Building Nirmala’s Future, Today
Shree Srijansil Secondary School sits just above the walking road in Sakhauri village of Sindhuli, on a space flattened to make room for three Transitional Learning Centers (and an older TLC-like structure that acts as the teacher’s room and storage), housing a total of 150 students.
When the big earthquakes of 2015 hit Nepal in April of that year, the school’s older buildings had sustained fatal damage. There was an elongated building on the ground just by the path that had 4 rooms, and a similar building just above it. Both had large fault-lines, and “stones that looked like they’d fall off the walls”, Chhali Kumari Gurmachhan, a teacher at the school, recounts.
Nirmala Gyangrish, the class topper from grade 8th, remembers school to have been a trying experience after the quake.
The monsoon that followed the earthquake that year, classes were intermittent depending on the rains. Winter was relatively easier — classes resumed on the grounds outside, or took shelter under the mango trees that dot the area.
But the summers were unbearable, it was so hot outside that the school and the community were forced to take a chance on the buildings. Classes continued inside the derelict buildings.
“It was very scary,” Nirmala says. Although by that time fears of the quake returning had subsided, the state of the buildings inspired dread on its own.
The school was then selected to receive three Transitional Learning Centers from the Restoring Education project in the August of 2016. The older buildings were demolished, the land was cleared, and by December the TLCs were up. Restoring Education is a partnership project between the EU and UNICEF with the Government of Nepal to build 650 Transitional Learning Centres across nine earthquake-affected districts. The project also supports educational recovery in Nepal with Early Childhood Development kits, recreation materials, and school supplies. In addition, the project also trains teachers in the use of kits, and on the ways of teaching in the post-quake educational scenario.
Classes finally returned to normal.
Nirmala was relieved to see these structures come up. She wants her studies to resume like the way it had been before the earthquake. Her teacher remarks that she is one of the most talented students she’s seen the area, and never misses classes or homework.
Nirmala shies at the compliment. But when asked if she has thought of what she’d do later on in life, she has a confident answer — she wants to go to Chhap, a town about two hours away, and like her sister, continue her studies. The only difference from her sister is that she studies Nepali, but Nirmala finds her forte in English, and has it pegged as her subject of choice when she grows older.