Journey Reports

Nepal   February 10th 2017, Kathmandu, Nepal
Earthquake and Reconstruction

2nd school visited (5 hours from Kathmandu)

Jakob & Ernest:

The earthquake and the work of the Salesians

The earthquake in 2015 in Nepal has destroyed a lot. Approx. 12,000 schools, numerous private houses, hospitals and streets were razed to the ground by the almost one minute lasting quake.

The already very bad infrastructure of the country (Nepal belongs to the seven poorest countries in the world) still makes reconstruction still very difficult.

Countless villages are still cut off from civilization. Only footpaths lead to the high mountain villages. Children and adolescents are the most affected by the earthquake. School lessons are held in the open air or on temporary shelters. According to the Salesians, 5% of the destroyed schools have not yet been rebuilt.

Without the help of the numerous NGOs (non-governmental organizations) that came to Nepal from all over the world, fewer schools would have been rebuilt.

The question we asked was: How can it be that after almost 2 years and so much aid has so little happened in this country?

We could now go a long way, but we try to explain it as tightly as possible. The basic problems are the mentality of the Nepalese because of the still deep rooted caste system, the incredibly high corruption that goes through all walks of life, and the economic poverty of the country.

During our stay with the Salesians in Kathmandu, we visited 4 out of the 10 schools, which they rebuilt with the help of relief funds from Europe. All schools were formerly built by the government and are to remain government schools, despite the help of the Salesians. The trip to the schools in a jeep usually lasted about 4-5 hours. There are only a few good asphalt roads which, of course, were all built and financed by other countries. The villages can only be reached by means of an off-road vehicle. Roads and ways are dusty and in very bad condition. The Salesians told us about the difficulties and bureaucratic hurdles that must be overcome in order to build a school. There are numerous ministries and committees, which are to be lubricated and whose consent one has to beg. There are only a few who are really interested in a fast and high quality rebuilding of the schools.

Once all the approvals have been obtained through bribes, the next hurdle comes. Just about all materials must be brought from Kathmandu. The trucks sometimes need an entire day and four-wheel drive to bring the needed materials to the villages. Transport is also only possible in the dry period of the year, because in the rainy season the mud paths are washed away, and the villages are not accessible for a certain time.

Despite all the problems and difficulties, the Salesians are, as always, hopeful and purposeful, and the school building is progressing rapidly.

For our onward journey we are again confronted with difficulties

Unfortunately we have to take our bikes apart again and get on a plane. Our planned route would have led us across the north-east of India to the border with Myanmar. Due to unrest in Myanmar, the military has decided to close the land border to India for the next 3 months. We will fly to the north of Myanmar, to a city called Mandalay, from where we will continue to the capital Rangoon, in the south of the country. With this flight, we’ll pass approximately 2,000 km overland. Last time it was a visa problem, this time it is a crisis area, which forces us to detours. But we are in good spirits and look forward to warmer regions where warm jackets have to give way to T-shirts.

{Translation from German: Webmaster}

1st school visited (2 hours from Kathmandu)^ 1st school visited (2 hours from Kathmandu) ^
 i20170210-02 i20170210-03After the earthquake^ After the earthquake ^
2nd school visited (5 hours from Kathmandu)^ 2nd school visited (5 hours from Kathmandu) ^
Temporary schools^ Temporary schools ^
 i20170210-07 i20170210-08 i20170210-09 i20170210-10 i20170210-11 i20170210-12Dal bhat (traditional meal in Nepal)^ Dal bhat (traditional meal in Nepal) ^
 i20170210-14Rebuilding a tempel^ Rebuilding a tempel ^
Destroyed school^ Destroyed school ^
Rebuilding a new school. 3rd school visited (5 hours from Kathmandu)^ Rebuilding a new school. 3rd school visited (5 hours from Kathmandu) ^
Temporary school^ Temporary school ^
Pupils^ Pupils ^
Roads^ Roads ^
Two fathers (right and left) together with the head of the village^ Two fathers (right and left) together with the head of the village ^
Earthquake damages^ Earthquake damages ^

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