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Let the Children Dream

Samaritan’s Purse is rebuilding schools in Nepal destroyed by the deadly 2015 earthquake.

Story by Samaritan’s Purse April 20th, 2017

A Loss of Innocence

As 10-year-olds, Dolma and Lawangu shouldn’t have come so close to death.

These sweet girls and good friends have fun playing outside with other children in their remote Nepali village. They both enjoy school, and one of their favorite subjects is math. They’re working hard in school to learn English, and while a bit shy to practice, understand more than they like to let on.

But in seconds, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake stripped their lives of normalcy and innocence.

Many Nepali families were working in their fields or gardens when the earthquake hit.
But in seconds, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake stripped their lives of normalcy and innocence.
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Teachers and students are ready to welcome Samaritan's Purse staff members to their school.

Dolma was helping wash clothes. Lawangu was eating lunch. The quake, the worst to hit Nepal in 80 years, forced simple Saturday activities to be abandoned in haste.

The girls fled from their homes to open ground in nearby fields. They returned home to piles of rubble, as did nearly all 110 families in the village.

Their school, the only one in the village, was also wiped out.

Dolma and Lawangu are  friends who enjoy learning English and math in school.

Transforming Classrooms

Two years have passed since that day, and both Dolma and Lawangu’s families, like most in their village, still live in temporary shelters.

Their school building is also a temporary structure that’s cramped with nearly 70 children squeezed into a few small rooms. The tin walls and roof are unbearably hot during summer and do little to keep out winter’s bitter cold.

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Many students in Nepal still attend school in temporary shelters.

Dolma and Lawangu’s fifth grade class often meets outside in a dirt and gravel area because there’s not enough space inside.

Samaritan’s Purse is rebuilding Dolma and Lawangu’s school in Sindhupalchowk District, one of the hardest hit areas, and we’re also rebuilding schools throughout Nepal. Nearly 32,000 schools were damaged or destroyed in the earthquake.

A teacher holds class outside because the temporary school building does not have enough space inside for all the children.
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Some children walk hours to reach the nearest school.

Construction isn’t easy in these remote villages. Often, the only way in and out of villages where we’re rebuilding is by helicopter or trekking for several days.

Yet, the scenery in Nepal’s villages is grand. Formidable, towering mountain peaks with a backdrop of gleaming blue skies. Vibrant green farmland and terraced gardens are carefully cultivated along the rise and fall of steep mountain ridges.

Samaritan's Purse is rebuilding schools in areas hardest-hit by the deadly quakes.
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Hope is Coming

The death toll from the 2015 earthquake ultimately surpassed 8,800. Yet, had the deadly quake hit any day but Saturday—the only day schools and businesses are closed—the staggering death toll would have climbed even higher.

“Had school been in session, it’s unlikely anyone would have survived,” said principal Dil, whose school is also in Sindhupalchowk. “There was nothing left of the village.”

There was nothing left of the school, either, except rubble.

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Only a skeleton frame remains of a school building destroyed in the earthquake.
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“Had school been in session, it’s unlikely anyone would have survived,” said principal Dil. “There was nothing left of the village.”
Twelve-year-old Santoshi wants to be a teacher when she grows up. Samaritan’s Purse is rebuilding her school.

About 130 children, most from farming families, attend the school.

Some children walk two or three hours each way to school. When extreme weather settles in during monsoon season and winter, children often stay at a small boarding house near the school during the week.

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Samaritan’s Purse is rebuilding Dil’s school so the children can move out of a temporary shelter that’s not conducive to learning.

Torrential rains pound so loud on the tin roof that its distracting to students. The shelter is very crowded, and teachers don’t have anywhere to display fun, creative teaching materials.

School construction is underway in principal Dil”s village.

Dil has worked at the school 10 years and cares about his students. Many are from poor, hard-working families struggling to care for their children. Even Dil’s two sons are seeking work outside the village.

Dil said the presence of Samaritan’s Purse in the village has changed things.

“There was no hope [after the earthquake],” he explained. “With the new school, there is hope for the future.”

Principal Dil holds a photo of his school building before it was destroyed.
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Samaritan’s Purse is working to provide access to clean water in areas where we are rebuilding schools and homes.
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Healing at the Epicenter

Twenty-year-old Alina teaches at a small school in one of Gorkha’s many villages. Gorkha District, about 50 miles northwest of Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital, was thrust into international attention as the site of the devastating quake’s epicenter.

It’s estimated that more than 90 percent of schools in Gorkha, as well as Sindhupalchowk, were destroyed.

Teacher Alina is only 20 years old, but she is already making an impact in the lives of  children.
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“I have a passion to teach,” she said. “I’m glad to teach in my community.”
Alina’s school is nestled among stunning mountain terrain. It’s the only one in her remote village.

Nepal already had a concerning dropout rate prior to the earthquake, with 1.2 million children between ages 5 and 16 having dropped out or never attended school. About 35 percent of the country’s population is illiterate.

Kind, patient, devoted teachers like Alina want to change that. Alina has seven brothers and sisters, and her family barely earns a living farming. She has to walk one hour to school but doesn’t complain.

“I have a passion to teach,” she said. “I’m glad to teach in my community.”

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The first school Samaritan’s Purse has rebuilt in Nepal.

Alina taught in a temporary shelter until Samaritan’s Purse rebuilt the school building on the property where it once stood.

Our staff participated in the school dedication ceremony last month.

“Our goal is not just education, but bringing health, healing, and vitality to your community,” said Samaritan’s Purse Country Director Melody Moshkowski. “We hope this school will help heal the wounds from the great earthquake.”

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Melody Moshkowski, Samaritan's Purse Nepal Country Director, participates in a ribbon cutting eremony.
“We hope this school will help heal the wounds from the great earthquake.”
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Melody encouraged families to use the school building as a place for the entire village to host family and community events and to create special memories.

The new Gorkha school, and other schools Samaritan’s Purse is building, will help provide children with an opportunity to learn and to fulfill their full potential.

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We pray the schools are places where children feel safe and loved, and where they are invited to imagine, explore, and dream.

Please pray for the children of Nepal. Pray they will come to know God’s love and purpose for their lives.

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“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10
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