A week in the life of…

Following on from a fabulous day in Thulosirubari, I launched into a diverse and action packed week. I decided it’s worth at least trying to capture an essence of it to better give an insight into my life here in Chautara;

#1 On Sunday June 28th I took advantage of a quieter work day to go and visit some of Save the Children’s project sites around the south of the district. First stop was a Temporary Learning Centre (TLC) set up in Sangachok as part of the Education program. What an amazing location for a school;

01 Sangachok school

#2 First a discussion with the deputy head of the school about the level of damage and loss of equipment, their satisfaction at having returned to 100% attendance after installation of the TLCs and their plans for winterisation as the temporary bamboo structures currently being put in place will not be habitable come the winter. Then time for a tour of the new, temporary classrooms and I guess my teacher genes couldn’t resist the opportunity… As Class 10 were on a break between classes the students invited me in for a chat;

02 TLC class 10

#3 Then the drive continued on to the second municipality and semi-urban area of the district called Melamchi to visit a Child Friendly Space (CFS) set up as part of the Child Protection program. It is a long and bumpy ride along lush valleys to reach this second hub. Every journey, even when not attempting to reach anywhere technically designated ‘hard to reach’, brings home the inherent difficulties of effectively distributing support of any kind in this terrain. Especially as the monsoon deepens and landslides become more and more commonplace;

03 CFS Melamchi

#4 On Monday, Nick Finney Operations Director for Asia for Save the Children visited Chautara to see Save the Children’s relief work first hand. In-between meeting with Government officials, we managed a brief meeting to discuss my role and it’s relevance longer term. On Tuesday I was invited to join a handover ceremony for a series of TLCs built by Hands International for a school in Pipaldanda. Little did I know that I was counted as a ‘special guest’ and so was invited to sit at the front of the event next to John Ging Director of the Operational Division at OCHA, the District Education Officer (DEO) for Sindupalchok and other dignitaries. Here I am being welcomed by the headmaster with a traditional garland of flowers and scarf; the children are enjoying the performances of traditional music and dance by their fellow students and finally I received a token of love from the students from an extremely adorable ‘postgirl’;

05 TLC event 2

#5 Second to being named a special guest my next surprise was being asked to make a speech?! As the children were all being extremely patient even in the hot sun, I kept mine short and sweet and in Nepali for added entertainment value;

04 TLC event

#6 On Wednesday Dr Philip Goodwin, Chief Executive of VSO International came to visit Sindhupalchok. Philip was in Nepal to review VSO’s response plans, gain a greater understanding of the situation on the ground and how VSO could best fit in and add value to the relief efforts. Here’s a quick video from Philip’s visit LINK Little did I know when the the visit was announced (the night before) that the visit would also involve an interview and photo shoot – luckily I’d chosen a clean kurta to wear but otherwise I just hope the extended periods of time with only a bucket shower in a toilet available are not too apparent;

06 CEO

#7 For the rest of the week Chautara simply continued to be a place of constant contrasts – for example amazing scenery alongside the remnants of contents of former District Government offices;

08 contradictions

#8 For my six weeks so far in Chautara this has been the view from next to my office and sleeping tent location. Beautiful to watch the changing weather patterns from day to day and morning to night, especially with the slow onset of the monsoon;

07 all seasons

#9 Last but not least the demolition activities are in full swing with people demolishing their own homes and agencies working to support them and handle bringing down complicated structures in confined urban settings as well as Government & civic buildings. Sometimes the heavy rains get there first. This collection of photos shows one of the most distinctive buildings from my earlier posts being brought down in stages. Absolutely against the safety advice of engineers and demolition experts, the owner of this building sent in labourers to remove the door and window frames before he would allow the demolition to take place. This of course puts the labourers lives at risk as well as bystanders as unstable buildings are made even more unstable even as aftershocks and heavy rains are frequent. In this specific case no-one was injured but elsewhere people have not been so lucky. As a result the agencies involved in demolition have stepped up their safety advice to the public using local radio and other media to try and emphasise the dangers involved. Final shot, locals survey the pile of rubble left behind after the dust has settled;

09 demolition


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