Nelson family’s project still standing after Nepal quake

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A Nelson family who helped construct an education and training centre in rural Nepal are mourning the loss of lives and the destruction of entire villages in their home district of Sindhupalchok.

The Education centre is the only building left standing in a pool of destruction in the village after earthquakes struck on April 25.

Durga Aran with his partner Fionna Heiton were working on the new Teacher Training Centre along with and two children, twelve year old twins, Jamie and Rhona, who attend Nelson Intermediate School.

Durga, the Nepali founder of First Steps Himalaya, a charity supporting early childhood centres and primary schools, says it is testament to the style of building it is still standing.

The centre was built, with help from the Court family in Auckland, using eco-friendly and earthquake resilient earth bags fundraised by the First Steps Himalaya team.

“We are presuming that people are now taking shelter in the training centre building and will hopefully use it in the days and weeks to come, as the houses are demolished, nights are cold and we are heading into monsoon,” Durga says.

He says it is one small shining light that the new centre has only a few cracks in the plaster, and he plans to encourage the rebuilding of houses using the same earth bag method.

A team of ten builders had volunteered to travel to Nepal to finish the building, which will become a leading teacher training centre in the rural Nepal Himalayas.

Durga says he fears the death toll will be greater than what has already been reported as many villages his family works with are yet to be reached.

“In my own village the latest news is that 18 people have died, nearly all are women and children as well as two elderly people in their 80’s. I know many of the people as it is a small rural village. The latest news through is that 1200 deaths have been reported so far, but information is very hard to get and I fear the death toll will be much greater as many of the villages we work in have not been reached yet.”

The First Steps Himalaya charity have set up a GiveALittle page for people to donate to the charity. All of the money will be used to help repair early childhood centres and schools.