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Following the first earthquake on April 25, we worked hard with our local partners REED, to deliver medical aid, emergency shelter, clean drinking water and other critical supplies to those most in need in the regions of Kathmandu and the valleys beyond.
When the second earthquake hit on May 12 it hit the Everest or Solu Khumbu region hard and in communities where the AHF has been working for more than twelve years. The AHF supports over 300 schools in the lower Solu Khumbu and many were destroyed or damaged.
Our two volunteer disaster relief workers – Andrew Lock (AHF Ambassador) and Geoff Bartram - were already in the area on May 12, assessing damage from April 25 and distributing emergency supplies. They saw first-hand the enormous damage being wreaked. Of the 300-plus schools the AHF supports in this area, more than 200 have been assessed as being in urgent need of rebuilding or repair.
In the weeks following the team worked tirelessly to get emergency aid out to isolated, rural communities across the lower Solu Khumbu. We established two emergency medical clinics in the villages of Sotang and Kinja to service the region and established more than thirty temporary learning centres in attempt to get children back to school as quickly as possible. This not only gave them a respite from the devastation but also allowed their parents time to begin rebuilding their lives.
In addition, the AHF provided trauma counselling for the many families, teachers and children in need of psychosocial support. This included creating safe learning and play spaces for children who are suffering from trauma and can participate in art, music and games as a means of expressing their response to this experience and coping with the aftermath.
As part of our earthquake response, a group of previous AHF Art Award recipients travelled to the Solu Khumbu to provide trauma counselling through a series of art workshops to over 300 students and teachers from across the region. Students used art to express their trauma and were invited to understand more about their relationship to their environment through these workshops.
AHF Ambassador Andrew Lock distributes aid to earthquake-affected areas of the Solu Khumbu
Whilst the emergency and planning phases of our response now over, we are working hard to implement a major rebuild program based on the over-riding principle of ‘building Nepal back better’. We are working in collaboration with Australian structural engineers and the Ministry of Education in Nepal and have developed low cost, earthquake resilient school building designs.
Phase 1 of our rebuild program commenced in November (at the conclusion of the monsoon) and over the twelve month project life cycle, we aimed to:
One of the Temporary Learning Centres established by the AHF
We are also working hard to strengthen our existing programs in the region. As families face the loss of livelihoods and homes, our Teacher Training and Quality Education program is needed now more than ever with an increased number of parents requesting scholarship support and schools in desperate need of resources and supplies.
We are very proud to have the continued support of The Footprints Network. This has been integral to making these achievements possible, and we look forward to continue to work together in rebuilding school communities in the Solu Khumbu region in the future.