The district of Sindhupalchok, Nepal was one of the areas hit hardest by the April 2015 earthquake: more than 2,000 people died, many were injured, and the vast majority of houses, schools, and medical facilities were destroyed or rendered uninhabitable. In Bhotenamlang, the hometown of Maya Gurung (one of the founders of Seven Summits Women), there was not 1 house left intact. Sindhupalchok district was already known for sex-trafficking, lack of education, and discrimination against women, and the earthquake’s destruction meant that these problems would only grow worse.
Soon after the earthquake, Real Medicine Foundation partnered with Seven Summits Women to rebuild schools, health posts, and other damaged public structures in the village of Bhotenamlang, Sindhupalchok, and to provide immediate relief and long-term support to the people of Sindhupalchok district. Currently, RMF, through Seven Summits Women:
We are finalizing the drawings for Bhotenamlang Community Center and should start building within a couple of months. Bhotenamlang is in the primary village where we work in Sindhupalchok district, and the main purpose of the community center will be to host training (for example our women’s tailoring training), meetings, community events, films and documentaries for adults and schoolchildren, agricultural training, etc.
Early this year, we finished surveying the 9 schools that we support and are now making a comprehensive plan for 2017 and beyond. The plan includes everything from reconstruction, teacher training and staffing, starting music, art and computer classes, setting up libraries, and more.
In early 2017, we hired a permaculture trainer in partnership with the Himalayan Permaculture Initiative. The trainer works with local farmers to help them improve their current agricultural practices, use less pesticide, and improve their livelihood.
We will soon (in about a month) hire a trainer to further enhance the tailoring training that we have provided to women in Bhotenamlang. We will then employ these women to stitch uniforms for children in the schools that we support as planned.
At the moment, we are raising funds to procure 10 computers for the students and set up a library in the new building of Shree Ganesh Primary School.
We will soon pilot menstrual cups for young women in one of our sponsored schools and see what the response is like. We will have additional WASH and menstrual hygiene classes when we do so.
Maya Gurung and Shailee Basnet are now respected leaders in their community. They have earned the reputation of being ‘doers’ among villagers who often only see ‘talkers.’ Maya and Shailee have signed an Memorandum of Understanding with the district government to rebuild five schools in Maya’s home village of Bhotenamlang in the district of Sindhupalchok. This district has the greatest death toll after the Nepal earthquake, and in Maya’s village, there is literally not a house standing. As a result, sex-trafficking is more rampant than ever. Keeping kids, especially girls, in school is the most effective way to ensure that they stay away from traffickers. Educating women in remote areas, as well as empowering them by creating choices, is the way to keep them safe and on track.