Rosie working with a Nepalese girl

Building a temporary school and shelter in Nuwakot

Slightly filthy and thoroughly exhausted, the Secret Garden team has just returned from Chaughara, Nuwakot. Where, through our lovely local contact Atula, a Montessori school teacher from Nagaland and indecently one of the warmest and funniest ladies you could ever hope to meet, we were able to complete our first building mission.

It was Atula’s school grounds that acted as the distribution centre for the 9 surrounding VDCs when the Secret Garden truck rolled in to Nuwakot, the target for our first big aid relief mission outside of Kathmandu – now Atula’s school acts as our base camp, our little foothold in the community. So though our plan to touch base with Atula initially involved bringing the children a little laugher with skipping ropes and footballs, a second wave of the Secret Garden team were able to begin construction, bringing tools, materials and wo/manpower to the village. The school was in desperate need of temporary classrooms to withstand the monsoon, during our visit surveyors from the Government had blacklisted the building as a Red Zone; Nepal is now working with a traffic light system for structures damaged by the earthquake. With guidance from Saroj, our Bamboo Guru from Kathmandu, our team constructed two large shelters for two hundred children to stay safe and dry under, just in time for the first official day of school after the quakes. Our team even led the children in Art classes and rattled their geographical brains, sharing with them the cultures from our own countries from all across the globe. It was really lovely to see, not only the children back in school and learning, but also the community getting a little normality back after such traumatic past few weeks.

95% of Nuwakot’s houses were rendered completely unliveable after the earthquakes and landslides, so after assessing which individuals and families within the community were in need of our support, we were able to efficiently distribute 81 corrugated tin roofing panels. These, in addition to timbers salvaged from the wreckage, bamboo harvested from the local jungle and cooperation with the villagers, have now completely transformed the lives of 8 families. These people, either through completely new structures or structural improvement, now have the shelter to survive the oncoming monsoon. Which is incredible, but we know our work is far from complete here.

A trek further along the river basin and up into the terraced ‘foothills’ (they are mountains by most standards) took us to new families in need, new roofs leaking, new lives shattered by this strange twist of nature. But we see these last few days as our training for what we face now, as we coordinate to cover more ground and revisit all three districts the Secret Garden truck rolled into: Nuwakot, Kavre and Sindhupalchowk. Acting efficiently to instill momentum within communities to begin rebuilding as a community, not an ‘us and them’ but an ‘us’. Training and supporting: with materials, with wo/man power and spreading our support out to those who need so badly. But we desperately need your support too! So to all the lovelies giving your time, giving your donations: you helped build these classrooms, you gave shelter to these families. So thank you!

Anything however small, even just sharing our work, helps keep this cause alive – so keep it up! You are wonderful. Big love from Secret Garden. And big love from Nepal! X

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