Since the devastating 2015 earthquake in Nepal, the Rotary Club of Hall has been involved in reconstruction of schools in the western provinces in partnership with the REACH for Nepal Foundation.

Recently, club members Chris Edwards and Janine Linklater visited two schools rebuilt with funding from the club.

The visit had been a long time coming and Chris and Janine were very pleased to finally have the opportunity to see these projects first-hand.

As part of the visit, the club elected to install Peace Poles at both of the schools being visited.

Peace Poles are an international symbol of peace. Each side of the pole displays the phrase “May peace prevail on earth” in different languages. There are over 250,000 Peace Poles planted around the world, symbolising a common aspiration for world peace.

Construction of the peace pole

Peace Poles are often installed in schools. They serve as an educational tool to start conversations about peace and serve as a focal point for community reflection and to remember those lost in conflict and natural disasters.

 The first school the pair visited was the Sishukalyan Janapriya School, in the mountains about an hour and a half drive south-west of Pokhara. It is an area steeped in history with terraced mountainsides flush with corn almost ready to harvest, and newly planted rice.

The guests received a traditional greeting from a small contingent of staff and students. Many of the older students were out in the fields working with their families. Three of the older boys went to the vehicle to carry the pole to the school building. A spot for the pole had been chosen and a hole dug in preparation.

After some initial discussion about the build of the school, work began on attaching the panels to the pole. The children lined up and took turns in screwing the panels on. Each child put a screw in to the cheers of the others. Finally, the pole was concreted into place. A small garden will be planted at the base of the pole.

The club also purchased school supplies, which were handed out to the children.

As the group were discussing the purpose of the pole as a point of reflection, tears welled in the eyes of one teacher, clearly still affected by the devastating events of nearly a decade before.

Which way to go

The following day, the group headed to the second school. This time, a three-hour drive into the mountains south-east of Pokhara. The Shree Barahi School at Tanahun had been a hard one to get all the materials to build the school. Roadworks and the need for a circuitous offroad detour added more difficulty to our journey.

The 4WD wound along muddy trails and forded the river a few times before ascending the top of a hill. We arrived at the school about an hour late. Once again, the small children were the ones who greeted us. Because it was a public holiday, the students and teachers had gathered with the sole purpose of welcoming Rotary Club of Hall guests and taking part in the installation of the Peace Pole.

Handing over stationary supplies

The Rotary Club of Hall had funded reconstruction of a classroom and a freestanding earthquake-resistant building and refurbishment of the toilet block.

Once again, teachers and village elders greeted the visitors. In many respects, it was a repeat of the previous day’s activity. With small students lined up, each attaching one screw to the Peace Pole to the applause of the other children.

Gift of a rooster
Rooster in a box ready for the return journey.

After a packed lunch, the group had to wait before leaving. Someone had gone to fetch a rooster that the villages insisted on giving as a parting gift. When the rooster arrived, it was unceremoniously put in a box and placed in the back of the vehicle for the bumpy ride back to Pokhara.