Primary School Sanitation Project

Nepal has a history of poor sanitation. Trash and human waste contaminate the streets and waterways. Limited resources, along with the country’s growing population, poor education system, and isolated, remote villages all contribute to this public health issue. The 2015 earthquake intensified the sanitation problem in Nepal, as the devastation left millions of structures, including many of the country’s toilets, destroyed.

Hygienic sanitation, including access to toilets, is crucial for public health. Proper sanitation at schools reduces the spread of deadly diseases, boosts class attendance, and improves health and productivity of students and staff members. About 60 kilometers from Kathmandu, teachers at Patelshor Primary School carried on classes post-earthquake under hole-tattered tarps propped with old sticks. Those children and staff members who did continue reporting to school did so without access to clean water or working toilets.

Our 2015 fundraiser lacked the finances and resources needed to rebuild the primary school. However, with help from Trek Nepal Foundation, a local disaster relief organization, we arranged enough workers and materials to build two new toilets on the school’s property. With sustainability in mind, we purchased materials strong enough to withstand potential future earthquakes. We managed the organization of local workers and volunteers, and supplemented their skills with our knowledge of working construction in Nepal, The United States and other nations.

The project was nothing short of a community effort. We hired five villagers with previous construction experience to lead the building efforts. Dozens of other villagers also volunteered their time after long days spent harvesting rice for winter. Even the students helped move rocks and rubble during school breaks and between lessons.

While we endured setbacks during this building process, we completed the project in three weeks. The school now has two toilets – one for each the boys and girls, along with two washbasins. This helps to encourage and sustain improved sanitation and a healthier environment for the students and staff members. To top it off, as we started the project, a non-governmental organization (NGO) from India agreed to rebuild the primary school structure. This came as great news to the villagers, and they welcomed and thanked us with gracious Nepali hospitality.

We are so pleased that our collaboration with these willing community members and organizations have made a positive impact on the safety, hygiene and education access for the deserving villagers of Patelshor.