A few Nepal images from Jan Harris

A small selection of the images that I brought home from Nepal.

In addition, the following link shows images taken by my nieces boyfriend.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/04/24/nepal-earthquake-one-year-anniversary-in-pictures/

Students at the schools sing the National Anthem and say their prayers with great vigour every morning.  One doesn’t look so enthusiastic though!

No 6w

Flying around Everest was just amazing.  I received a very twee certificate for my efforts saying “I may not have climbed Everest, but I touched it with my heart!”

No 5w

This image was taken about an hour away from the top of Poon Hill – a “hill” it certainly wasn’t standing at 3,210 meters!  We weren’t lost I was just asking as I had done a million times that day “How much further?”

No 4w

These were a couple of nursery children trying hard to work out how to do the victory sign which all the children seemed to know to do to please the tourists.

No 3w

Bungamati village was particularly badly damaged by the earthquake of April 2015.  The attitude of the locals is very much get on with life and lets not discuss the earthquake.  Although bricks have been provided by the government to rebuild, little building is taking place.  Old buildings need to be demolished first before the new ones can be erected but there seems to be little decision as to how this will be done.  Meanwhile families are still living in temporary shelters made of corrugated iron.

No 2w

Half a house

No 1w

 

Jan Harris returns from Nepal

Hello all,

I am home safe and well, although surprisingly I still feel a bit jet lagged.  What an experience!

The first few days were spent acclimatising and having introductions to the schools we would be working in.  What impressed me first off was the warmth and resilience of both the children and teachers.  Despite difficulties it appeared as though the attitude was business as usual with almost a reluctance to discuss the after effects of the earthquakes.  Kathmandu was less affected than i had imagined it would be.  The city was also a lot larger than I thought. Many buildings did look in a poor state but it was difficult to assess whether that was poor building design or as a result of the earthquakes.

The most obvious effect of the earthquakes were in the outlying villages, particularly Bungamati and some others I can’t remember the name of. Some homes were completely demolished while others looked practically untouched. Many families were now living in temporary shelters.  I took many photos and people were always so welcoming with very few saying “no picture” when I asked.  I did find it difficult sometimes being a “disaster tourist” and I put the camera down remembering these were real lives that had been effected and not just a photographic opportunity.  This particularly hit home when we visited the leprosy colony and hospital where many had lost limbs and some were in immense pain.

The group of 52 of us who travelled over carrying 20kgs of charity items each, were divided into teams.  1. Teaching. 2. Engineering. 3 Medical team. 4 Ministry team.  We also had a couple of people who were teaching older students about photography.  The students were given cameras (kindly donated by BPS members) to take home and take images of their homes and family and then return to discuss.  This gave us a great opportunity to explore the living conditions of many families.
I was part of the medical team.  We had separate stations to check height, weight, eyes, teeth, goitre, vitamin deficiency, worming etc.  If any of the children were found to have difficulties these were referred to local medical contacts and practitioners funded by the Birkdale school charity.

One one of these occasions when we were doing medical checks and teaching the wind started to pick up just as we were leaving and the children started heading home.  By the time we arrived back to our accommodation the storm had picked up with pictures blown off the walls and windows and doors smashed.  That night we received a phone call to say that part of the corrugated iron roof had come off the school we had been working in that day.  We were not too concerned but the next day we had a shock when we went to visit to do more work.  The whole roof which was attached to a large metal frame had been lifted tearing brickwork apart. It had landed in the playground where we had been working with the children.  We discovered a tornado had hit the school and if it had been an hour earlier many would definitely have been injured.

The head master talked with us saying the school would have to permanently close as there would be no money to fund repairs.  This would effect the education of 200 children.  After consultation with our engineering team the cost to repair the roof using local builders (given advise on how to make the construction stronger) was estimated at being £1,500.

You very kindly raised nearly this amount – thank you – so i donated this money to mend the roof and keep the school open.  I have attached a couple of photographs.  Your donations mean that these children can continue an education for which many travel miles.

Besides the work we did get a bit of play time.  I miraculously managed to climb Poon Hill which is 3193 metres high!  (Ben Nevis is only 1345 metres). This took a group of us 4 days constant climbing and of course descent.  Not sure which was worse!

We also did a bit of jungle safari but no sighting of tigers, only their poo!  And we had an exciting white water rafting experience where 3 of our number bounced out of the dinghies.  I was too heavy to bounce!  Being heavy has some advantages although there was a bit of shoving and pushing to get me on an elephant!

So an amazing trip and I would love to share more of my story and images if anyone is interested.  There is so much more I could tell you but you do not want to read a novel.  I am very happy to put on some slide shows – just let me know if you would like to attend.

I will keep you in touch with how your donations have helped the Noble Education System School at Lalitpur​.  I did try to send some images but unfortunately many emails bounced back.  You will just have to attend my slideshow if you are interested!

Warmest regards and a big thank you,

Jan Harris

13th March email from Jan

Hi All,

All packed and ready to go!  I just wanted to show you what I am taking out with me through your generosity on top of the money raised.  This and four cameras which work fine for the children to take pictures of the damage done by the earthquake so we can see if we can help.

Thank you and I will be in touch in a few weeks.

Jan x

Jan-H--1

 

 

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11th March email from Jan

Hi all,

I go to Sheffield to help with preparations on Monday and fly with 52 others on Tuesday 15th March to Kathmandu.

I achieved my challenge of no alcohol for 61 days on 8th March and it wasn’t as hard as I thought, although I did think I would lose several pounds and I might even get some brain cells restored but alas, I am still fat and thick!

