An update from Shane and the village of Jatan, one of the very first areas our relief efforts reached.
Jatan is a village close to the epicenter of Gorkha. It lies in between two mountains, halfway up one side of a valley, with the wide green river below and the high peaks above. Almost all the buildings in the village were demolished: of the forty to fifty houses, only two remain standing. One building that was damaged but did not fall down was the local school.
Natalie and Shane visited Jatan soon after the first earthquake. This was their second visit. “Originally we went up there to take pictures and look at the place where we wanted to build Khandro‘s house. We wanted to see how the village had progressed since our first visit – it was basically a scouting mission to see what help the villagers needed now. We went with someone with a lot of experience in building, a photographer, and an avid blogger.
“Natalie is really good with kids”, explained Shane. “Very soon she had a whole crew of children running around with her and laughing…The school secretary asked us to take pictures of the school.The building was actually well constructed originally using a lot of rebar steel bars to hold up roof. Now the foundations are badly cracked and the whole building needs to be demolished and rebuilt. As we took pictures of all the students and school, we began to realise that the school is not just for learning – it serves as a community meeting place and place for festivals. It is central to the life of a village.That’s where Natalie came up with her plan to rebuild the school”.
The school complex is comprised of nine rooms in a one large building and a further small buildings that serve 200 children from 5-16 years old. Children come from all the villages around, from above Jatan to way down by the river.
When the team got back to Boudha they met with Phakchok Rinpoche. He was delighted to hear of the project and happily offered help – with the provision that the plan is agreed by the three local wards (local government administration units, covering around one thousand people) and that a central government permit is obtained.The school is a government school.
“Rinpoche liked the idea that we will be in the village helping with the construction. Personally I really like doing demolition! I have a lot of experience, I’ve been doing it my whole life”, says Shane. “ We can’t start building until we have permission, but we can demolish the old school. It’s a great location, a good investment.”
Natalie too is working directly with the villagers, joining the demolishing project as well as finding money for the project.
“Fundraising started among family and friends for an estimate of $8000, although that estimate will depend on the material used. There is some material like metal roofing and so on that can be reused from the previous school building. We want to start immediately, to get children out of the monsoon. The vision is based on wanting to get children back into a routine, as they are currently living more like in a refugee camp. All families are out of the rain and they are working on rebuilding their homes piece by piece. Village people will need to be involved in the school project as well and take responsibility”
CGLF will be helping Natalie, Shane, and the children of Jatan with advice and material for rebuilding.