Project #2415

Improve education for Nepali girls and minorities

by The Santi School Project
49 kids received new bags and water bottles
49 kids received new bags and water bottles

One of the of the effects of the devastating earthquake in Nepal in April 2015 that is often overlooked is the scarcity of clean drinking water in many villages.

Because of contaminated water sources, there is a high risk and increase of health and hygiene issues.

To promote safe drinking water, Santi School distributed school bags and  drinking water bottles last month to 49 needy students at Ghusel Secondary School in Lalitpur district, which was hard-hit by the quake.

Many of the students are members of the Tamang ethnic minority group. They walk as many as three hours each way to school every day, and the new water bottles ensure that they will have access to clean drinking water during their travels back and forth.

Instead of potentially getting sick with water-borne illnesses, these children will be able to concentrate on their studies.

The water bottles were presented during a ceremony conducted by the principal, school management committee, teachers and parents of the students. The students who received the water bottles were selected by the school management committee and the administrative committee from grades two, four, five, six and seven.

The students were delighted to have the bag and water bottle. They expressed their hearty gratitude for the support. We also want to thank our donors for helping to make initiatives like this possible. They really make a difference in the lives of our students.

Many children walk 3 hours each way to school
Many children walk 3 hours each way to school
New furniture at Shringery School near Kathmandu.
New furniture at Shringery School near Kathmandu.

It’s hard to believe that a year has passed since a devastating earthquake rocked Nepal. Recovery has been painfully slow, but gradually schools are moving their students into new classrooms. The Santi School Project is proud to help make that possible.

We are helping to rebuild schools and provide new furniture for students and teachers at 12 schools. Earlier this month we delivered new chairs and desks to two of those schools.

The furniture for both schools has been specifically designed for younger students in kindergarten and grades 1-3. We take this for granted in the West, but it’s unusual in Nepal for desks and tables to be made at a size appropriate for younger children.

The first school is Durga Higher Secondary School of Maga Pauwa, in Dolakha district, about 70 miles away from Kathmandu. Established in 1962, it has 20 teachers and staff and more than 500 students from kindergarten to grade 12. We provided furniture for four classrooms.

As a matter of fact, our furniture arrived before the renovations are complete. Once the classrooms are finished we’ll have photos to show of the new furnishings set up for the students.

The other school to receive new furniture is Shringery Community Secondary School in Mahalaxmi municipality of Lalitpur district. Established in 1995, it is about 15 km away from Kathmandu and has 18 teachers and staff for 215 students from kindergarten to grade ten.

Recently, we built four classrooms at Shringery, and have conducted teacher training programs there in the past.

Thank you for your support to make these critical improvements in the lives of hundreds of children in Nepal. Without your help, our students in earthquake-ravaged areas would still be sitting outside at school every day, or trying to learn while cramped inside a canvas tent.

The furniture is made by hand.
The furniture is made by hand.
Delivering furniture at Durga School.
Delivering furniture at Durga School.
Students study in a hut made of bamboo and plastic
Students study in a hut made of bamboo and plastic

It’s wintertime in Nepal, and the harsh weather means life continues to be difficult for millions of Nepalis in rural areas living in temporary shelters made of bamboo and plastic.

More than nine months have passed since the devastating earthquake last spring, and many rural communities are still working to rebuild homes and schools. The government and large international charities have been slow to start up reconstruction work. A nationwide fuel crisis, precipitated by an “unofficial blockade” by India for nearly four months, has only exacerbated the problems.

Despite all this, we are proud to announce that we’re making strong progress renovating two classrooms at Shree Devi Lower Secondary School, in the Nallu village development committee of Lalitpur district. The school has 138 students, from kindergarten through grade eight.

Students there -- like so many children in areas where the earthquakes destroyed or damaged school buildings -- have been studying in a temporary learning center made of bamboo with a roof of plastic sheets, which does not do an adequate job of protecting them from the elements. Thankfully, we expect they will move inside their new classrooms very soon.

Engineers along with the vice district education officer for Lalitpur conducted a monitoring visit at the school in mid January and approved of the construction work. The vice principal of the school has been particularly helpful in overseeing the renovations.

This is one of 14 different schools that we plan to provide earthquake renovations this year. We expect that many of these projects will break ground in the next month or so.

Thank you for your support to help make these projects possible.

Engineers supervise reconstruction work.
Engineers supervise reconstruction work.
Our chairman briefs local officials on the work.
Our chairman briefs local officials on the work.
Reading a book about earthquakes.
Reading a book about earthquakes.

On the morning of September 15, our staff members set out for the northeastern part of Kathmandu district, around 35 kilometers (22 miles) away from the city center. It was one of the areas of  Kathmandu district that suffered the most earthquake damage last spring.

