No school in Syabru

Last week I met Gonpo Wangchuk-la, my friend and headmaster of Shermay Wangphel Primary School. The school is part of the settlement in Syabrubesi, by the trailhead of the famous Langtang trek. I read a letter he wrote to me:

“I feel lucky and unlucky from this huge earthquake. I feel unlucky because all the building is damaged and Mr. Lobsang Dawa (teacher) was injured by falling stone on his head when he was jumped from his room to the ground. I feel lucky because all the villagers are safe and esp. I got a chance to handle all my students to their concern parents without any injuries.”

It was lunch time for the children when the great earthquake of April 25 shook the ground and destroyed much of the school and the village. There have been many aftershocks since then, and the families are still living in tarps in the fields. Since the village lies next to the river at the bottom of a steep slope, rocks and stones fall with every tremor or rain.

The school is lost—the damage is so extensive and the location makes it vulnerable to future landslides. Gonpo-la is already in Kathmandu trying to admit the children to a public school there. But the students face a challenge—it is expensive to study in Kathmandu.