Anyway that is of no consequence because I made a load of money through your generosity.  Thank you so much!

I sent a cheque to the school for £1500 which is amazing.  Thanks to my work colleagues who have donated and bought in items to take with me for the Nepalese children who lost so much in the earthquake.  Thanks too for the support and donations from my photographic club and all my other friends who have been so supportive and generous.

I will be in touch with a few photographs of where your money has been spent and a report, when I return home on 5th April.

Take care everyone,

Jan Harris

Janice Harris pre-Nepal trip information

NEPAL 2016

Post earthquake rebuilding & teaching

By Jan Harris

On 15th March 2016 I will be heading to Kathmandu with a group of 53 lower sixth formers and adults from Sheffield and other parts of the UK.

Earthquakes 2015

At 11:56am on Saturday 25th April 2015 a violent 7.8 magnitude earthquake occurred in the Gorkha region of Nepal, followed by countless aftershocks. Just over two weeks later, on 12th May, a major aftershock occurred, this time between Kathmandu and Mount Everest. The loss of life and destruction caused by these earthquakes and inevitable landslides was devastating.

A sudden thrust between the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates resulted in the worst earthquake the country has seen since 1934, and amidst the widespread geological chaos, Kathmandu moved 3 metres to the south in 30 seconds.

Tremendous pressure still exists under the fault line and the predictions are that the country will suffer future major tremors, Kathmandu being highly vulnerable to significant damage.  No one can predict when the next one is due.

International aid

How is it possible that $4 billion of international aid which poured into the country, still sits in the government’s coffers whilst politicians argue over who is going to be put in charge of the distribution and management of the funds?  Finally, at the end of December 2015, Sushil Gyewali was appointed the CEO of the National Reconstruction Authority.  It will still take many more months before families living under tarpaulin and tin will see improvements and progress in their local patch.  It is a shocking truth which compounds the misery.

Indian blockade

It is beyond me to understand the enormous complexities of politics in this part of the world, but in a nutshell it goes something like this.  In September 2015 Nepal’s parliament passed a new constitution.  Protests mainly by the Madhesi and other poorly represented groups in the Terai region which borders India took the form of blockades at a number of entry points between India and Nepal, the primary one being at the Birganj-Raxaul juncture.  Whilst violence and deaths occured at these blockades, Nepal was being starved of life-sustaining supplies, at a time when the effects from the earthquakes were already presenting an unimaginable humanitarian crisis.

The border blockade was not widely covered by the British media although I found some informative articles on the online Guardian site.

Nepal warns of humanitarian crisis as India border blockage continues

Nepal fuel crisis bites as winter brings fear to quake-hit areas – in pictures

Letter to David Cameron

In November 2015 Keith Brook wrote to David Cameron on the occasion of India’s Premier Mr Narendra Modi’s visit to the UK, and asked us to spread the word and contact our local MPs in order to take advantage of every possible opportunity to raise the blockade issues with Mr Modi.  MP, Mr Paul Blomfield, responded fully and generously and actively spoke to individuals within government and searched the House of Commons library to find two questions and answers posed to the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.

Keith warned us in November 2015 that if the blockade hadn’t lifted before we arrived, we might need to cancel the trip, as there were serious consequences of not getting fuel, food, medicines and many other essentials into the country. It all felt a bit touch and go, but then the news everyone had been waiting for was announced on 8th February 2016.

Seismic training

The University of Sheffield Earthquake Engineering Group teamed up with Birkdale School and offered a free six month course in Basic Training Course on Earthquake Engineering.

The course took place at the newly built Diamond Building in Sheffield, led by the Earthquake Engineering Group: Professor Kypros Pilakoutas, Dr Reyes Garcia, Dr Iman Hajirasouliha and Dr Zuhal Ozdemir, together with invited guests.  One of the guest speakers and ex-student, engineer Pramod Neupane, delivered a lecture via Skype from Kathmandu!

The aim of the course was to equip certain peole with basic earthquake engineering knowledge and practical skills on how small buildings can be strengthened. Our activities will include working with local builders, carrying out field work and geological surveys using GPS and photos to feed back to the department’s database, assessing building structures damaged in the earthquakes, assisting with sourcing traditional materials for reconstruction, considering local economy implications and weighing up the costs of reconstruction versus demolition.

Thanks go to Prof Pilakoutas and his team for offering such a brilliant course.

Teaching

A number of adults have also opted to teach English to Nepali students who willingly come into school during their Easter holidays to be taught by the Birkdale School students and adults. Jenny Loughlin (one of the adult members of the trip) has teamed up with Ewan, a professional photographer based in Sheffield, using art and photography as a focus for teaching. We are hoping to source a number of unwanted digital cameras which we can loan to the Nepali students, and ask them to take them back home to photograph their lives and families. Home for them now is likely to be a tent or a wriggly tin dwelling as most of the pupils’ homes collapsed in the earthquakes.

The abandoned palace we will call home

The International Club now occupies what was a 1920’s Rana Palace in the district of Lalitpur, Kathmandu.  It offers sports facilities and a swimming pool, and is a popular party and meeting venue, albeit it rather old fashioned and apparently pretty unmodernised.  Video footage of the earthquake showed how the water in the pool sloshed with such force that a third of it whooshed over the sides of the pool onto the surrounding terrace.  We will be staying on the third floor, sleeping on mats in multi-occupied rooms.  Some of the wiser members of the group who have been in previous years have opted for the sensible hotel option nearby!