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Building bridges: Rebuilding safe access to education in Nepal’s monsoon season

For the local children of Bagdali in central Nepal, the arrival of the monsoon season presents a serious problem. The stream that runs through the village swells and the path across becomes treacherous, leaving children as young as three risking their lives to make the journey to school.

Following a number of tragic deaths and injuries due to the river, concerned parents and villagers came together with ICS volunteers to create a solution that could secure a safe route of passage for their children to the local school for years to come.

Education: a right for all

Jessica Walker, 21, was one of the UK Raleigh ICS volunteers working alongside Nepali counterparts in the affected area. She said:

“Education is a basic human right and this does not exclude the children of Bagdali village.

"Children aged as young as three had to face the river everyday just to get to school.

“Seeing the children use the bridge to cross the very same stream, all smiling and relieved, gave me the ultimate satisfaction,
Sushant Harsha Bajracharya,
In-country team leader on the project.
building a bridge

“We made the priority of our project to work with the community to take action and ensure that a bridge would be built with and for the villagers.

“After a few weeks of planning and organisation with local, skilled members of the community, the monsoon rain finally ceased and we were given a dry day to go ahead with the construction.”

‘Drenched in sweat, mud, and high hopes'

Constructed from locally-sourced bamboo, rocks and wire, Jessica’s team of volunteers and community members worked through the break in the weather to create the structure.

“Each of us worked hard with a smile on our face and adapted to the situation with ease.

"By the time the bridge was built, all of the team and the villagers were drenched in sweat, mud, and high hopes,” Jessica added.

“Looking back and viewing our masterpiece, we could only conclude it to be an image of hope for the community.”

Volunteers and local community building a bridge
Skilled local craftspeople cut the bamboo to size, ready to build a bridge with Raleigh ICS volunteers.

“Looking back and viewing our masterpiece, we could only conclude it to be an image of hope for the community.”

‘We will always support you’

For the villagers of Bagdali, the construction of the bridge was a huge relief: it guaranteed that no more lives would be lost needlessly in the pursuit of attaining a basic education.

Krishna Prashad Chaulagain, a village leader, said: “All of my sons and daughters who came from different parts of the UK and Nepal have worked together to bring change in the community.

“By building this bridge, you have all provided us with a facility not only for the children of Bagdali, but for the people of the village.

“Doing this important work and raising awareness here with the community is something that we will always support you in. I would like to congratulate everyone involved in building the bridge.”

Making a lasting difference

ICS volunteers carry a bamboo log
The bamboo bridge was designed by the team of volunteers

With the landlocked southern Asian nation of Nepal known for its dramatic and beautiful mountain ranges, from mid-June to early October the monsoon guarantees rain almost every day.

Freya Alden, 20, was on the team’s infrastructure and resources committee. She was responsible for creating a basic design for the bridge’s structure which was then used to inspire the architects, a group of local men with a wealth of experience in carpentry and construction.

She said: “Once visualised, it seemed like a matter of days before we were all sweating in the sun, smiles spread across our faces, building the bridge from the ground up."

‘Ultimate satisfaction’

“Seeing the children use the bridge to cross the very same stream, all smiling and relieved, gave me the ultimate satisfaction,” said Sushant Harsha Bajracharya, in-country team leader on the project.

Volunteers and local people celebrate on the finished bridge
Volunteers and local people celebrate on the finished bridge

If you’ve been inspired by the work of ICS volunteers and communities in-country to secure access to education, read more about our work in Nepal.

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ICS is funded by the UK Government's Department for International Development (DFID) which leads the UK’s work to end extreme poverty.

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