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Restoring education in Nepal

A year after two massive earthquakes struck Nepal within two weeks, killing more than 8,700 people, some of the million-plus children who were left in need of urgent assistance still live in fear.

“I don`t want to stay at my house alone because I am afraid the earthquake might hit us again,” says 9-year-old Binisha, who lives with her family in a rural village of Sindhupalchowk district, where almost every home was damaged or destroyed by the natural disaster.

Binisha`s house partially collapsed in the April 25th earthquake, the worst Nepal has experienced in 80 years, and totally collapsed after the second earthquake on 12 May.

While Binisha`s family survived, there were casualties in her small village, where 80 per cent of the population are poor. After losing their home, Binisha and her family spent time in a shelter tent on local school grounds, before moving to a temporary makeshift house.

Yet it was not just homes left in ruins. More than 25,000 classrooms throughout Nepal were destroyed, and another 10,000 left in need of repair.

While schools officially reopened on 31 May, almost one million children were unable to resume their education and return to a regular routine, an important process in helping children overcome their trauma in emergency situations.

This is why ChildFund supported the construction of 60 Temporary Learning Spaces (120 classrooms) on 32 school sites across Sindhupalchowk and Ramechhap districts, enabling students in these earthquake-affected villages to return to school within weeks.

Built with local materials, the shelters are designed to provide a secure learning space that will last for up to two years. Severe winter weather conditions saw ChildFund provide additional support by insulating classroom floors, walls and roofs to keep students warm.

ChildFund is now working with the government to plan and coordinate long-term recovery work around school reconstruction and renovation, so that children can eventually return to a safe and permanent school environment.

Education and protection have been key priorities of ChildFund`s emergency response in Nepal, where children are still recovering from the trauma of losing homes, schools and loved ones.

For children like Binisha, school is a place where they can feel safe, play with their friends and find some stress-relief, as well as continue their learning. When classes resumed at her local Temporary Learning Space in June, Binisha, who hopes to become a nurse, saw some light after dark times: “I was so happy and thought, I can study again!`”

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