Fast forward 10 months. During that time, the team received regular updates from Nepal as the building started to grow and all of a sudden those holes were hidden by the shell of a building.
Then, on Monday 17th September 2018, the NGO we work with in Nepal, The Nepal Youth Foundation, completed the handover ceremony of the building to the School Management Committee. The building was formally opened by the Mayor of Lalitpur, Mr Chiri Babu Maharjan and the keys were handed over by the President of Nepal Youth Foundation, Mr Som Paneru. It was a joyful occasion and everyone involved was amazed by the sight of these beautiful new classrooms.
The children are excited, and now having lessons in these seismically safe classrooms.
On 20th November 2017, 11 members of the St. James’s Place community arrived in a village on the outskirts of Kathmandu where they were greeted by a campsite on a football field next to a main road, bus stop and temple. After picking their tents, they crossed the road and walked through a set of school gates.
Here they were greeted with garlands and flowers, and high fives as the children of Chuni Devi school welcomed them onto their playground knowing that this team was here to help start the process of a new school building consisting of six seismically safe classrooms.
They had a tour of the existing buildings and were shown the area where the new classrooms would be built, the children and teachers were all excited to meet these strangers from a foreign land.
The next morning, after a dubious nights sleep next to the road and temple (if the horns of the lorries going past weren’t waking you up, the bell at the temple was) the team donned their hard hats and gloves and headed over to our building site.
For the next three days, land was cleared, rocks were moved, the footings appeared overnight after a JCB had arrived – unfortunately they had been dug a couple of feet to one side of where they should...so the team had to jump in the holes and hollow out one side of each wall and then reinforce the bottom with some of the rocks that they had moved the day before. There were 16 of these holes - it was an exacting job ensuring the centre pin for each hole was in the right place according to the guide string that the engineers had put up over the site for us.
All during this process, classes were continuing, kids were running round the site and the sun was beating down on us all. It was hot, hard work. There were injuries, there was heat stroke, there were blisters – but there were laughs, bonding, lasting friendships made and a building site started.