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© Naturfreunde Niederösterreich
© Naturfreunde Niederösterreich

Naturefriends Austria support Nepal

Meaningful Mountain Tours

Being strong together – this is the motto of Naturefriends Austria and „Children of the Mountain“ when they continuously work together to rebuild schools and kindergartens in the Nepalese Region Tandrang. A trekking tour marks the beginning of a new project.

Finally, they can go to a proper school again: the children from Shankar, who lost almost everything during the earthquake back in 2015. A natural disaster, which killed 8.800 people and destroyed more than 800.000 homes.

After a building period of six months, President Andreas Schieder opened the new school together with a tour group from Naturefriends Austria. Motivated by the success, Andreas Schieder and Ernst Dullnigg, project coordinator and executive director of Naturefriends Lower Austria, already picked the next building project during the trip. Thus, willing sponsors, but also energetic volunteers, are needed: During the autumn of 2018, another trip to Nepal is being planned where, after trekking through the Annapurna area for a few days, the travellers will help building the school.

Dullnigg and Schieder travelled through the Bandipur region and visited all seven villages in the area. The extensive destruction caused by the earthquake is still omnipresent. Two of the seven schools need to be completely rebuilt and the remaining five need repairs. “The total costs are estimated at 180.000 Euro, every additional cent can be used for additional local help”, Andreas Schieder emphasizes and hopes that by autumn enough money will be collected to start the first building project. 
Affected children belong to the poorest of the poor
Construction will start in October 2018 after the expected monsoon. The “Jal-Devi-Primary-School” for about 60 to 70 children will be built in the 900 people strong village Kalchowk. A total of six classrooms, a kindergarten and new bathrooms are planned. “The school currently cannot be used due to the damage done by the earthquake and the children are being taught in temporary facilities. The local community belongs to the Dalit group and – just like the people in Shankar – to the lowest caste of the Hindus, meaning they are some of the poorest people in Nepal”, Ernst Dullnigg explains.

The motivation, with which Naturefriends Austria together with the organisation „Children of the Mountain“ are pushing their Nepal project for years now, is second to none. In the last ten years, 12 earthquake-proof schools and 15 kindergartens were opened in the Tandrang mountainous region.

Especially since the devastating earthquake in April 2015, the support group has their hands full. The quake has cost many people their livelihood. Ernst Dullnigg: “The construction of our schools will make it possible for the poorest of the poor to receive an education. Especially girls in those mountain villages benefit from our work, because our schools operate according to the “Girls-First” principle. In the Nepalese society, girls are still not equal and often have a hard time competing against the boys. In our schools we do not differentiate.”

Hike and help
Travelling and helping is also a good idea because of the impressive nature in this region: Kalchowk scores with its unforgettable view over the 8000-meter-high mountains of the Annapurna. On October 25, 2018, the Nepalhilfe together with hiking enthusiasts as helpers will travel to the mountain area. “First, we will travel to the Annapurna mountains, then we will help at the current construction site in Kalchowk”, describes Ernst Dullnig the planned itinerary. 

Naturefriends are also bringing numerous climbing and hiking equipment along and share their knowledge with the Sherpas. Lapka Norbu, helicopter rescue pilot at the Himalaya Basecamp: “Us Sherpas depend on hiking tourism. This enables us to support our families. To do our job well, we need good equipment. However, a lot of time this is impossible because the increasing prices make it unaffordable.”

If you want to support this aid project, there are different ways to help. Hiking enthusiasts will get their money’s worth with the “Hike&Help” Tours, offered by Naturefriends Austria: “The hike will take place at approximately 3000 metres altitude and is also doable for hobby mountain climbers”, Dullnig clarifies. Hike for one week, help for one week! The tour starts on October 25, 2018. 

Further Information: 
Naturefriends Nepalhilfe: 
Children of the Mountain: 
Information about the trip:
Trekking in the Manaslu area 
Visiting the schools in Tandrang and ground-breaking for the school from Oktober 26 till November 11, 2018

Contact information:
Stefanie Leeb
Naturfreunde Touristik GesmbH

Text: Barbara Pletzer, Foto: Naturfreunde Niederösterreich