Back to school in Nepal as villages rebuild

Navaraj Gurung (red shirt) plays a game of volleyball with some classmates outside the new temporary school constructed in their village

The village of Mandre is located just 5km from the epicentre of the 25 April earthquake. Among the many losses the village faced, one was the total destruction of the local school which had been providing classes to over 210 pupils from the village and surrounding areas.

But as monsoon season is about to set in, the village school is preparing to re-open, as the community has come together and built a temporary school made from wood and corrugated iron.

The pupil

Boy playing volleyball in Mandre village, Nepal

Navaraj Gurung playing volleyball outside the school

I was so bored at home - I want to go back to school to get knowledge.

15-year-old Navaraj Gurung was in the river, fishing with his friends, when the earthquake hit. “Rocks were falling everywhere,” he says. “I tried to move away but I could not escape and one fell on my leg.”

Now, just over one month on, he is anxious to get back to school. In fact, he was so eager to continue his studies that he went searching through the rubble of the old school library to try and find some text books to read in the evenings, after he has finished helping his mother clear rubble and build up a temporary shelter for the family.

The earthquake has had a huge impact on him. He now says that when he grows up he would like to be an engineer, in order to help his country rebuild. He says:

When I saw all the houses that were so damaged I thought that I wanted to help people make stronger and better houses.

The teacher

Mr Sitaram, teacher at Mandre village school, Nepal

Mr Sitaram, the Nepali teacher and temporary headmaster at the village school

Even if I die I will know I died educating the children of my village

Mr Sitaram is the Nepali teacher at Shree Bhagwat school. Along with around 35 other community members from the village he helped build the temporary school. He is also filling in as temporary headmaster.

For him getting children back into school as soon as possible is crucial. “I feel a great responsibility to my students,” he says.

We can’t stay stuck in this earthquake forever – it’s important for children to get educated.

With monsoon approaching Mr Sitaram knows there will be many challenges both for his community and for the village, including accommodating students who have nowhere else to stay. “We will put up temporary shelters for the students who come from the village of Goghe which is an hour’s walk away, because the monsoon water will mean they can’t cross the river to reach us and they will be cut off,” he says.

The parents

Ittha Kumari and her son Him Ray in Mandre village, Nepal

Ittha Kumari with her son Him Raj

I am worried about my son – if there is another earthquake or landslide something might happen to him – but I know I still have to send him to school.

Ittha Kumari had a huge scare when her 13-year-old son Him Raj was trapped under rubble after the earthquake hit. “My first thought was for my son and I started running immediately to go and find him,” she says.

So naturally she is worried for him and wants to keep him close by, but as her husband Tirtha says:

If he stays inside the house all the time he will never learn anything.

As for Him Raj, he is excited to be going back to school and getting some normalcy and routine back into his life. “I can’t wait to go back,” he says with a big grin.

CARE is supporting many schools similar to Shree Bhagwat, especially in the nearby district of Sindhupalchowk, where we are providing large waterproof tents in which to conduct pop-up lessons until proper structures can be rebuilt.

For the community of Mandre the re-opening of the school is a crucial lifeline, something that offers hope that life can go on and the promise of a new generation who will grow up affected by the earthquake but not crippled by it.

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News and stories are provided by CARE staff working to support our emergency responses and long-term development programmes.