“It takes a whole village to raise a child.” ~ Nigerian proverb
Manju Shree Primary School students
The village may be physically located in a poor area of Nepal but the residents now include people from Australia, New Zealand and Scotland.
I’ve just recently returned from a Community Project trip to Nepal with World Expeditions. It was an opportunity to help in the post-earthquake rebuilding of one small corner of Nepal unlikely to receive government help.
Seven Aussies, one Kiwi and a couple of resident Scots (actually, Sheila is Irish and John is English but they live in Aberdeen) dug, picked, shovelled, carried, hammered, pulled, shaped, bent, chipped, cut and ran their hearts out for nine whole days to provide a solid foundation to a new school building in the village of Lura, Lower Solukhumbu, Nepal.
The Lura School Project Team – Sheila, Emma, Pic, Jenny, John, Simon, David, Heather, Judy & Carolyn.
An Experience in Gratitude:
For the warm welcome we received from the school and wider community.
The children waiting to offer us prayer scarves and marigold garlands on our arrival at the school.
A welcome of marigold petals
Prayer scarves presented by the Headmaster
Welcome Ceremony Day
After the welcome ceremony
For sunny days and the satisfaction of hard work.
Digging out the foundations with picks and shovels. Oh, for a bobcat.
Digging out the foundations
So many walls to break through
That’s another wall gone
Rock Chippers making gravel
Bending rebar into squares for the concrete pillar frames. With a few nails and a bit of pipe.
Bending wires for the concrete pillar frames
Making frames for the concrete pillars
For the things we take for granted back home.
Like a truck full of gravel.
The Rock Chippers. Making gravel with rocks and hammers.
The “Flintstones Cart”
Three person powered
Or a cement mixer.
The concrete chain (took all of us when we got up the other end)
Or a wheelbarrow.
Nepali village wheelbarrows
Nepali village wheelbarrow loaded and ready to be taken away
This is how you use a Nepali village wheelbarrow
Or for the easy availability of supplies.
Hammering nails out of wood to be reused. With a rock.
Pulling nails out of wood to be reused
First hammer the nail back through the wood
Then pull it out the other side
Master of the Crowbar
A bucket full of nails pulled out of all the wood and ready for straightening and reusing.
Where they get the big rocks (down the hill)
Breaking the big rocks into smaller rocks
How do you get the rocks from down the hill to the school?
For the smiles and fun of children.
For new friendships.
New friends – Project members and school teachers
For the fulfillment of achieving more than expected.
Based on my previous Community Project experience, I was expecting a lack of access to electricity and mobile phone reception while working in the village so imagine my surprise to have access to both of these luxuries. (What I hadn’t counted on and much worse was the lack of access to chocolate. Tough days…)
Our trekking crew successfully jerry-rigged a powerboard and electric light in the dining tent, feeding off a line from a nearby house.
Yes, I know what you’re thinking. As were we. I’m getting to that.
One night, Sheila asked our guide the question that had been on all our minds. “Shouldn’t we pay someone for the electricity?”
Bikash shook his head and explained. “Everyone in this village is so grateful you are here. They are so thankful that you have come to help them. They ask all the time, ‘What can we do? What can we offer them?’ They want to do whatever they can to say thank you for what you are doing.”
There was silence around the table. I think all of us were deeply moved and felt both proud and humbled. The people of Lura have so little and we were the ones to be thankful for the opportunity to do such a simple thing to help them.
Our building supervisor (in the mask) at the Farewell Ceremony
Guests of Honour at the Farewell Ceremony
Sherpa people offering thanks with a song and special drink of raksi. The look on my face is because I was trying not to cry.
Traditional dance from the Tamang people
Dancing at the Farewell Ceremony
Dancing at the Farewell Ceremony
Sherpa dance and song
Farewell cake – enough to make you cry
Handing out the cake
Changing the World
In a physical sense, we have changed the world of the community of Lura and the children of Manju Shree Primary School, helping them on their way to a new and sturdy school building.
More importantly, however, our own worlds have changed in ways we are still discovering. We may never see our lives in quite the same light again. And a part of us will always be living in a small village in Nepal.
Manju Shree Primary School, Lura
Proud to put my name to this