Thanking our friend Anil

Our friend Anil has recently completed the grueling NYC Triathlon for OLE Nepal.

The Panasonic NYC Triathlon which was held in New York City on July 19th, 2015 saw the presence of many enthusiastic participants who ran, swam and cycled. Among them was our friend Anil who successfully completed the Triathlon with flying colors.

While finishing the Triathlon was his aim, his inner motive was to support a good cause. He generously supported OLE Nepal’s campaign to rebuild schools in the earthquake affected areas. Many people cheered up for his courage and determination. Through this event, he was also successful in involving many people from his community in this campaign. His active role in spreading a word on our campaign indeed helped us gain many generous supporters.

“I have decided to top off my quest for a physically fit heart by using it as an opportunity to help a charity that has made significant difference in the lives of rural Nepalis by providing them with education that is intrinsically entwined with technology.”

OLE Nepal family would like to heartily thank and congratulate Anil for his hard work and dedication.

Photo courtesy: Mr. Sonam Ukyab

ready to swim

Anil getting ready to dive into Hudson River in New York

Swimming in hudson river

Crossing the Hudson River

cycling

Transitioning from swimming to cycling!

running

Transitioning from cycling to running

nepal flag

Almost there!  Proudly flying and waving the flag of Nepal

with the medals

After finishing the Triathlon… Smiling away with the medal

amazing couple

Amazing team play

nepali group

Thank you all the Nepali community members for coming out and supporting our campaign. You guys rock!!

Report from Schools in Western Gorkha

I got the opportunity to travel to earthquake affected areas in Gorkha during the last week of June alongside a team from Gorkha Foundation. They had gone there to start building a high school in Nepane, Kearbari VDC of the district. My intention was to gather first hand information of the damages caused by the two major earthquakes on April 25 and May 12, and to find out how communities had been coping with the destructions caused by the disaster. I was particularly keen on learning how schools were managing in temporary learning shelters, and what kind of help they needed both in the short and long terms.

We traveled up the western part of Gorkha, along its border with Lamjung district, and visited twelve schools and met with headteachers from additional three schools in Chopprak, Kerabari, Simjung, Muchhok, Jaubari, Hansapur, Kharibot VDCs. Every single one of the schools had extensive damages, with most of the buildings completely destroyed by the strong tremors. Standing in front of the obliterated school buildings, it struck me how fortunate we were that the earthquake occurred on a Saturday when all the schools were closed. While schools were able to salvage few desks and benches, other equipments including computers were not spared when the walls caved in. Out of the 23 schools in the district where OLE Nepal had established digital libraries, the library servers and machines were safe in about half of the schools.

Amidst the ruins and destruction, there were a number of positive and encouraging findings. Every school that we visited had already built temporary learning shelters with whatever means and resources they could find, and classes were underway even in the sub-optimal conditions. While some of the schools have used locally available bamboo and wood to build the structures and have used hay for roofing, others have used corrugated galvanized iron (CGI) sheets that they had received from various sources. Few schools have also used large heavy-duty tents provided to them by donors. Many schools have also reused the CGI sheets from demolished buildings to construct the temporary shelters. Most schools reported attendance at above 75%.

Temporary Classrooms

Classrooms under tents

Makeshift classroom

Class in session

The schools did not wait for donors or government to come build the shelters for them. Each school received Rs. 25,000 per classroom from the District Education Office (DEO) to help clear the debris and build the shelter, and a notice that they must start classes by a mid-June. Local communities, parents, and teachers got together to help build the shelters, while in some schools local youth volunteers came to help. This was an example of the resilience of the local communities, and clearly demonstrated the high priority they placed on their children’s education, especially in light of the fact that many families did not have a proper place to live in.

Makeshift classroom

Temporary home

Temporary classrooms using old and new CGI sheets

Temporary classrooms built with recovered CGI sheets

Another interesting observation was that one building design that withstood the earthquake test was one that the government had been promoting for about a decade. The two-room truss structure designed with assistance from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) was found standing in all the schools we visited even when the adjacent structures were completely obliterated. The walls that were built using stones and mud had come down, but the truss system and roof were left intact. In one school where the wall was built using stone and cement around the truss structure, the building got a green sticker from the inspector, allowing the school to run classes in the building, whereas all the other buildings in the school got red stickers. Future building design for schools should definitely take this fact into consideration, with modifications on the walls to make them safer and stronger.

Truss structure intact but walls have fallen

Truss building with green sticker

The school headteachers and community leaders showed interest in moving on from temporary shelters to build permanent structures. At the end of my visit, I met with the Chief at the DEO, Mr. Hari Aryal, in Gorkha Bazaar, and discussed the DEO’s plans for reconstructing schools. He said that the DEO is expecting approved designs from the Ministry of Education by July end, after which schools can start the building process.

Visit to Gorkha

Another crucial task was completed with assessment of the most affected area, Gorkha district. Our team was there last week. We did a thorough assessment of the schools which were severely damaged by the earthquake. After spending almost a week in different places of Gorkha, we came across many schools which were in no position to run their regular classes. Many schools require rebuilding and reconstruction. After scanning through the affected areas in need basis, OLE Nepal team is planning to reconstruct five schools in Gorkha district with generous support from our friends at AirAsia Foundation and from local and international donors. Along with rebuilding of the schools, OLE Nepal will specially focus on providing learning resources to the students through an innovative tool called XO laptop.

