Model Village Project
The Model Village Project (MVP) is a RMF pilot initiative in Nepal that aims to contribute to the improvement of education, health and livelihoods of the community in Gorkha through support of the schools, health posts and other community-based institutions. The project is based in Arupokhari, one of the villages in Gorkha, the epicenter of the April 25 earthquake in Nepal. RMF started supporting the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the village.
The project was initiated with bottom up planning, and we are taking an integrated approach where project components have been designed as per the needs of the community and in consultation with the local people. An integrated approach is sought wherein instead of isolated interventions; support is being provided on a holistic basis that includes targeting education and health sector whilst also contributing to enhancing livelihoods and economic empowerment of the local people.
The project intends to work with multiple partners, including various ministries of the Government of Nepal (GoN) such as Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP), Ministry of Education (MoE), local NGOs, district and local level government officials, community leaders and other stakeholders.
Gorkha district was the epicenter of the earthquake where over 91% of houses have been irrevocably damaged, along with over 95% of schools and 90% of health facilities. Arupokhari is a remote village in Northern Gorkha, which is close to the epicenter of the April 25th Mega Earthquake. Out of 1,350 households, 1,226 houses have been completely destroyed in this village.
Map of Arupokhari VDC:
Arupokhari VDC, in relation to Barpak, the epicenter:
Arupokhari in the aftermath of the Mega Earthquake:
Support to the School
Sarswati Peace School is located in Arupokhari Village Development Committee (VDC)-1. The catchment area of the school is 5 villages, each with a population of about 6,000. The school admitted 200 students, ages 4-15, for the academic year 2014-15 for classes ranging from preschool till grade 6 and caters especially to children from marginalized backgrounds.
The school aims to provide quality education to the children whilst using modern technology and through qualified teachers who are usually hired from the city areas. They already have a library and a computer lab and they focus on the use of projectors, videos for effective ways of learning. However, the earthquake has damaged most of the five buildings of the school and the children are forced to continue learning in temporary shelters. Similarly, the teachers are also compelled to live inside one of the school buildings which hasn’t been completely damaged but still isn’t very safe in light of the continuing tremors.
Damaged school buildings and temporary learning centers:
Support to the Health Facilities
Almost all of the health facilities of the village have been completely or partially damaged due to the earthquake.
Damaged Health Facilities and temporary structures:
RMF Programme Coordinator in Nepal, along with representatives from the local NGO visited Arupokhari Gorkha from 16th July, 2015 to 19th July, 2015.
The following are some of the highlights of the visit:
- Meeting with the Chief District Officer of Gorkha: The team had a meeting with the CDO to ensure GoN’s ownership and support to the project. The CDO provided commitment to extend their cooperation and stated that support to schools and health posts are very critical given the enormity of the devastation.
- Meeting with school management committee, community leaders and other stakeholders: A meeting was organized with the school management committee of Saraswati Peace School to get an understanding of the needs, opportunities, constraints and challenges facing the children, teachers and other relevant stakeholders. RMF team met other community people to get an overview of the situation after the earthquake and to understand the immediate and long-term needs of the community.
Visit to the District Administration Office, Gorkha and meeting with the Chief District Officer:
Meeting with the Community:
c. Site visit with the team of engineers and technicians and orientation to the local construction workers: One of the areas where RMF is supporting is in the reconstruction of Saraswati Peace School. Since this area lies in a faulty line, a pre-fab building had been proposed as an appropriate fit for the school. An order had been placed to construct a pre-fabricated building.
RMF team, along with a team of engineers and technicians visited the site wherein the experts provided guidance and technical expertise to the locals on preparing the foundation for the pre-fab building. Instead of having technicians from Kathmandu lead the construction works, we wanted the local community people to get involved and engaged which will not only contribute to their livelihoods but will also ensure community ownership and lead; this is also in line with our strategy to use local resources to the extent possible and ensure skills transfer to the local communities. Similarly, with an aim to enable local laborers/ construction workers lead on constructing similar sites in future as well, this orientation session was organized.
The materials for preparing the base for the building will also be procured and transported from Gorkha itself. The building shall be ready and fully functional within a month.
RMF will also be supporting the retrofitting and repairing of the other school buildings, which we started to prepare. Similarly, RMF will be supporting the school to deliver quality education to the children from poor economic and marginalized backgrounds through the upgrade of the computer labs and library. For example, RMF is planning to donate some laptops to the school. We are also in discussion to provide long-term support to the school such as through teachers’ placements and salary support.
Orientation to the local construction workers:
- Meeting with the Health Officials at one of the Health Clinics: During discussions with the community, it was raised that one Health Clinic that has been providing key services to the community is going to be closed down soon. The community raised that in absence of this clinic, seeking urgent health care would get become very challenging for the communities.
