The Project has had a warm reception but we are still very much at the beginning of the journey. We still have many challenges laid out for us as I return to Nepal again knowing we have a lot of work to do.
Budland School, Ujwal and I have been in good contact while I was away and there were some concerns about the current land. I had been hoping to excavate after looking at the land plans and measuring previously. However it seemed we had gone a few steps forward and one step back, as life can feel sometimes working in this beautiful country, which I knew from previous experiences here. Problem solving was something you have to get accustomed to here, and expect. I was still confident we could progress now I was back.
The school were struggling to agree with their landowner on a long term lease agreement which I needed to go with the projects legal agreements with the landowner and the Budland School directors we had previously made together. I had been assured this wouldn’t be a problem after my previous negations with everyone involved.
The lease was verbally agreed in my previous meetings but unfortunately he was deciding to put the rent up substantially on them once the building of the school was completed, with a further alarming annual increase. He seemed to of had a change of heart. I found this unacceptable, and he now seemed purely opportunistic. I feel he did not appreciate how seriously I take my duty to protect the donation money not just for the building but in respect to the long term future of the school, the reason this project was born. I couldn’t agree to invest donation money on the long term with what was presently on the table as I did not believe it was good for the schools budgeting in the future. The current landowner now seemed to have lost all regard to Nepal’s land prices and inflation rates, obviously thinking he could slyly take advantage of the situation. The school were rightly worried, and I was glad they hadn’t rushed into anything out of desperation before I arrived back.
We could do better and I knew we had a wild card up our sleeves; one of the school directors, Purna had some farm land available. I had not seen the land but knew Purna could present it to us. In my opinion we had no choice but to decline the new final offers with the current land owner and move forward together somehow into a much more reasonable situation than they are currently in. I had a strong feeling that the land owner would soon regret his decision. Now showing his true colours, he had completely lost my trust; something the villagers hold dearly between themselves in their communities, and extending that to me here which I respect and reciprocate.
As I have previously said 90% of the districts buildings collapsed, which has put the school in a corner with no lifelines but our help. I need to know the future of the schools arrangements were secured long term to invest my time, energy and your donations into the project. Without a third party involved in the land I knew we could move forward strongly into a better arrangement. Purna, since I have known him has always possessed a passion to do whatever it takes to save his school and keep the future of Budland School healthy. Purna’s family are seriously involved and rely on the school success also; his wife Dolma as the Principal and his brother is about to enter a teaching position in the school. It was clear how important this was too him, his family and what I see as the best way possible to find the solution to this problem.
Purna and I looked over 3 potential locations. The first location was far too small and was easy to rule out of the equation. The second and third would require some serious excavation and new entrance to the land created to both.
The second potential option has a steep cliff coming down to the typical dirt road access, however to maximize the land we were having to talk about moving the road during the excavation process as it turned out while measuring he owned a section of it. The road would possibly be too close, effectively creating more noise with passing milk trucks, motorbikes and such vehicles.
The Third location we would have to forge a new path to the site; around sixty meters . It was off from the same dirt road to a more beautiful, safe and peaceful area than the second option and even their current location. This location I was seeing more potential, also requiring a simpler excavation with less village disruption.
Both these two locations were of similar size and the locations had better access points for other village’s children to also attend with ease for their education, enhancing the village infrastructure. The prospects became very exciting. Purna and myself dreamed about its potential together, took time to go through each of the pros and cons; finding ourselves in easy agreement. Purna had to speak to the other directors and I reminded him we would need to rewrite all previous contracts. That all legalities need to be in place with a long lease agreed as soon as possible. That I would like to start prepping the land with an excavation as soon as the ink from the signatures and fingerprints were dry on the pages and before the monsoon arrives. (Nepal legal contracts require signatures and both thumb prints together making it impossible to forge).
As soon as my dear friend Ujwal was free, which became immediately as he was so excited at the new development, due to his worries feeling very much like mine, we organised a meeting with a more seasoned lawyer than we previously had, (my third lawyer, such is life!).
Ujwals new contact in the new lawyer’s offices was incredible; giving us so much time to discuss and renegotiate the new contract while giving us a much more in-depth crash course in Nepali Law which I hadn’t previously had such an honour. After a couple of days it was starting to take shape. One meeting with Purna lasting 5 hours of hard talk back and forth in the lawyers office we were finally happy that the lawyer was going to draw up and amazing contract with all the right clauses, making sure the schools future would stay safe with a long and beautiful future, as much so as its service to the children’s over the next generations. The new agreement also gives the school a greater opportunity to buy the land in the future.
Nepali Law is not so simple, leading Ujwal and I now taking even more future responsibility together in the legal agreements over our lifetimes. This will make sure there will never be any future problems and no corruption will be possible. We take this project and everyone’s support very seriously; it’s a real labour of love for the both of us. Ujwal joining the project in this capacity was a beautiful surprise, a true credit to the project and has amazed me. I am honoured to be voluntarily working with him again into our third year of friendship that’s always been based on the social welfare of people less fortunate than us.
It wasn’t long before we invited all the directors and witnesses to come for a day in Bhaktapur City at the lawyer’s office to agree, sign and fingerprint in front of the Legal body, who is fully supporting our project even giving an amazing pep talk to everyone while Ujwal translated into my ear. Everyone, once again seemed happy that the school will be safe and protected. We can finally move forwards stronger and together.
I am now happy knowing the land is fully secured and feel it is now possible to finally start the next phase of the project and prepare the new land ready to potentially build after the monsoon season with your kind support.
I would just like to say I am personally donating all start-up costs as my donation to this project , including these legal fees. All donations will be saved until it is time to build and 100% will go to the rebuild. During the building phase I will be publishing all accounts due to my belief that the projects transparency is very important to all involved.