A school that was destroyed in the 2015 Nepal earthquake has finally reopened, thanks in part to pupils and parents living 4,500 miles away in Lewes.
Lewes Old Grammar School (LOGS) joined hundreds of fundraisers to come up with almost all of the $52,000 (£40,000) needed to rebuild Shree Nawa Durga Lower Secondary School in Gorkha, one of the areas worst affected by the disaster.
This term more than 200 local children, aged from kindergarten to 14, were back in their classrooms following nearly two years studying in tents and tin huts.
Phil Palmer from the UK-registered charity Education and Health Nepal, which has worked hard to rebuild local services after the quake, said: “The old school was made of stone and clay, so really not safe, but the new building has a reinforced concrete frame and block walls so it’s much better able to withstand the next earthquake.
“Part of the reason it took so long to construct was because it’s very hard to build anything during the monsoon season, which runs from June to September every year.
“The children now have a dry, warm, safe environment to learn in and eight classrooms rather than the original five. They are even looking to expand now to become a higher secondary school. Long term they will have a computer room and, we hope, Internet.”
The school offers many children their only chance to escape the backbreaking work endured by generations of Nepalis.
“Farming is beautiful but hard,” says Phil. “The main two ways local Nepalis can get out of it is by entering the tourist industry or working in the Middle East, both of which require a high level of English and confidence and both of which the school can give.”
A £3,600 donation from LOGS and the school PTA was delivered through Lewes-based charity WorkingAbroad Projects where former LOGS pupil Aaron Jangaard helps co-ordinate volunteer efforts with Education and Health Nepal.
LOGS headmaster Robert Blewitt said: “It’s wonderful to see the children back at Shree Nawa Durga Lower Secondary School and we applaud all the volunteer efforts to keep their education going under such difficult conditions over the past two years.
“It’s so easy for us to take education for granted here in the West. Being involved in this project has made our own students realise just how precious education is and how hard some children have to fight to achieve it.”