“Even for something as simple as plasters during fractures or getting stiches for minor cuts, we have to walk for several hours to reach a health post in Gorkha Bazar. Had there been a health facility where we could get quality services even for minor health problems, it would be a great help, even lifesaving at times, for the community people.” – Ishwor Adhikari, AruPokhari VCD, Ward no-1, Gorkha.
Following the discussions, the RMF team visited the Health Clinic where it was found that this clinic has been completely damaged by the earthquake and is currently operating through a transient structure. The staff explained that the Health Clinic caters to patients from the surrounding VDCs as well as patients from Tandrang, Chanaute and Dewrali, and they provide services to approximately 10-15 patients every day.
- The prefab building will be installed within one month and the remaining buildings will be retrofitted.
- RMF will be taking over the Health Clinic and will be contributing to provide quality and essential health care to the rural population of the surrounding VDCs.
- RMF will be supporting to improve the quality of education through provision of laptops and improvement of library, among others.
- An MOU with the CDO, DAO of Gorkha is under discussion and will be signed soon.
- RMF is recruiting a local project coordinator who will be based in Gorkha and will support project implementation whilst ensuring regular monitoring and evaluation of the project activities and results.
Orphanage Support and Support to the Nepal Children’s Organisation
Nepal Children’s Organisation (NCO) is a Non-Governmental, autonomous, non-profitable and self-governing organization established in 1964 AD and is also popularly known as Balmandir (The Children's Temple). NCO works for Nepalese children by protecting and promoting their rights as well as by providing residential care to children at risk, enabling them to survive and succeed.
NCO has extensive programs for childcare and development with wide-ranging geographical coverage in Nepal. It focuses on childcare and education for orphans, abandoned and conflict affected children; rehabilitation of dependent children of prisoners; promotion of children's rights; national and international adoption of children; educational support to children from low-income families; and strengthening the capacity of its nationwide network.
NCO is home to children from varying ethnic-social backgrounds and from different age groups, ranging from newborns, infants to adolescents and adults. They also provide shelter and support to differently-abled children who have been abandoned by their families.
RMF is supporting NCO to improve the current conditions of the children at their orphanages.
Following the earthquake, the main centre/home of the NCO based at Naxal was heavily damaged and has become inhabitable. Children, who had been used to having open spaces and had been knowing this centre as the only place to call home, were compelled to relocate to two of NCO’s centers in Kathmandu. This is difficult not only for the children but also for house-mothers and other staffs who have also relocated to these temporary shelters with crammed spaces. All of these ordeals have added to the trauma of children who already have lost their parents and families in the first place. As the biggest children organization in Nepal, the Government has also placed many of the children who lost their parents during the earthquake at these centers creating challenges in integration and in addressing psychological issues.
In this light, RMF seeks to be a part of the overall support to the Nepal Children’s Organisation to help improve the living conditions of the children, and in particular improve the health, nutrition, sanitation, and hygiene status of the children. In particular, RMF is providing financial and logistic support to:
- Improve the health status of the infants and children.
- Improve the nutritional status of the infants and children.
- Enhance knowledge and awareness on health and nutrition for operating staff and children of shelter homes.
- Provide psycho trauma and psychosocial support and counseling at the NCO children’s homes.
- Improve the toilets at each of NCO’s children’s homes to increase the sanitation and overall hygiene of the NCO children’s homes, including access for children who are differently abled.
- Rebuild a room for infants.
- Provide health and sanitation trainings for house-mothers and children at the NCO children’s homes.
- Remodel or rebuild a playground for children at the NCO children’s homes.
- Create a room for children who are differently abled.
The damaged NCO building and current temporary shelters:
Two qualified staff nurses have been hired, each of whom is now based at one of the two centers. They will be providing and supervising integrated nursing care and activities to the children at NCO, including infants, young children, adolescents, and children with special needs. They will be attending to and managing children in the respective NCO centre/s assigned and will be undertaking day-to-day clinical duties, i.e. walk-in clinic, emergencies, pre-placement and periodic medical examinations. They will also be devising training materials and will take the lead on conducting trainings and capacity building to the NCO staffs and house-mothers for effective health service delivery at the orphanages.
As part of their responsibilities, the nurses are also working on creating the children’s profiles to document the details and monitor progress. Lack of documented details of the children seems to be an issue at the NCO which the nurses will help addressing. They will also lead and conduct timely assessments including physiological, psychological, developmental, and sociocultural factors, including signs of abuse or neglect.
An American psychologist with extensive experience of working with children in traumatic situations will be giving presentations on resilience and conducting sessions with children and NCO staffs. This event (2-day workshop/ session) is scheduled to be organized in the week of August 3rd and is part of RMF’s support to address psycho trauma and psychosocial issues of the children at NCO. RMF provided the first installments of the financial support to the NCO, which will be used in construction of toilets, development of a sick room and purchasing medicines.
