“During the earthquake, I was afraid. I was worried something bad would happen and I’d no longer be able to study,” says Manju, 13, from Dolakha, Nepal.
Dolakha was one of the districts most impacted by the earthquakes that destroyed Nepal in April and May. They affected over 85% of the population, while more than 50,000 homes were damaged.
Manju lost her home and her school. The teenager now lives in a temporary shelter with her mother and father made up of iron sheets and studies in a temporary learning centre, built by Plan International.
Manju walks nearly 45 minutes through the remote mountainous region to reach the temporary learning centre, crossing valleys and rivers just to get to her destination.
Despite the challenging journey, Manju understands the value of an education and is thankful for her parents’ continued support. “Education is necessary to remove the many misconceptions that exist in our community. Many countries have moved forward through education. I want to stay here and study,” says Manju.
Manju is just one of thousands of girls whose education was interrupted when the earthquakes devastated Nepal, collapsing more than 35,000 classrooms.
Temporary learning centres have become a safe place for children, where they can meet with their friends, forget about their worries and, of course, learn.
Tritha is the headmaster of Manju’s school – the only school located in this remote, mountainous area. Tritha used to be a student here, before becoming a teacher, then head teacher. Tritha is dedicated to rebuilding Manju’s school and ensuring children in Dolakha have the opportunity to learn.
The earthquakes destroyed Manju’s school. One classroom block collapsed. The other classroom was deemed unsafe by the government. Only one small classroom remained.
“At the beginning, there were problems. Every time there was an earthquake, the children would run outside for fear that the classroom walls would collapse again,” says Tritha.
In the six months after the earthquake struck, Plan International has built 282 temporary learning centres, enabling 18,353 children, like Manju, to resume their education quickly.
“After the temporary learning centre was established, things gradually got better. Without Plan International’s support, it would have been difficult to educate our children. Now they don’t fear aftershocks as much and they are excited to come to school again,” adds Tritha.
Tritha is now working in partnership with Plan International and the District Education Office to build a ‘safe school’ in his village. He is determined to make the structure a model school – one that can be replicated by neighbouring villages. He wants to ensure it is structurally safe and earthquake resistant. Tritha will also educate students and teachers on disaster preparedness through simulations, drills and activities.
Since the earthquake, Plan International has prioritised the needs of children, girls and marginalised groups who live in remote and hard-to-reach mountainous communities.
In an emergency, adolescent girls often face the brunt of the crisis and face the double discrimination of being both young and female. Many girls fails to return to school.
“In so many places, there is discrimination between men and women. Men get respect and women face discrimination,” says Manju.
I want my future to be better. I don’t want to drop out of school.
"I want to be an example to other girls in my village and become a journalist," said Manju.