For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Mackenzi and I am a third year Biological Engineer at the University of Florida. This is my second year on the Nepal Team and last August I traveled to Khanalthok, Nepal for our Secondary Assessment.
When we first arrived in Nepal and made our way through the capital, the damage caused by the earthquake was clear. Entire buildings were destroyed, several temporary tin roofs were placed on homes, and most buildings were kept standing with 2X4’s.
I also experienced a little of the culture shock that Taylor mentioned in her very first blog-post from Nepal. Just driving through the streets I could see amazing differences. Cluttered and unorganized telephone lines clouded the skyline, people and motorcycles crowded the streets, and the smell of amazing food was overwhelming.
After exploring different parts of Kathmandu, we made our way to the village of Khanalthok.
On August 19th, 2015, Matt (student), Kiran (student), Shree Krishna (NGO contact), Bibhu (volunteer), Sheila (volunteer), Maurice (mentor), Dr. Ullman (mentor), and I arrived in Khanalthok, Nepal at the Shree Janahit Secondary School.
As soon as I walked into the courtyard I was sold. The students, faculty, and the area itself captured my heart immediately. We were so graciously greeted by the school faculty and many small smiling faces! It was hard not to frantically wave at everyone and even more difficult to take in our surroundings. But really, the students at the school were so curious and eager to see their new visitors! During our initial meeting with the faculty, the kids were crowding in the doorways and pushing each other out of the way just to get a glimpse of what was happening inside. Except every time I looked their way they sheepishly turned away with giggles.
On a serious note, during the meeting the school’s needs were reaffirmed as well as their accompanying commitment to the project. We wanted to make sure that the school still needed help with their water quality and quantity issues even after the earthquake. Our main priority is to help the community in anyway and this meeting helped strengthen our relationship with them. We also brought several boxes of school supplies as donations to the school.
Following the meeting, the travel team toured the school grounds and recorded the damage from the earthquake. The buildings here were comparatively better than those in Kathmandu but still in very poor condition. Almost entire walls of the school were demolished, cracks in the water tank worsened, and the girls latrines were collapsed.
We also collected the necessary specific data to allow us to move forward to the design phase of the project. The collections included: GPS mapping of important school structures, measuring the elevations of the land, measuring the building roof areas, and calculating the volume of the school’s damaged tank.
Until we return to Khanalthok in May 2016, our team will be hard at work designing something truly amazing to help this beautiful community.
Keep coming back for more updates!