Nurses at the NCO and Dr. Ron Palomares (Psychologist) visiting the Centre:
Gender segregated toilets and a toilet for children with special needs will be built at each of NCO’s children’s homes to improve the sanitation and overall hygiene of the NCO children’s homes, including access for children who are differently abled.
Provide health and sanitation trainings for house-mothers and children, led by the RMF Nurses in collaboration with government relevant agencies associated with NCO.
Collaboration with Seven Summits Women to support rebuilding in Sindhupalchowk
Seven Summits Women is a team of 7 female Everest Summiteers who make the world's first women team to climb the highest mountain in each continent. Team members hail from the worst earthquake hit districts of Sindhupalchowk, Kathmandu and Dolakha and have been actively engaged in providing relief support to the communities of this district.
In this light, Real Medicine Foundation has partnered with Seven Summits Women and White Girl In Nepal to contribute to their goal of reconstruction of schools, health posts and other damaged public structures to provide immediate relief and long-term support to the people of Bhotenamlang a district in Sindhupalchowk, home to one of the team members.
The worst hit district in the earthquake with the highest death toll, Sindhupalchowk, has for at least two decades also been the country's hub for women and girls trafficking. This and neighboring districts have always had high trafficking, massive migrant labors, high crime rates and hardly any real economic activities and opportunities. Even before the earthquake, these were the neglected regions of the nation, despite their proximity to the country's capital.
The Seven Summits Women team has been working for the women’s Education, Empowerment & Environment in these districts for years now, including empowering women and girls survivors of trafficking, providing them training in the outdoors and English language lessons.
Following the earthquake, the team has been active in relief and recovery work. They first started with relief work, sending food, medical and sanitation supplies. And currently, the team is rebuilding schools. In the long-term goal, they aspire to empower women, bringing in real socio-economic change while ensuring that women are at the forefront of this change.
Distribution of biscuits and other relief materials in Bhotenamlang:
In close collaboration with Seven Summits Women, RMF will be, among others, working for the rebuilding, equipping and staffing of five schools in Bhotenamlang. Some of the Seven Summits Women projects where RMF will be partnering on are as follows:
- School feeding program: In order to further ensure that children stay in school and to provide incentives to parents to send their children to school, we have set a goal of providing approximately 2,234 children in 8 schools with nourishing mid-day meals.
- Water & sanitation: Seven Summits in partnership with SmartPaani is making sure that all 5 schools in Bhotenamlang have access to proper toilets and clean water. A couple of schools have been completed already, but the work is currently stalled due to the monsoons.
- Supplies & teacher staffing: Support to the schools with required supplies including arts & crafts, sports, musical kits, whiteboards and projectors. We are also working on hiring additional qualified teachers in schools that are not adequately staffed.
- Reconstruction of Shree Ganesh Lower Secondary School: In partnership with Green Tara Foundation, reconstruction of the lower secondary school in Gurung-gaun has commenced. The newly built school will be constructed with international standards in mind and have excellent infrastructure.
- Reconstruction of the only health post in Tamang-gaun that has been raised as a critical and urgent need of the community.
Children attend school at one of the temporary learning centers built by the team:
Discussions are underway to recruit a Project Manager to provide overall support to the effective implementation of this project.
Support of Kanti Children’s Hospital
Kanti Children’s Hospital is the only government referral level Children’s Hospital of Nepal. The hospital was established in 1963 as a general hospital with 50 beds, which today have a capacity of 320 beds. The hospital treats children up to the age of 14 from all over the country, a total target population of 13-14 million children. Following the earthquake, where parts of hospital building were damaged, there is in general a need for equipment and capacity building for better health service delivery.
RMF plans to provide long-term support to the hospital and is currently in discussion with the Kanti Children’s Hospital Development Board on their needs and sustainability of support. As a start, RMF is currently supporting Kanti Hospital through donation of essential equipment, medicines and supplies worth $408,711.
Distribution of Solar Lights
A total of 52 solar lights were distributed in Himalayan VDC (LHO), LI Village of Gorkha.
The remaining 23 lights will be distributed in Nuwakot District. The solar lights will benefit remote households affected by the earthquake that are living in tents or any other temporary shelters. The lights were distributed via helicopters along with other relief materials to ensure that remote areas without access and that still remains cut off from relief support are able to make use of the lights.
Expansion of RMF Nepal team
A Programme Officer-Finance was recruited to support overall administrative, financial and organizational operations of the RMF Nepal Office. In particular, he will be supporting the handling of daily financial activities and keeping financial records and bookkeeping.
We are also in the process of recruiting two Project Managers to provide technical support to our Model Village Project in Gorkha and our projects in Sindhupalchowk.
More than 8,500 people are dead and over 15,000 injured following a magnitude 7.8 earthquake that hit the Himalayan region the morning of April 25, 2015. Eight million people are affected across Nepal, and one million children are in urgent need of help.