Ten families in Nepal donated their land to construct a safe school after the local school was destroyed by a devastating earthquake two years ago.
Plan International will build a three-building classroom, science lab, library, and playground with disability-friendly facilities. The school will host more than 400 students.
Juna and Gifa, two of the women who donated their land for construction, said they gave up the land so their children could have a brighter future and contribute to the development of society. Both women are illiterate and did not get an opportunity to go to school.
There is a risk that their children would study elsewhere if their school was not in good condition, the women said. They indicated that they would lose income by giving up their land, but they cannot compare an income to an education.
Before the 7.8 magnitude earthquake in April 2015, the previous location of the school was unsafe – prone to high winds and dry landslides, built with only local construction materials. After the earthquake, Plan International built temporary learning classrooms. Skilled masons, trained by Plan International, have also supported the construction of the school.
After two years of studying in a temporary classroom, Manju and her cousin Lila are two of the students who will soon be starting school in a new, safe, earthquake-resistant school. “If we do not go to school, we will end up just like our parents, who can hardly write their names,” said 14-year-old Manju. “We would spend our lives working on the farm, doing traditional agricultural work. After studying, I will work hard to stop the bad culture in our society. I want to help others, it’s not just about us – it is about helping the community.”
Fifteen-year-old Lila is equally committed to getting an education to make a better life for herself and her family. “If we were not in school, we would likely be married off. By staying in school, we will not get married, we will stand on our own two feet and not have to rely on others.”
“In the old school, if there was an earthquake, we would not have safe, open spaces for us to go to,” said Manju. “Now with the new school, it will be much bigger, so if the shaking starts, we can all come together in a safe space.”
“Previously, we did not have a playground, or a library,” said Lila. “Our new school will have these. Our old temporary school was not disability-friendly as the ground was unstable, but the new school will support these children. For example, children who are not able to see well will be able to sit at the front of the classroom.”
Lila wants to become an engineer and is positive the new school, which will be constructed with the support of Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and open in May of 2017, will help her achieve her goal.
“In our community, most men go abroad, and after the earthquake there was a large demand for engineers,” she said. “Many came from outside our village, but they did not behave well, and caused some issues. I am a female, but so what? I may be limited physically, but if my mind is sharp, then I can become an engineer.”