In Nepal, as in many other countries in the world, the pandemic is spreading more and more and the government has serious difficulties in coping with the spread of the virus and the very rapid deterioration of a very fragile and challenged economic system.
After 11 years of civil war and a devastating earthquake (the one of 2015), the Nepalese are now faced with a health emergency and further impoverishment that is irreparably affecting the multitude of families who live on occasional jobs in urban areas.
To cope with this growing crisis, the Manasarovar School, which we have been supporting since 1999 with the Long Distance Sponsorship, has asked ASIA for help. This is a school that for over 20 years has been offering primary education to Tibetan children living in the Boudhanath neighbourhood and has become an important point of reference for the families of this area.
Tsultrim Sangmo and Bhijaya Khanal, the managers of the school, are very concerned about the serious consequences of covid-19, which will go well beyond the end of the pandemic.
“We know that, in any crisis, children and the most vulnerable people suffer disproportionately – they told us – and this pandemic is no different. It is our responsibility to prevent suffering, save lives and protect the health of every child. We must also ensure that all safety measures are guaranteed within the school.”
All schools closed on March 19th, forcing over eight million students to stay home. Among these are the 550 students and the 34 staff members of Manasarovar, who had great difficulties in carrying out the teaching activities, given the lack of multimedia tools and IT knowledge.
At moment the school is organizing all the safety measures to be prepared to safely welcome the children and resume lessons once the schools are able to reopen. However, to do this appropriately, funds are needed to purchase the necessary materials to prevent infections and ensure sufficient distance between children.
In addition, 106 of the families of the children who attend the school have lost their jobs and no longer have the means to buy the necessary food and therefore have turned to the school for help.
- Food provision for the families
The parents of most of the students of Manasarovar are Tibetan refugees, who live mainly on crafts and tourism-related commerce. In these three months of closure they lost their job, and being in serious difficulties they asked for help to the Manasarovar, which verified that there are 106 families out of 468 that are no longer able to buy food due to the Covid 19 emergency. The school, with the help of ASIA, is planning to supply food packages consisting of: Rice – 5 kg, Atta (wheat flour) – 2.5 kg, Maida – 2.5 kg, Dal (black + red lentil) – 2 kg, Cooking oil – 1.5 litters, Chana (chickpeas) – 1 kg, Beans – 1 kg and Sugar – 1 kg per person for 1 month.
- Creation of a corner for hand washing
Washing hands with soap in a country like Nepal, which is still struggling to have adequate access to drinking water and sanitation, is still not a common practice. Since washing hands regularly is one of the most effective safety measures to hinder COVID 19, the project involves the creation of a corner for hand washing with 4 different taps of different heights connected to a 2000 litre tank. A disinfectant soap will be placed on the side of each tap.
- Basic hygiene education and monitoring of children’s health
It will be very important to do regular monitoring of children’s health, by checking the temperature of each student and staff member. The School is organizing this activity with a nurse – a former pupil of Manasarovar herself – who is willing to volunteer at the school. The nurse will teach each child how to properly wash their hands with soap and other behaviours to promote personal and environmental health and will measure the temperature of all students and teachers with a thermal scanner.
- Organization of two school shifts per day
The Manasarovar school has 550 students and 34 members of school staff. In order to avoid the transmission of any infection, the school will have to organize 2 shifts per day, with halved classes (of 15/20 children instead of the usual 30/40). The staff will be the same and will therefore have to work many hours longer than the normal working day.
- Purchase of safety devices
Before the reopening, the school must be prepared and equipped with materials that guarantee the safety for both staff and students. ASIA, together with the school staff, will distribute the materials on the first day, which must be of quality and comply with the standards. The materials to buy and distribute are: thermal scanner, hand sanitizer, gloves, masks, face shields, liquid soap, sanitizing spray, sprayers, boots.
- Remuneration for teachers and staff
Since the school will have 2 shifts, all staff will have to work many hours longer than their usual working hours. Teachers will have to arrive at school at 7 in the morning, to receive the children at the gate to carry out all the necessary checks and the lessons of the first shift will start at 7.30. This means that they will have to stay in school until 18:00 to check the homework. According to the school’s new plan, “teachers will work for an average of 60 hours per week instead of the expected 40 hours”. The teachers and all staff members will have to work 10 hours a day until the situation improves in the country.
BENEFICIARIES: 550 students, 34 members of the staff of the Manasarovar School and 106 families.