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Activists raising money for school in quake-shattered Nepal

UCPH student involvement in crowd-fundraising campaign to make a new school for 400 children

Six young Copenhageners, including University of Copenhagen (UCPH) students, are calling for donations to build a school in Nepal, where an earthquake took place earlier in 2015. The group has until Christmas to earn DKK 30,000, the amount necessary to build a primary and secondary school for 300-400 children in the region.

Through the crowd-fundraising website indiegogo, their campaign ‘Build a School’ has so far managed to get more than DKK 7,000.

The initiators, a group of friends, are all experienced in NGO work and fundraising projects. But building a school is a whole new dimension: “We wanted to help children – that was the only thing we knew in the beginning,” explains Edvard Lucius, coordinator of the initiative. “When we then thought about building a school some weeks after the earthquake, it sounded impossible and unrealistic- but where there is a will, there is a way!”

Education key to normal life

The earthquake hit Nepal on 25 April 2015. The magnitude 7.8 quake killed more than 9,000 people and injured a further 23,000. The Dolakha district was one of the worst affected regions, hit by a second earthquake on 12 May. Even though the catastrophe happened half a year ago, some places are still nearly marooned: To get to Jungu village, where the school is planned to be built, you have to walk more than seven hours.

300 out of 318 primary schools in the region were destroyed. More than 60,000 children are without education. The group decided that building a school would be the best way to help. Education is vital for children and has a big impact on their parents, their communities and the whole Nepalese society.

“The earthquake pushed the country back for years,” says Justine Foreman, a master’s student in Animal Science at the University of Copenhagen. “But the international media interest just remained a few weeks. Help is still needed in Nepal. With this school, children will have the chance to look forward to their bright futures again.”

Local contacts ensure construction process and communication

Suman Nepal is the founder of the initiative. He is a Nepalese student doing his master’s in Denmark. During the earthquake he actually considered flying home to his country to help immediately. But he decided that going back in this particular situation, would not have had that big of an impact.

Building a school is not as easy as throwing a few planks and nails together. There is an extensive process of getting in contact with the right people in the local community. At the moment Suman is on site, setting contracts and contacts locally to buy equipment and the material for the right price. The building plans and requirements were developed with the local community in Dolakha and are already approved by the government of Nepal. To make sure that the new building will be earthquake-proof, its design is copied from the schools that survived the earthquakes in April and May.

The initiative has to coordinate two strands of the project right now: The building process in Nepal and the campaign in Copenhagen. Private savings have allowed the initial construction work to already start. “We have a network with partners in Dholaka, which makes it easy to communicate the current status,” says student Christian Gray Christoffersen. “At the same time, we have to coordinate the campaign in Copenhagen to gain as much funding as possible.” To reach as many people as possible, the friends produce among others videos for their campaign homepage.

More information in fact box right.

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