Flood Relief for Students

We have seen the photos and the footages, and we continue to read the news. Yet, it is impossible to imagine the full impact of #NepalFloods2017 on the tens of thousands of those affected by it, and the short and long-term needs they are left grappling with.

As seen in recent disasters, the public has been effective in coming together for post-disaster relief work. After considering various options, and based on ground reports, Onward Nepal has decided that its #NepalFloods2017 relief efforts will be directed towards helping students by putting together a simple education package:

A bag with double stitched back straps for additional durability, filled with the following items:

  • 5 textbooks for writing, drawing.
  • 3 pencils
  • 1 eraser
  • 1 sharpener
  • 2 pens
  • 1 geometry set

All of the items were bought separately and made into a package as described above.

Delivery And Accountability:

In order to ensure these bags costing Rs. 460 (US$4.50) each, reach those who need it, we are collaborating with the relief effort led by Member of Parliament Gagan Thapa (former Minister of Health, and Chairman of Agriculture and Energy Committee).

After 2015’s devastating earthquake, MP Gagan Thapa took the lead in ensuring students could go back to schools as soon as possible with a campaign called “Let’s Build Schools.” The initiative was started to rebuild 50 schools, but ended up building more than 205 Temporary Learning Centres (TLC) and schools, including at least 17 pre-fab buildings in 7 districts. In Budhhanilkantha, a community school is being built in partnership with Global Shapers Kathmandu, incorporating sustainability and disaster preparedness elements we had written about and published in the New York Times Dot-Earth column after the 2015 quake.

In the last three weeks, a loosely organised team under MP Thapa’s leadership has already delivered relief materials worth over Rs. 1 Crore 30 lakhs (US$130,000) to thousands of flood-affected families through a collaborative working model with others involved in relief efforts. Campaigns, including those of Alliance for Disaster Relief and the popular #FillTheBucket, have also diverted their collections and resources to this effort. All deliveries have been coordinated with local government offices too, as per government regulations, while a team has been created specifically to keep a record of finances involved.

Considering MP Thapa’s history of disaster relief work and focus on post-disaster educational needs, as well as the current campaign’s pre-existing management and logistical structure, we will be handing over our school bags to MP Thapa’s relief efforts.

‘Let’s Build Schools’

The 2015 quake destroyed schools in Nepal’s mountains, hills, and valleys. The 2017 floods have had a similarly devastating effect in the country’s southern plains.

For those still looking to contribute to flood relief efforts, it is worth considering helping students go back to school. Employing local carpenters of flood-affected areas to make school furniture, and getting local tailors to stitch new school uniforms may be a good way to help students as well as the local economy recover.

In the meantime, if students are able to read and write even if schools are closed for repair, it may help them deal with the trauma of experiencing a disaster of this magnitude.

Last week, members of Onward Nepal team – Karma Tenzing (CEO), Dewan Rai (News Editor), Pragati Shahi (Senior Environment Writer), Sudhir Bhandari (Cinematographer), Heema Awasthi (Office Manager), and myself – contributed 6 bags each, for a total of 36 bags with stationeries as described above. On behalf of Onward Nepal as an organization, Karma then matched that figure, bringing Onward Nepal’s total to 72 bags. At a personal level, on behalf of my family, I contributed 28 additional bags, bringing our combined humble effort to a total of 100 bags, for at least 100 students.

News of floods will soon fade out and make way for dashain festival and elections in coming days. The public too cannot be expected to engage in an open ended relief effort. Still, it is unclear how the thousands of students affected by floods, many of whom belong to marginalized communities whose families survive on farming and basic wage, will be able to go back to school. While the images of the floods are still fresh in our minds, and before we move on from the flood relief efforts, if you can, I hope you too will consider some flood relief for students.

Author’s email: kashish[at]OnwardNepal.com
On Twitter: @Kashishds