Malaysians are a generous lot indeed. My earlier articles on my charity efforts in Nepal were well received by The Star readers, and donations poured in. A total of RM33,490 was raised.
Armed with this sizeable sum, I paired off with Kalu Tamang, my Nepali friend and fellow project co-ordinator, and headed deep into the rural village of Maneswara, Ghumangkot, in Sindhupalchok district.
Sindhupalchok is one of the worst-hit districts in the 2015 earthquake in Nepal. According to official figures, more than 3,000 people lost their lives, 900 were injured and 3,000 people remained unaccounted for.
About 90,000 people in this district have been identified as in need of assistance. After assessing what was urgently needed, Kalu and I decided to provide warmth for winter and support education by giving out fleece jackets and school supplies to children. We could not address everyone’s problems, but at the very least we hope that with better education for the children, their lives would improve.
Piled high with the goods, our open-air truck rumbled through dirt roads for hours before we finally arrived at our destination.
The first school we pulled up at was Bhadrakali Secondary School. It was one of the larger schools in the village with an enrolment of 600 students and 17 teachers. Children in tattered uniforms ran out of the partially constructed one-and-a-half-storey school building to greet us.
“Hopes were high when construction of a new school building was underway. Then the earthquakes struck and construction work stopped.
“Our hopes were dashed. We are now back to our initial predicament with no solution in sight,” lamented head teacher Raj Kumar Bhattarai.
We couldn’t build them a new school, but we provided what they asked for.
“It’s very cold in the classrooms these days. These fleece jackets will protect the children from the cold. The stationery sets will come in useful too,” said Raj Kumar who expressed his thanks to the Malaysian donors.
Our next destination was Shree Jayagolma Primary School. The school has 65 students and four teachers cramped inside its five temporary classrooms which were constructed using zinc sheets.
We distributed the blankets and stationery sets to the children. It was a humbling experience to see how simple things can make a child’s day. These Nepalese children are really shy, but when they break into a smile, you know you’ve done something right, and all your efforts become worthwhile.
“Helping the children is also helping their parents get back to normal lives. There are no words to describe our appreciation. Thanks a million,” said head teacher Ranjana Timalsina, pressing her palms together in a gesture of gratitude.
I stayed with a friendly host family in Maneswara village. Typical of Nepali hospitality, my host cleared a room in their house for my use, while they crammed into shared rooms.
It was winter during my last trip there, and the cold was quite unbearable. I was thankful to have thick warm blankets to sleep under. Well aware of their needs, Kalu and I bought quality blankets from the capital city of Kathmandu and distributed them to the villagers here. Thanks to donors, the villagers can now enjoy the same warmth for years to come.
As I walked around the village, children ran about proudly donning their new red fleece jackets. A young father called out to me and gave me a thumbs up, and a broad smile.
I may have travelled solo and embarked on this project single-handedly, but the collective efforts of donors made it all possible.
Kalu is no stranger to charity work. As the owner of trekking agency Nepal Azimuth Treks (www.nepalazimuthtreks.com) which I have trekked with numerous times, Kalu is a firm believer in supporting his own people. He has built sanitation facilities and health posts in remote villages.
When my trip came to an end, Kalu continued the good work with leftover money from the fund.
Kalu answered pleas for help from two rural schools in Kavrepalanchok district. He distributed school supplies and school bags to the schoolchildren, bringing my 2016 Nepal charity projects to a close. All in all, the donations benefitted more than 1,500 Nepalese.
The tiny Shree Jayagolma Primary School in Maneswara village left a deep impression on me, long after I left Nepal. From the outside, the classrooms looked like abandoned storerooms, but upon stepping inside, I was amazed to see that the classrooms were very tidy and filled with creative DIY educational materials.
Brimming with passion and dedication for their small school, the teachers made the most of what they have to contribute to the students’ education. Their biggest wish is to build five classrooms to create a more conducive learning environment for the children.
I may have returned home, but their wish lingers on in my mind. I want to help them, and with adequate support, I hope to embark on this new building project.
It will be challenging to raise the funds required for rebuilding the school, but for the sake of the children’s education, I will give it a shot. Will you join me?
Contact Selina Ng at firstname.lastname@example.org.