With all the legalities secured and locked up, I now felt confident to push forward with the next phase and start preparing the land for the build. I had already started talking to a Nepali civil engineer, John, who was happy to donate a design (John has been involved in many humanitarian projects aimed at rebuilding resilient structures since the earthquake). It was now time for us to visit the site to make sure that the land will be secure over the monsoon. The excavation will also allow us to measure the land more efficiently so that John can start working on the design.
Whilst discussing the project on site, John, Ujwal, Purna and I all agreed to begin the excavation immediately, ensuring the new slope would be left at a forty-five degree angle now for security (preventing the possibility of the land sliding with the rain). In addition, any trees that will need to be removed while making the new entrance to the land, could be used within the slope to help bind the new loose land together for further safety. Due to the slope eating into our available space, we knew that the next job on site would be to build a retaining wall and have a further small excavation to fill in the space. We will also be re-planting trees around the perimeter after the rebuild of the school, where the roots will also help brace the land together further.
We were filled with excitement and decided we should enquire about a JCB straight away. It turned out, to my surprise, that we could order a JCB for the very next day, as their work load drops before the monsoon season. We were just in time, and we had to move fast before the rains came.
This was the first major moment in the project; we had gained some momentum and we were now in motion. Moving strongly forward my nerves were as excited as my mind. There were to be no further steps back in order to go forward, it felt good. We were in a good place.
These were feelings I hadn’t explored so much within myself since I first took a sledgehammer to Ram and Monisa’s tragic house after the earthquake (on my promise to build them a more secure and comfortable home). Your heart beats fast in the first moments as you settle under the weight of responsibility and the excitement of a new venture.
It’s a warm feeling knowing that we have support and encouragement for the project, but scary knowing that we still have a long way to go before we will have the funding to truly excel. With a full heart and solid belief in this project and the current strength of all previous developments at it’s highest yet, I know we will eventually get there together.
The JCB was run by a pair of extremely experienced young drivers, disciplined and on time, not something you always experience in Nepal! After our initial conversations, it seemed they didn’t need much further direction. I have never truly paid attention to exactly how they can move such a large machine, across hard and difficult terrain, using both arms simultaneously, both to balance and to dig. It was amazing to watch them at work
They wanted to get the job done quickly and efficiently, and, to my dismay, were far too serious to give me a JCB lesson. However they welcomed us to join them inside and get to know each other a little while they blasted music out from surprisingly powerful speakers. They had a pretty cool gig we thought. Ujwal and I found that it was hard not to dance a little bit inside what felt like a rollercoaster as they moved it over the rippled terrain before it was completely flat it was a real thrill.
I had invited our previous photographer to join us for such a monumental day in the project. Sushil has done such amazing work for us before on our website, and has become somewhat close to both us and the village. He really seems to love the project; it was great that he could make the time to come.
Purna, Ujwal, Ram and I were constantly there to assist from the ground, moving and clearing the wood. I was honoured that Ram was so keen to join us and help this project, considering how hard it has sometimes been to keep Monisa’s attendance high at school; however whilst checking up on this visit I discovered it had been much better while I was away; which fills me with optimism and encouragement that we are making real progress.
The day was thrilling, fast, and felt over too quickly. I couldn’t believe how much land they could move in a day. It was finally time to have a small celebration in the village and sink a few beers to mark a milestone in the project, before heading back to Kathmandu with Ujwal and Shushil. It was a tight squeeze with all three of us on the same Motorcycle, travelling hard rural roads, where every bump pushes you closer together, just as the bumps in the project do too. There is never an unsolvable problem.
Once in Kathmandu I headed straight over to see John to talk about the design and clarify the brief so that we could start the next stage. We also went back to the village to accurately re-measure everything. We will be very excited to inform you about the next developments as soon as the design is ready to publish.
As in keeping with my promise, I have personally donated the start-up costs and have also donated the costs of this excavation, however the rebuild cannot happen without your belief and generosity. All of the donations are being saved, and they will all go strictly towards the rebuild and improved school facilities.
All accounts during the rebuild will be published on this website as we progress. We all appreciate your support and believe that full transparency is essential to those that support this cause. Without you this wouldn’t be possible. As always, our thanks and gratitude are with you, let’s see what we can achieve together.