The scenery of the countryside as we crossed Sankhu, an ancient Newari town, was mesmerizing. The journey was mostly smooth as the road was blacktopped. At two places, the road was not in a very good condition due to the monsoon rains. Once, we had to get off the jeep and push it – a ritual that our staff are too familiar with these days.

That day was Children’s Day in Nepal and all the kids were busy getting involved in one of the extra-curricular activities that were being organized at Bal Jyoti Lower Secondary School, which runs classes from nursery to grade eight. One student came inside the office and picked up a book we had brought about earthquakes. He seemed to enjoy reading it.  Like many children, he still has many questions on his mind about earthquakes.

We inspected the damaged school building at Bal Jyoti and the teachers briefed our team about how the school and the community coped in the aftermath of the earthquakes. We also discussed various components of our reconstruction work. We also visited two other schools that day that had been damaged by the earthquakes. 

A few days later, we were able to sign an agreement with the Department of Education, the government agency that is responsible for coordinating school reconstruction after the earthquakes, to repair nine schools. We are preparing to sign a second agreement for six additional schools, for a total of 15.

We are also in the process of getting the designs for the construction approved by the engineering section of the Department of Education. After this step, we will sign individual agreements with each of the 15 beneficiary schools and  coordinate with other government agencies to get their approvals. We hope that actual construction work will begin in November.

Reconstruction work will begin in November
Reconstruction work will begin in November
Fortunately, this schoolyard is still intact.
Fortunately, this schoolyard is still intact.
Despite hardship, children are still smiling
Despite hardship, children are still smiling

Recently, we’ve been visiting many of our partner schools to assess the damage caused by the earthquakes in April.

Our first activity after the quake was an art and craft program for displaced children at a temporary learning center in Kathmandu. Then we hit the road to see the damage thousands of schools have suffered. Our U.S. board member, Beth Norford, joined us, and we hired a Jeep and embarked on our journey.

Driving on the bumpy dirt roads in Nepal’s mountains is quite a challenge. A local vehicle broke down on a steep slope along the way, making the road impassable. Our team abandoned the Jeep and walked for about an hour to reach our first destination among three scheduled for that day.

As we walked, we kept our spirits up by admiring the beauty that you are sure to find when you hike any trails in Nepal’s mountains. Along the way, we found some outstandingly generous people, who despite all the loss they have suffered still offered us some cucumbers to stave off the afternoon heat.

Once we reached the first school, we were greeted by the playful children who were adjusting to life with classrooms that have been partially destroyed. But there were plenty of smiles on their faces and that helped us forget the hardship of our hike.

Afterward, we hiked back to our Jeep and discovered that the other vehicle had been fixed, clearing the road. We were back on our way: there were still two other schools to visit before returning to Kathmandu. It was a long day, but the trip gave us invaluable insights about the situation on the ground.

One of the schools we visited was Guru Lower Secondary School of Bukhel Village Development Committee of Lalitpur district.The two-room classroom building that we helped build at Guru in 2013 is the only building still standing in the village, which had about 50 homes. Government inspectors judged this building to be safe to conduct classes, and the school is currently using it. However, the other six classrooms were deemed unsafe and have been demolished.

Here’s a few of the schools in Lalitpur district that we have worked with in the past, have visited recently and plan to help by rebuilding classrooms damaged by the earthquake:

Guru Lower Secondary School, which has 160 students up to grade eight. We plan to complete construction of the first floor of a building with three classrooms.

Baleshwori Higher Secondary School, which has 250 students up to grade 12. The school has asked us to renovate one damaged building, rebuild toilets and install a water distribution system for those toilets.

Kali Devi Higher Secondary School, which has an enrollment of more than 350 students studying from nursery to grade 12. We intend to help the school renovate one building, provide furniture for grade one and two classes and provide mats for the nursery.

At all three schools we also plan to provide books to start classroom libraries for kids at lower grades, to make books accessible to the students and promote a culture of reading.

In addition, we have announced plans to work with two other schools, in Dolakha district:

One project will rebuild eight classrooms for Kshamawati Higher Secondary School in Suspa Kshamawati VDC. It is the oldest government-registered school in Dolakha district, with 450 students from nursery to grade 12. The majority of the students are members of the disadvantaged Thami ethnic minority

The other project is Durga Higher Secondary School in a community called Maga Pauwa VDC. The school was established in 1962 and has more than 500 students studying from nursery to grade 12. Our focus is on the primary level, with about 150 students from nursery to grade 5 benefitting from the carpeting, cushions and classroom furniture as well as early childhood education training for teachers.

If damage is limited, classrooms are still used
If damage is limited, classrooms are still used
Tents are a common sight on school grounds
Tents are a common sight on school grounds
Our team in Nepal
Our team in Nepal
Private homes in villages have collapsed
Private homes in villages have collapsed

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Organization Information

The Santi School Project

Location: Ellicott City, MD - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Christopher Heun
Halethorpe, MD United States

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