part but it was a critical part of keeping kids in classes, keeping teachers teaching in these remote villages, and perhaps most importantly giving hope that help was coming for the people who have lost so much.

The next part was to truly assess how much damage had happened, how and where to begin the rebuild process, secure funds and get approval from the government on the plans and budgets for replacing all the classrooms lost. We went to Nepal in October to assess the schools that we had targeted and where we had built Temporary Learning Centers. We have the first 7 schools listed out here (www.edgeofseven.org/7plus7) and we plan on initially building two classrooms at each of the "7" schools. However at all of these 7 schools, there are more than 2 classrooms damaged or destroyed. They are unsafe for kids, but even still, they are having to use the classrooms that are still standing.

So we have begun work at the top two priority schools to begin the process of building classrooms to get them back to where they were prior to the earthquakes.

We have begun work with the community clearing rubble and preparing the foundations and space for Shree Muklui and Ramailo Jyoti -- two schools with the most need. We will have pictures soon we hope, but please also see the images from the October trip to these two locations and many more. Our work will continue at all these 7 schools until they are whole again, including the toilets, water supplies, and wash stations that each school needs to function at a basic level.

Please keep up to date on our 7plus7 page here: www.edgeofseven.org/7plus7

Headmaster in the rubble
Headmaster in the rubble

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Organization Information

Edge of Seven

Location: Evergreen, CO - USA
Website:
Edge of Seven
Peter Mason
Project Leader:
Peter Mason
Denver, CO United States

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