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Nonprofit engineers save students in Nepal

Dust falls from the cracks in the walls and ceiling as the floor shudders, sending gasps and small screams echoing off the temporary tin roofs. The teacher tries to calm the class memories of destruction in the not-so-distant past haunt the children.

It takes 15 minutes or more to calm the students. The teacher tries to reassure them. “It’s an aftershock. They are normal and we are safe.” But the truth is that they are not safe. Many schools in the Nuwakot district continue holding classes in damaged buildings. They have to. The resources are just not adequate enough to house and protect the children from the elements during the monsoon and winter months ahead.

“The students do not like studying in the transitional shelters,” said teacher, Ram Chandra Nepal. “These shelters tend to get hot during summers and cold during winters.  Also when children play around it, it makes a lot of noise, which tends to scare a few of the traumatized children. We need to strengthen our school building as soon as possible so that we can provide our children with a good studying environment.”

The need in Nepal for safe schools is tremendous. More than 30,000 classrooms collapsed in the April 2015 event and thousands more have been tagged unsafe to enter.

“Four children from our school passed away during the earthquake,” said Menuka Adhikari, Vice-Principal of Shree Shiladevi Secondary School in Nuwakot. “Now I want to have strong classrooms for my children to study in.”

Thanks to the support Miyamoto Global Disaster Relief received in the short aftermath of the April 2015 earthquake, the nonprofit was able to partner with the school, the Department of Education and nonprofit organization, Round Table, to engineer the repair and retrofit of this earthquake-damaged, 18-classroom school building.

The cost for repairing and retrofitting schools is relatively small by US standards. However, the strengthening methods will greatly improve life safety and ensure that these schools will be a safer place for these children.. The repair and retrofit for the Shree Shiladevi Secondary school will cost about USD $ 45,000.00 – which is about 28% of what it would cost to demolish and rebuild the school.

Miyamoto Relief is also currently contributing to the repair and retrofit of four other “red-tagged” schools in the hard-hit district of Nuwakot, where the repairs and strengthening for each school totals less than US $23,000 each. In some cases, just over US $10,000 can complete the required repairs to ensure these children are protected.

“School buildings in Nepal are really dangerous places,” said Dr. H. Kit Miyamoto, president of Miyamoto Relief. “This is why we exist – to make these damaged but repairable buildings better and safer.”

Please help rebuild safe schools in Nepal.  

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