Teachers in Nepal are leading the way to protect communities from earthquakes

DisastersNepal

In April 2015, Nepal was rocked by a catastrophic earthquake. Almost 9,000 people lost their lives. Then, just weeks later, another earthquake hit, but this one fell on a school day. Teachers across the country tried to keep the children safe. However, none of them were trained to respond to emergencies like this, and many schools had no safe evacuation route either…

When the second earthquake hit, Ganga was in the middle of teaching a health lesson. The children in the class began to panic and so did she – the school didn’t have a plan for what to do when disasters like this hit. All Ganga knew was that she needed to keep the children safe. But how?

Ganga led them outside to the trees, but she soon realised that probably wasn’t a safe place for them to gather either. Everyone was very scared.

‘When I'm thinking about this I also get really emotional because it was very difficult for teachers at that time,’ shares Ganga. She’s never forgotten the panic she felt that day.

Building back stronger
Tearfund was one of the first charities to start building permanent, earthquake-resilient shelters following the earthquakes. We also began to work with local governments and schools to help them to create plans so that, if a disaster hit again, they would be prepared.

Ganga’s school is one of four that Tearfund’s local partner, UMN, is working with. The children who attend this school live in one of eleven communities in the area identified by UMN as being vulnerable.

After carrying out a risk assessment, they began working with the school to come up with a safe evacuation plan. Trees have been pruned so that branches won’t fall off and hurt people, and instead of having to jump over a large wall to exit the grounds, there are now stairs to use to leave safely.

Every detail has been thought about, including installing and maintaining safe drinking water and toilet blocks, so that if the children were stuck at the school, it would be much more hygienic for them.

Tearfund’s local partner UMN is helping teacher Ganga and her pupils how to respond to disasters. Credit: left, Chris Hoskins/Tearfund; top right and bottom right, Lloyd Kinsley/Tearfund

New skills, new hope
The children have also been busy. As part of the curriculum, they now practise earthquake drills, where they safely leave their classrooms, cover their heads and know where to assemble together. They have also learnt how to make a temporary stretcher to carry injured classmates to safety, and teachers have learnt basic first aid.

Ganga is now fully trained in how to respond to disasters – at home, at school, and in her neighbourhood.

‘I am now a nurse as well as a teacher,’ shares Ganga. She feels proud of her new skills, and that she can put them to good use in her community to keep others safe.

PLEASE PRAY

  • Lift up Ganga and thank God for how she is using her skills to keep others safe.
  • Praise God for UMN and the work they are doing to empower people to be able to respond to disasters.
  • Ask God to comfort people, like Ganga, who are still traumatised and grieving over the 2015 earthquakes. Pray they will find healing.

A version of this story first appeared in World of Differencea new way to support people like Ganga.