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Nepal: Community Search in Sindhupalchok

On searching for a location to rebuild, host volunteers and support community led development in post-earthquake Nepal. This week, Allen Gula talks about the process of working to rebuild in Nepali villages after the earthquake.

Sindhupalchok has been the unintentional focus of my ‘out of Kathmandu Valley’ visits after the earthquakes in Nepal. Prior to April 25th, I was trekking in the heavily tourist traveled areas of Pokhara and the Everest Base Camp trek. I assumed that would be my Nepal experience as a traveler, and was headed home on May 7th to Seattle.

Then the earthquake (s) happened. Since May my colleagues and I have been supporting locally organized earthquake relief work. Our networks of supportive friends, family and international development oriented donors were able to fundraise almost $20K USD to help rebuild in rural villages of Nepal.

Since then we’ve been a part of the most amazing unfolding of life events we’ve ever experienced in search of a cluster of communities that would collaborate with international volunteers on rebuilding fallen community spaces and homes in rural villages.

During the past months we worked in relief distribution, community household baseline surveys and search trips that have resulted in our traveling to the most affected districts by the April 25 and May 12th earthquakes in Nepal.

Kathmandu Valley, Nepal on the aftermath of the Nepal earthquake on 25th June 2015. People walk through street as buildings are being demolished.

Kathmandu Valley on the aftermath of the Nepal earthquakes. People walk through a street as buildings are being demolished.

Sindhupalchok, Gorkha, Kavrepalanchok, Nuwakot, Solokhumbu, and Dhading Districts respectively, saw equally devastating property damage to schools, clinics and homes across their rural hillsides.

Part of the difficulty in selecting a partner community to support was the widespread equality of the damage. The Abari office has been a hub for receiving rural community project discussion.

Groups of locals, foreign non-profit managers and citizens of rural villages have showed up at the office since day one. One of the benefits I’ve received from being in their office for over two months has been the exposure to so many different ideas and regions of the country.

Everyone is talking about rebuilding from so many different angles. Materials, labor, community mobilization and accessibility, site selection, funding, design of permanent long term housing, school reconstruction, etc. Abari has been a leader in Nepali architecture for many years, peaking its involvement in post-earthquake design, information sharing and reconstruction.

Through it all, the network of social interventionalists has provided many fascinating experiences in learning Nepali rural geography and sharing time with those that are most interested in rebuilding. On an Abari site built last week I met community members from Takhure, Sindhupalchok.

Monsoon season in Kathmandu.

Monsoon season in Kathmandu.

They are interested in learning rammed earth building techniques and supporting their village with a school reconstruction and eventually Model Village ambitions of vocational training, for community members to be able to rebuild their homes according to Earth Construction Principles.

They said the village was within a few hours bus ride of Kathmandu and was beautiful. Should I visit?

The ride was familiar to the NGO hub of Melamche. I had worked with Abari in May on transitional shelters in the same area. This time we crossed the river and headed up the extra 45 minutes and 1500 feet of elevation to the village of Thakure. Deraj, Mark and Prakash were my guides for the rest of the day on a 5-hour hike through the village and surrounding forests.

The views from the school site were beautiful and it has the potential to host volunteers in the terraced hillsides nearby. The clay was very red, potentially great for mixing with other aggregates and making rammed earth construction strong, earthquake proof and durable.

Transportation and delivery of materials is feasible with the bus road to Nawalpur passing directly in front of the elementary school proposed construction site.

Rumors are that even ‘Buddha Boy’, a Nepalese child monk named Ram Bahadur Bomjon, does his deep forest meditation sadana in the woods close to the village. I had seen the BBC presentation on this spiritual being and was aware of his story back in the States. I saw first hand how nature influences the meditations of a person, and I felt deeply that this place had potential for the work we are hoping to create for volunteers in Nepal.

One of the damaged homes in the Nepali villages.

One of the damaged homes in the Nepali villages.

That said, so many factors go into the preparation and site selection of a rural community development project. We are in communication with hundreds of interested volunteers, all of which are curious as to where Conscious Impact will be partnering for the Rebuild in Nepal projects.

The answer so far has been in a rural village within a few hours of the capital city Kathmandu, which was affected by the earthquake and has ambitions of rebuilding with local labor and materials. That description seemed remarkably accurate during my visit to Sindhupalchok.

Every day we are all moving closer in this country to rebuilding lives after the earthquake. There is so much to learn in the process; networking with inspirational community leaders while visiting their villages has been the most rewarding experience of my time here in Nepal.

My daily mantra is that everyone who needs support finds everyone that wants to serve and give. That our time here is conducive for the creation of rural community development projects, supporting, sharing and exchanging in search of transformational experiences working together, with and for Nature.

We have a lot of work to do, we have yet to officially select a site to use our resources in Nepal. This blog is meant to portray the process and confirm that many eager village leaders are doing great work and are open to volunteer experiences. The hope that international collaboration yields transformative experiences for all involved is alive and well.

If you are interested in joining a team of builders and farmers in rural village, Nepal please visit: www.consciousimpact.org/volunteer. There are 10 day Rebuild in Nepal programs as well as longer term internships in community development and Earth Building.

Namaste.

The Worldfolio accepts no liability for any communication or commercial exchange that any of our readers could establish with any of the organisations or associations mentioned in this post.

 

About Allen Gula

Freelance journalist, Non-profit Manager
Non-profit professional specializing in rural community development projects. Currently based in Kathmandu, researching long term earthquake relief programs.

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