Since the 2015 quake local help has diminished due to rebuilding of homes and community infrastructure.
By Elsie James, Nepal Country Manager, Medical Mercy Canada
In January 2014, I was introduced to the Founders, Teachers and Students of Swabalambi Primary School for Deaf Children, in the small community of Murali Banjyang, Dhading District, about a 4 ½ hr drive west of the capital city Kathmandu, Nepal.
At that time, the school was in temporary quarters comprised of the brick shell of an unfinished farmhouse, loaned to them by a local family. Concrete floors, bare brick walls, open, sashless windows….the children literally slept, ate and were taught in the same room. Although basic, that room was tidy and clean and a feeling of warmth came from the obvious love and concern of the teachers and big smiles on the faces of the children.
Opened in 2012, the school now had had 34 profoundly deaf students, aged 5 to 14 years enrolled in grades 1 to 4. The Founding Principal, Ram Adhikhari, is also profoundly deaf and his wife is hearing impaired. Three of the four teachers are also deaf. They know the challenges. Prior to the establishment of Swabalambi, the nearest school for a deaf child was in Kathmandu. Families could not afford to send their special needs children to a Boarding School in the City. Local Teachers did not have the skills to teach them.
In 2013, a local farmer donated land on which to build a school. Now, the foundation was in and walls for four rooms were up, thanks to some local Supporters, but their meager financial resources were already exhausted. It was obvious they needed help.
In the following 12 months, Medical Mercy Canada and our Donors contributed $25,000 to the construction of the new school. Classes moved to the new, still unfinished building, in November, 2014.
A few months later disaster struck! On April 25, 2015, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit north central Nepal followed by a 7.3 quake just two weeks later and more than 400 aftershocks. Nine thousand people died and more than 23,000 were seriously injured.. More than 3 Million people were left homeless. The good news, the new school had only minor damage – but all Medical Mercy Canada’s Nepal budget for the next 18 months had to be redirected to emergency relief and rebuilding.
In the meantime, Swabalambi School for Deaf Children continued to operate with only the first floor rooms, showers & toilet building completed. Despite this, today, sixty-four children are enrolled and have a chance to become educated, productive adults. Still the Classrooms and Library on the second level plus the Kitchen and Dining Hall on the rooftop, have bare bare brick walls, concrete floors, open windows and a roof but little else. Refocusing our effort, this year, we hope to finish the job, if the money can be raised.
A variety of fundraising efforts are underway and planned during the year. Making you aware of Swabalambi’s story is one step. People cannot understand, appreciate or feel passionate about, what they don’t know.
If you would like to be part of the “Solution for Swabalambi”, donations may be made to Medical Mercy Canada, a Registered Canadian Charity. Tax Receipts are issued for donations of $20 or more.
If supporting this project through ATB, please specify Swabalambi Deaf School in the comments to directly fund this project. Medical Mercy Canada thanks you for your kind generosity.