What happens after the bodies are counted, after the wounds are bandaged, after the world attention leaves to focus on the next global disaster? April 2015 Nepal, a small and peaceful country on the south side of the Himalayas, suffered a major earthquake that left close to 9,000 dead, hundreds of thousands with destroyed homes, and vast stretches of the countryside without any standing infrastructure with which to provide public services to the affected communities.
Where do you start rebuilding, when the spotlight of world attention turns off? The answer is simple. Ask those who are there, ask Naya Sanghu.
That is exactly what the Gorkha Foundation did. The Gorkha Foundation had been active in the Gorkha district of Nepal, the epicenter of the earthquake, for over 10 years. It is a local Nepali NGO that raises funds around the world for volunteer activities in the district. As the planes full of relief supplies unloaded, as the international coordinating committees coordinated, as the government officials officiated, the Gorkha Foundation asked the question to those in the villages were they had built relationships for over a decade; Where do we start to rebuild?
The answer they got was simple; start with the schools. Homes would be rebuilt by neighbors helping neighbors, roads and government infrastructure would get rebuilt over time, but time could not wait for the children. The future was with the children and that need was now. Build a school and the children’s routine returns to normal. Build a school and it brings the community back together. Build a school, amongst the rubble, and it’s a sign that there is hope for tomorrow.
Naya Sanghu is one of 358 villages in the Gorkha District of Nepal that lost their school in the 2015 quake. While reconstruction plans were being drawn-up and while assistance distribution was being debated, the Gorkha Foundation raised money and built schools. They built them with contributions of labor and local materials from the villages, by activating their volunteer network within the district and internationally, and by networking globally to bring in the funds to keep the projects moving forward. So far they have built 15 schools.
Fifteen schools in 2 years equates to a lot of fund raising activities. Fifteen school in two years equates to a lot of years to get the job done. HDPI has been collaborating with the Gorkha Foundation to access major donor funding for this project, and to increase the capacity of the Foundation to manage a greatly expanded school rebuilding program.
So, what’s all that effort look like? Ask the children of Naya Sanghu.