Wednesday, June 3, 2015

... and this is just one of the schools...

These are pictures from 29th May, two days before the government's declared date for children in the earthquake impacted districts to go Back to School.  The twin quakes -- the 7.8 magnitude earthquake of 25th April 2015 and the 7.3 magnitude aftershock of 12th May-- turned many schools into rubble.  Most schools in the rural areas of the country, including the  Shree Siddhi Kamaladevi Secondary School of Pipaldanda in Sindhupalchowk were constructed with mud and mortar.  Most of these came down with the first quake.  In Sindhupalchowk district alone only 34 of the 4962 classrooms in 691  schools (of them 34  private)  were deemed to be free of damage.  A total of 2746 were said to be fully damaged and 1273 had major damage.
The school is built on a circular plot of land beneath a huge pipal tree. The blue tarp see to the left corner is where the Child Friendly Centre (CFS) had been set up
 Slogan painted on the outer wall of the school building talks about the need to keep the earth clean by building toilets in every home. Sindhupalchowk was on the verge of declaring itself free of open defecation, until the earthquake played havoc and knocked down most of the toilets that had been built across the district.
 Compared to some other schools in other areas, at least this school still had its roof and main structure standing
 Temporary toilets set up in the school premises for use by children coming to the Child Friendly Space
This part of the school that seems to be have been built later with concrete pillar was more intact. Yet some parts of this wall painted with pictures of imminent personalities collapsed ...
 A lone harmonium stands in the middle of a room that must have been a arts and craft room
 Another building added at another time has metal truss that seem to have withstood the jolts of the quake, yet the partition walls and outer walls caved in
 Further down the same block
 Looking across the yard. The newly built and yet damaged District Hospital of Charikot (white buildings) can be seen in the backdrop
 In front of the southern damaged blocks can be seen logs and branches brought in by locals to build a Temporary Learning Centre
 One can imagine if it was not a  Saturday, and thus a school holiday,  what would have happened to children either sitting on those benches, crammed shoulder to shoulder. Or what would have happened to them even if they found time, to duck cover or hold under the benches
 Southern end of the eastern block
 Students said that this used to be a multimedia room.  The cushions were placed on the carpeted floor for students to watch educational videos
 A lone slide in the middle of the yard
 Remains of the science  / resource room with maps strewn all over
the windows hang dramatically like buntings across a 'rubbled' classrooms 
 The length of the eastern block.. from inside...
... and outside.  80- percent of the houses in the district were damaged.  Every turn on the dirt road we took brought us to areas that had been leveled by the temblor. In the background in the hills once can see the white tents where people of that damaged settlement are taking shelter in
 Cracked remains of a blackboard
 The meeting hall
 Damaged artwork
 Half broken promise of respecting children rights in the new Constitution
 The eastern block from the outside.
... And this is just one of the nearly 600 damaged schools in Sindhupalchowk district alone. Across the 14 districts that took the worst brunt of the earthquake, over 32,000 classrooms were totally damaged, posing a big challenge for the early resumption of school.
write up and photos by Rupa Joshi

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