Shree Manakamana Basic School (before and after)
Greetings friends and supporters of our Nepal Relief Program,
This past March, we celebrated the completion of our Makwanpur Program and the Shree Manakamana Basic School. The team completed an impressive scope of work, making sure the school could comfortably and safely accommodate the 140 students that attend it. We also continued to provide Female Mason Training on both programs operating this season. To date, 25 women have successfully completed this capacity building training course, during which they learn about disaster resilient building techniques that they can share with their larger communities.
This spring, we had planned to complete three brand new schools prior to monsoon season (which typically starts in mid-June). Today, I have an update regarding the way COVID-19 has affected our operations around the world, and what this means for our team in Nepal. Our top priority is and will continue to be the health, safety, and well-being of our staff, volunteers and the communities we serve. For this reason, effective March 12th, All Hands and Hearts temporarily suspended all operations, withdrawing over 400 staff and volunteers from seven program locations in the US and around the world in 72 hours. After careful consideration, our leadership team has now determined that it is unlikely we will be able to restart our volunteer-driven operations before September 2020. However, our commitments to beneficiary communities remain resolute. As of September 1, we expect to begin reopening programs on a case-by-case basis, based on local government guidelines and the advice of medical experts.
We know that the poor and vulnerable populations we serve are already feeling a disproportionate impact from COVID-19. Stay-at-home orders, closed schools, layoffs, and medical shortages land differently on those sheltering in a damaged home, in a community without internet or one without a clinic, or for those already struggling to afford basic necessities. Our goal now is to sustain our model and prepare to meet the challenges that COVID is already injecting into the disaster recovery landscape, so we can serve our mission over the long haul.
We are incredibly eager to return to the field and continue the important work we started in Nepal. There is a critical need to make our schools safe so children can relocate from temporary classrooms into the main buildings and have appropriate shelter. We are monitoring local restrictions to determine if, and when, local staff can return to the Thakureshor and Janakalyan schools to complete construction and finalize the buildings. If staff can’t continue this work by May 15, the sites will stay closed until the monsoon season recedes in October.
Thank you for following our progress, and for your ongoing support! We look forward to updating you again soon.
One of our mason trainees