We will be sharing detailed information about the relief project soon. Check out some photos taken during the visit:

building

Temporary classrooms

A destroyed house

A destroyed house

Students play in front of the temporary construction

Students playing in front of the construction area

Classrooms under the tents

Classrooms under the tents

Collection of rubble

Collection of rubble

Inspecting the temporary classes

Inspecting the temporary classrooms

A teacher runs his class in a temporary classrooms.

A teacher runs his class in a temporary shelter

A child looks through a curtain while a teacher runs her class.

A child looks through a curtain while a teacher is teaching

Destructed classroom building. It happens to be grade 5 classroom

Destructed classroom building. It happens to be of grade 5

Destroyed school premises

Destroyed school premises

Affected neighborhood

Affected neighborhood

Collapsed houses

Collapsed houses

Only thing remaining is the chair

Only thing remaining is the chair

A room fully covered with rubble

A classroom fully covered with rubble

Portraits in relief center


Our volunteers from OLE Nepal have been working with children in Tundikhel relief camp for over a month. They bring interactive learning materials in child friendly XO laptops for the children. The children can explore various learning activities in Math, English and Science in Nepali, English and Chepang languages. The children look forward to using these laptops and they seem engaged in those learning activities. It was enlivening to meet children from various backgrounds , interests and aspirations. While we got to interact with them helping them learn, we also took their interviews along with their portraits.

Photo Courtesy: Sanjog Rai

portraits

Sunima Barami

Nabina Karki

Suraj

Sunita

Suraj Lama

For more pictures from Tundikhel: http://blog.olenepal.org/index.php/archives/1623

Finding calmness in the center of devastation

Tundikhel, an only vast open space in between the city, is now filled with families who lost their homes in the recent earthquake. As we drive, walk or ride pass through the lanes alongside Tundikhel, we can see numerous tents – some donated by China and some made locally by the sufferers. When OLE Nepal team visited the ‘refugee camp like place’ it was heart wrenching to see people in need of necessities required for survival. Many organizations from various backgrounds provided immediate relief effort, such as food, water, shelter, sanitation, etc.

Amidst all the chaos, we at OLE Nepal are particularly concerned about the welfare of thousands of children who have been affected in more ways than one – distressed, displaced and completely traumatized by the scenes of devastations all around them. As we try to rehabilitate communities, it is utterly important to pay special attention to the emotional and physical well-being of these children. Along with their physical safety, their psychological security needed to be duly addressed as well.

With so many schools destroyed, and communities displaced, many children are deprived of education and will be for months, if not years. In this critical time, it is important to give children the space where they can enjoy their time in quality learning and exploring.

Like our previous relief efforts in Kirtipur, Khokana and Bungamati, OLE Nepal is now providing relief to the children at Tundikhel. Following are the photos taken during the first day of our relief effort.

Woman washing her clothes in a unbearable heat.
Woman washing her clothes in an unbearable heat.

A child playing around his tent.
A child playing around his tent.

CFS
Child Friendly Space at Tundikhel.

Children singing their hearts out.
Children singing their hearts out.

Expressing themselves through art.
Expressing themselves through art.

Kids busy in various activities.
Kids busy in various activities.

Learning through a new tool.
Learning through a new tool.

Peter helping out kids in using the laptop.
Peter helping out kids in using the XO Laptops.

Focused and deligent
Focused and diligent.

Many kids showed up.
Many kids showed up at the center.

Working in groups.
Working in groups.

Enjoying the moment.
Enjoying the moment.

Continuing our fruitful effort @ Kirtipur

OLE Nepal’s Earthquake Relief Effort has been sprouting positive results in both Child Friendly Spaces of Kirtipur and Khokana/Bungamati. Our volunteers has been traveling everyday to provide relief for children by engaging them in interactive activities from our education tool. Following are some photos taken during one of the sessions at Kirtipur.

kids
Smiling for the camera.

kids
“I like parts of plants activities of E-Paath.”

kids
Kids exploring different activities on their laptop.

creating her own artwork
Creating her own art.

i love e-paath
“I love E-Paath.”

playful
Covered hall at this CFS allows students to let themselves free.

kids
Kids definitely got some refreshment after using the laptops.

we love watermelons
We love watermelon.

group picture with kids
Group picture with kids at CFS in Navajyoti.

group picture
Group picture with kids at CFS in Janasewa.

Relief efforts at Khokana and Bungamati

Last week, our team members had visited Khokana and Bungamati areas to observe the situation of the people, particularly of the children. After understanding the critical environment of the area, our team decided to carry on the relief effort to help children engage in learning. OLE Nepal in collaboration with Loo Niva Child Concern Group is taking forward the relief effort at their child Friendly Spaces (CFS). Volunteers from OLE Nepal and Loo Niva oversees the session and helps children invest good time in learning.

Following are the photos taken during the sessions:

orientation
OLE Nepal team members providing orientation to volunteers from Loo Niva on using the XO laptop.

children playing around
Many children from near by area come to this CFS during the day.

children waiting
Children eagerly waiting for their laptop session.

Children on XOs
They seem more comfortable on the floor while exploring what’s in the laptop.

Peter coaching children on using the laptops.
Peter coaching children on using the laptops.

busy in laptops
Investing their time in quality learning.

happy faces
Happy faces 😀

focused
Learning in groups.

child friendly spaces
Children having fun time at the CFS. Teachers and volunteers are actively involved in engaging children in many interactive activities.

Learn more about Loo Niva here