About a month after landing in Kathmandu to begin my internship with the Miyamoto office in Nepal, I had the chance to go on a true adventure. While only about 60 kilometers northwest of Kathmandu in the Nuwakot district, it’s a journey to reach the Shree Shiladevi Secondary School. The plan was to check on its recent reconstruction, which Miyamoto Relief helped repair and retrofit following significant structural damage during the April 25th earthquake. Excited to finally escape the busy streets and traffic of Kathmandu, we started up the mountain on a winding, narrow dirt road that would eventually lead to Nuwakot.
Looking out from the passenger seat window, I saw the most breathtaking green mountains, with a blanket of tediously crafted terrace farming that stretched from the top of the mountains to the bottom of the valleys. Groups of kids skipped down the road on their way to school, women sold fruit on the side of the street, and men hauled giant baskets of cement or bricks on their backs. I was fascinated by this seemingly simple way of life just a few kilometers outside of the city.
This simple way of life may be one of the reasons Nuwakot was one of the most areas of Nepal most affected by the 2015 earthquakes, however. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), about 1,000 were killed and 1,311 injured in the district.
Many of the homes and buildings are made from local materials such as clay, mud and handmade bricks, and have been passed down through the same family for many generations. If a family wants to expand the size of its home, they simply build onto their current run-down house. Different materials are used, causing an inconsistency that does not perform well during earthquakes. They also will add on to their homes without assessing whether or not the current building can support additional loads.
When we finally pulled up to the Shiladevi School, several students welcomed us at our car and walked with us into the main courtyard of the school. While talking and laughing with all the children, I couldn’t help but think about how traumatizing it would be to experience an earthquake at that age. These children were lucky—the earthquake occurred on a Saturday, so most of them were at home or playing outside when it occurred instead of in their unsafe school. But many of the students lost their homes and, on top of this, the 300 children in this school could no longer able to enter their classrooms. When this would change remained uncertain.
Being able to attend school and learn every day is a source of hope, comfort, and security for children. When this is lost due to an unpreventable natural disaster, a sense of hope is one of the most important things one could be offered, and that is exactly the motivation of Miyamoto Relief’s work. In partnership with the Government of Nepal’s Department of Education and Round Table, Miyamoto Relief provided their technical expertise to this community and assisted with the reconstruction of the school.
With the completion of this project, these students and their teachers have returned to school and continue their education with a newfound sense of security. When asked what she liked most about her classroom, Anita Rai, a student in the sixth grade, said her favorite part is that her classroom is safe. She enjoys coming to school and learning every day and is so thankful to have a school that she loves and feels comfortable in.
At the reconstructed Shiladevi School, I sensed a feeling of hope as children ran into their classrooms after recess, full of joy and eager to learn. It was such a privilege to visit this school and see firsthand how Miyamoto is helping restore affected communities and to get to be a part of the work they are doing to help Nepal move forward from the 2015 earthquake.