We we arrived at the Kshamawati school on Saturday afternoon after a gruelling 7 hour bus journey from Kathmandu. I was sandwiched inbetween the luggage that could not sit on the roof of the bus. I manage to twist myself into a balanced position between the luggage and seat and doze for about an hour, but you can sleep anywhere if you are tired enough.
The road got smaller and smaller as we traversed through village after village from beautiful farming communities to villages of corrugated houses that were completely destroyed in the earthquake. For the final hour of the journey tarmac was non existent and the bendy road could only accept 1 vehicle at a time so we had to wait for a vehicle to come down the pass. We hit a point where even our hero of a driver couldn’t swing the bus round the bends, no matter how many point turns he tried. So off we jumped to walk the remaining part of the journey.
On the first glimpse of the school I was amazed how many of the building had been destroyed, the school, the admin block, the library all in heap on the ground. There are 3 classrooms that were still standing, corrugated roof, no windows plus some make shift shelters with tarpaulin. It was far worse than described.
Saturday evening was all about getting the tents up and settling into camp. Sunday we rose at 6:30 am to breakfast tea and a bowl of warm water. No showers here folks – glad you can’t smell me!
The school welcomed us with open arms with an assembly, singing and a presentation of marigold garlands, which the girls had made for us. There was so many we ended up with about 6 garlands each, but at least it will keep the evil spirits away.
After lunch we were assigned our group and task for the day. I was part of the timber crew with John and Robert. Our task was to go through as many stacks of wood and pull out timber that was 5 inches wide, in good shape, not many nails and could be used to build the windows and doors. The first problem was finding wood of the right size and heaving it to a place where we could cut it, this took us 2 hours. Once the wood was selected it needed to cut as follows
- 40 pcs 7′ long
- 40 pcs 5′ long
- 20 pcs 3′ long
The second problem was that there was only 1 saw in the whole camp. This meant that John was allocated the sawing and Robert and I had to carry the wood down 29 steps to area where we could stack the wood close to where we could possibly get electricity wired up for the next part of the process. Today the camp porters Ramesh and Sushba jumped in and helped, laughing at us for not being able to carry a 7′ X 5″ piece of wood on our own down some steps. By lunchtime today I am happy to report that I hauled the last of the wood down those 29 steps.
I spent the rest of the day straightening steel rods and digging in the trenches with the rest of the group.
I am absolutely exhausted, aching all over but thoroughly enjoying the experience. The group are fantastic, all getting stuck into their duties. Mainly Australians, 1 Kiwi, 1 German and 1 other Brit. The porters and kitchen crew are great and we are being fed until bursting each meal.
Sorry I cannot seem to download pics from the camera, I will have to work that out when I get back to Kathmandu.
Another 3 days hard labour, 4 until a shower to go but I know it is not the last I will see of those 29 steps.