Approximately one year after the earthquake, Eric Socia and Matt McKown made their way to Nepal. Wandering the streets of Kathmandu, the amount of destruction was staggering. In many other countries you would expect a lot more progress to have been made. However ,with a lack of infrastructure in a mountainous region as well as a change in government, progress had been slow going over the past 12 months. Many buildings were completely collapsed while others had visible cracks and structural damage. Seeing a lot of the temples so badly damaged or completely ruined was also heartbreaking. Bricks lined most streets and each day workers were seen manually rebuilding homes and temples with the supplies they had available to them.
After a quick tour of the damaged school and the new building location upon arrival, Eric and Matt picked up shovels and got to work. Each morning and evening they hiked approximately one mile from their host family’s house to the school site. Their days were spent completing the groundwork and foundation for the new four room school.
Everyone in the village had an extremely positive outlook on life and according to Matt, “if I had to use one word to describe the people of Nepal, it would be resilience.” Their optimism never wavered, and they knew that things would work out for them in the future. The entire trip was an eye-opening experience. Not only were they able to see the destruction first-hand, but they were also able to see the early stages of the rebuilding process.
Eric and Matt brought along 12 of their friends and colleagues to join them for this trip!
The 14 of us volunteered at the Jana Uddhar Lower Secondary School in Kavre.
We were all so eager to get involved and help the village in any way they could! We painted classrooms and the outside of the buildings, taught English to the kids in multiple different classrooms, laid rocks and mixed cement (by hand!) to build steps to the school and had time to play and bond with the kids.
The people in the village were incredibly welcoming and so happy to have us in their village helping them. On the last night, they had a big party to send us off, filled with music and dancing! It was truly an experience that we will never forget.
This was Eric and Matt’s third volunteer trip, and many other members’ second! Every year after we return and share our stories, more and more people want to come with us! It’s really an incredible thing.
Our goal of this trip and fundraising efforts was to help instill a sense of security and encouragement in the community, especially for the children, that would allow them to grow and realize their potential in the rapidly changing environment of Nepal.
Each day of the week-long trip, we worked on a school site (East Point Academy, which was completed in June 2018 and will educate nearly 450 kids!). The school is a four-hour, very bumpy terrain is the mildest ride from Kathmandu in a village called Melamchi.
Throughout the week, we switched between manual labor including building walls, painting, cleaning and sanding on the school grounds, to involving ourselves directly in the kids’ education. We met with kids ages four through 16, helping them with their daily lessons and spending time with them talking about their schooling and goals. Throughout the trip, we were touched by the incredible spirit of both the teachers and students.