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Rebuild Nepal: The difference you've made

Nepal faces a long road to recovery following the massive earthquakes that caused such devastation in 2015.

Your generous response to our emergency appeal - to the tune of £675,000, has already helped us make a difference to thousands of vulnerable people whose lives were shattered by the disaster. 

"I have been blown away, both by the incredible efforts of volunteers, and the results we are already seeing thanks to the generosity of caring VSO supporters who allowed us to double the scale of our work in the country when it mattered most."
Sean Vincent, VSO South Asia regional director

Keeping children learning

temporary classroom in Nepal

Childrenplay outside a temporary learning centre

The earthquakes reduced schools to rubble, threatening to deprive children of an education and their best chance of escaping poverty. One of our priorities was to get children learning again and to help them regain a sense of normality following the trauma of the earthquake and aftershocks.

With your support, VSO has:

  • Established 100 temporary learning centres, enabling 17,000 children to keep on learning while their schools are rebuilt. The centres are equipped with teaching and learning materials for teachers and children, and have separate toilet facilities for girls and boys. 
  • Distributed essential teaching and learning supplies to 7,869 children at 75 schools.
  • Provided psycho-social support for 11,250 children, parents and teachers.
  • Trained 267 teachers working in temporary learning centres; trained 91 community mobilisers and youth volunteers who are supporting children in communities by encouraging them to attend school and helping with homework

Girls back in classrooms

Sharmila, student helped by VSO after earthquakes

Sharmila, student helped by VSO 'Sisters for Sisters' project after earthquakes

It’s made a huge difference to girls like from rural families, like Sharmila. Even before the earthquakes hit, these girls were facing high drop-out rates – 40% are married by the age of 14. Making sure girls finish their education is vital to overcoming the cycle of poverty.

Traumatised by the earthquake and the devastation it caused to her surroundings, Sharmila stayed at home, too frightened to go back to school. She was in danger of missing out on her education and facing a lifetime of certain poverty.

That was when VSO stepped in. Project volunteer Ashmita worked closely with Sharmila, offering psychological support and slowly helping her to regain her courage

“Ashmita and my teachers say that we are safe in the temporary learning centre,” says Sharmila, “So I don’t feel afraid to go to school anymore”.

Thanks to your support, Sharmila is now in a safe and supportive learning environment, where she can move on from her trauma and continue the education that can give her a better future.  

Relieving the strain on health systems

Igor Fierens, VSO volunteer doctor in Nepal

Igor Fierens, volunteer doctor in Nepal 

Hospitals and rural health clinics – those that were still able to function – came under enormous pressure in the aftermath of the disaster.

So far, with your support, we have sent out four teams of international volunteer emergency health professionals to go into four of the worst affected districts – Dhading, Nuwakot, Gorkha and Ramechhap – to help relieve the strain.

Each emergency team consists of a volunteer obstetrician, paediatrician, public nurse and anaesthetist and works with Nepali teams to provide primary healthcare, particularly for women, newborn babies and children. To date, VSO teams have supported training for over 300 nurses.

Dhading district was the first to have a VSO team assigned to their health service. Since September, the volunteers have provided on-the-job training for hospital and healthcare staff. More than 400 pregnant women and new mothers, and over 500 children have benefited as a result, and a neonatal care unit has been set up – saving the lives of vulnerable newborn babies.

Answering the call of duty

Igor Fierens was working as a doctor in Great Ormond Street children’s hospital when the earthquake struck. Having previously volunteered with VSO in South Africa and Eritrea, Igor answered our urgent call for volunteers. Today, he’s working as part of the VSO health team in Ramechhap district, 180km south-east of Kathmandu.

Igor has been sharing his medical expertise with local healthcare staff, including providing training in how to resuscitate newborn babies, overseeing the construction of a postnatal ward for sick and premature babies and running a vaccination clinic to help prevent disease taking hold among vulnerable families.

But one of the things he’s most proud of is his part in repairing a broken ambulance: “You can imagine how difficult it was for heavily pregnant women, about to give birth, having to walk up the hill to the clinic. This was also very risky. Now we can get them here quickly, giving them and their babies a much better chance of a safe delivery.”

National Youth Volunteers mobilisation

Children Nepal

After the earthquake a large number of young people wanted to contribute to relief efforts. In response VSO Nepal launched a youth volunteer mobilisation project in four affected districts in collaboration with the Nepalese Government and ICS partners, Skillshare Nepal and Restless Development. The project mobilised 52 volunteers, aged between 18 and 25, living and working in earthquake affected communities for three months.

Achievements of this project include:

  • Built 4 temporary learning centers reaching almost 2,000 school children - and helped rebuild community infrastructure.
  • Conducted awareness programs on disaster preparedness and WASH that reached 10,000 community members with a special focus on girls and women
  • Ran health camps to provide health care in rural communities.
  • Built a water supply system in Lamjung. Volunteers also taught water purification techniques to schools and communities.
  • Organised football and volleyball tournaments which helped females deal with trauma and return to normal life.
  • 19,884 beneficiaries received health care related training including: WASH training, disaster relief & response,  psycho-social support and first aid training. 

Helping the information flow

VSO Volunteer Jessica is working with OCHA and Save the Children to support the relief efforts. Suraj Shakya

VSO Volunteer Jessica is working with OCHA ictured here] and Save the Children to support the relief efforts.

The Sindhupalchok district to the east of Kathmandu was among the areas most badly affected with over 3,500 lives and 63,885 homes lost plus massive damage to schools, health centres and other buildings.

At the height of the initial emergency response over 200 non-governmental organisations (NGO’s) were working on the relief effort in Sindhupalchok -  in addition to government agencies, community organisations and individual volunteers.

Coordinating all these relief efforts is a colossal task. Within days of the second major quake VSO volunteer Jessica Stanford had left her regular placement and started working with Save the Children to coordinate and manage information flow within the district.

In recognition of our contribution VSO has been asked to create a National Disaster Recovery Coordination Secretariat to bring synergy, coherence and standardisation to the coordination effort and information management systems for the recovery phase. Moving forward VSO will coordinate the work of all NGO’s working across all thematic sectors in the 14 most affected districts.

What now?

We are hugely grateful to all our supporters for making this work possible. However, there is still so much to do to help the people of Nepal to recover in the long term.

We are continuing to recruit and support emergency health teams in Nepal, and with your support we can send even more desperately needed health volunteers to help Nepal build back better.

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