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with Stefan Nestler

Education in tin sheds

Thulosirubari WellblechA return to normal is difficult while you have to live in ruins. “The earthquake has destroyed almost all the houses”, Arjun Gatraj wrote to me from Thulosirubari in Sindhupalchowk District. The village is about 40 kilometers as the crow flies from the Nepalese capital Kathmandu, but is only accessible by a gravel road. “The people are struggling to make ends meet. They live from hand to mouth”, Arjun said. According to him, the devastating 25 April earthquake killed about 75 people in Thulosirubari. Seven of the victims were students of the “Gerlinde and Ralf School”, but they didn’t die at school. “When I heard about the earthquake, I had many familiar people of Nepal in my mind: friends, good friends, and of course the many children in the various schools of the German aid organization Nepalhilfe Beilngries, also the students of the school in Thulosirubari”, says Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner. “Then my thought was immediately: Saturday is no school, thank goodness!” With their financial commitment, the extreme climbers Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner and Ralf Dujmovits had made it possible at all to build the school.

70 students per class

Discussions under trees

Discussions under trees

Meanwhile teachers have resumed the lessons, in sheds made from bamboo, wood and CGI sheets. “But the children are not safe enough to stay inside these temporary learning buildings because they cannot protect them when rain and wind take place at the same time”, Arjun, chairperson of the School Management Committee of Thulosirubari wrote to me. The “Gerlinde and Ralf School”, which was only inaugurated in 2009, was – as reported before – so badly damaged that it must be completely demolished. “Almost all of the furniture and teaching materials were destroyed too”, Arjun said. “In our leisure time, we and the teaching staff are now using the ground under a tree to discuss the teaching and learning methodologies.” Due to the lack of rooms, the classes have been merged, they now have about 70 students each. “The teachers are feeling that it is problematic to teach them effectively under these conditions.”

“Everybody joined the work”

Opening of the school in 2009

Opening of the school in 2009

This is reminiscent of the period before the construction of the school. “When we were in Thulosirubari for the first time, we met children who were taught sitting on the floor due to the lack of school furniture,” says Gerlinde. “The small classrooms were overcrowded.” At that time, the idea was born to build a larger school together with the Nepalhilfe Beilngries. “Everybody joined the work, the childrens’ parents, whether men or women, all helped. Eighteen months later, the new school building was finished”, the Austrian mountaineer, who was the first woman to climb all 14 eight-thousanders without supplemental oxygen, recalls. ”I’ll never forget the moment when we were standing in front of more than five hundred students who were so incredibly happy about their new school. It was a wonderful day.”

Dangerous way to school

Lessons for many students

Lessons for many students

Only the memory remains – and the ruins of a school, which was once a symbol of hope for a better future. In the village, hostels are also missing for students and teachers who are coming from outside to stay. “The students have to walk for hours to attend the lessons”, Arjun Gatraj wrote. “But now their way to school is more dangerous due to the earthquake.” After all, said Arjun, Thulosirubari has been spared from floods and landslides in the monsoon so far, so that there is no need to worry about the crops and plantations. “The villagers are thinking more of their children’s future than their own lives.” And that will be decided in the classroom. “Let’s combine our efforts to rebuild the school”, Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner appeals – even to you. You can ensure with your donations for our project “School up!” that the “Gerlinde and Ralf School” will soon be more than just a memory.

You can transfer money to this bank account in Germany:

Recipient: Nepalhilfe Beilngries
Bank: Volksbank Bayern Mitte eG/Germany
IBAN: DE05 7216 0818 0004 6227 07
Intended purpose: Gerlinde and Ralf School

P.S. I’ll be on holidays till the end of July. 🙂 But you won’t have to miss my blog completely. Next week I’ll publish a series in occasion of the 150th anniversary of the first ascent of the Matterhorn.



3. July 2015 | 21:01