Imagine this, a cool, overcast, rainy day in rural Nepal. The lush greenery of the surrounding mountains and valleys is on the horizon, and there is an excited buzz in the village. On this day, Tuesday 20th September 2016, Childreach Nepal opened a further 62 classrooms for the children and families of Thangpalkot and Thandpaldhap in Sindhupalchowk.
Totalling 86 classrooms, our team in Nepal have overcome some insurmountable challenges to ensure that the children of Sindhupalchowk can return to education after the earthquakes of 2015, which destroyed thousands and thousands of their schools.
One man has been at the forefront of our movement to ensure that children are safe in the villages of Sindhupalchowk, and that they can be Taught, Not Trafficked after the earthquakes. That man is Urgen, a larger than life personality with a relentless motivation. Here’s what he had to say about the journey:
“This latest opening has got me a little nostalgic. I was looking over the rolling hills from Ali’s tea shop towards Banskharka – where it all started. Nearly 18 months have passed and I feel an overwhelming sense of accomplishment for the Childreach Family. I felt a need to express my gratitude.
In late April 2015, I was in a state of confusion. Way too much happened, and almost immediately after the earthquake we started talking about rebuilding the schools for the children. But I was unsure how to go about it. We were a child right’s charity not development. But by June we were ready to start the rebuild. It happened so fast, it was nothing short of remarkable.
We embarked into uncharted territory for us. I recall drawing page after page of school structure designs with Dr Tshering Lama (our Country Director) of how we envisioned they should look. I remember the rush to the Department of Education to get our agreement signed to build the new classrooms, to enable them to get back on their feet as well. It has been the biggest learning experience, but all worth it as I feel elation at seeing the children come back to school – and that they were able to sit their School Leaver Certificate exams to complete their education.
Just a word of encouragement was all it took to help me believe that we could do this. I remember Firoz Patel (CEO) being in Nepal and saying to me, “dude, you own this.” Those words did wonders as the confidence to tread further surged through me even when on the verge of giving up.
We first began constructing our classrooms amidst political unrest. It was a hot summer and we had no access to fuel. The trucks with our materials were being held at the borders by the blockade. This delay felt eternal to us at the time, but we never gave up.
The families at Banskharka had lost their homes – all a pile of rubble that needed to be cleared. Yet the entire community stood together and recognised the importance of an education for their children, especially as an opportunity not all of them had. They took ownership of the construction and made it all their own. This was evident when they warned us to postpone work due to bad weather conditions, and advice on how to reduce expenses.
At the same time, our own young Anamika was ever ready to hit the road to assess the progress of the schools and ensure the communities had all that they needed. These schools are the fruit of her labour. Thank you for walking that mile with me, going through that hardship during a most difficult time. You have my respect.
We took that leap into ensuring that children could return to school, but to do so we desperately needed support and funds. The entire team in the Nepal office were invaluable in ensuring that we had everything we needed. Our colleagues in the UK leapt to our aid. But it was ultimately thanks to every person who donated money, time and expertise to our cause. To all of those wonderful people who fundraised for us in our time of need. To every member of the Childreach family who rose to the challenge.
The 20th September 2016 was a day of reckoning, and I was able to share my joy with all of my inspiring colleagues, the resilient villagers of Sindhupalchowk and the excited children eager to learn in their new classrooms.
To all of you, thank you.”
- Urgen Lama