In May of 2017, Dan Maurer and Anthony Mancini, directors of Flagstaff, Arizona-based nonprofit Elevate Nepal, explored many projects around Nepal with their Nepali partner Resham Bal. Even two years after the devastating 2015 earthquake, hundreds of thousands of people remained living in temporary, overcrowded structures. Rebuild efforts had been stagnant due to lack of resources, funding, and government corruption. After visiting dozens of villages Elevate Nepal found a remote village five hours north of Kathmandu called Sarsyu. Like many villages in Nepal, every building in Sarsyu was completely destroyed by the 7.8-magnitude earthquake, including the primary school. The Elevate Nepal crew spent several days talking to locals and asking what was the highest priority for the village. The answer unanimously stated was “rebuild the school.” The only options for the students of Sarsyu to continue their education after the earthquake was to walk two hours to a neighboring village or attend class in an overcrowded, rudimentary temporary structure.
In November of 2018, Elevate Nepal broke ground on Sarsyu Primary School. Sixteen full-time local workers were hired to construct a brand new 18-room, 9,000-square-foot school built up to earthquake standards that was approved by the National Reconstruction Authority overseen by the Nepalese government. Aside from a few days off due to weather, the construction crew chose to work seven days a week as the entire community eagerly awaited a new school. On days when a high level of labor was needed, volunteers from the community came together to donate their time to ensure a timely completion of the project. For example, on the day the concrete roof of the school was poured, all done by hand without any machines, 150 locals came together to get the job done in one day.
The project was expected to take 12 months to complete, but with hard work from everyone involved, it was finished in nine months and kept to the budget of $80,000. As of July 2019, 700 students are now attending class in a safe, dry, and earthquake-resistant structure. Now, with added space, the local government donated 40 computers to Sarsyu with satellite Internet. Also, new programs in agriculture and chemistry were added to the curriculum. Prior to its reconstruction, the school was only able to accommodate students up to grade 10; now there is space for students up to grade 12.
This was Elevate Nepal’s biggest and most ambitious project to date. It took dedication from hundreds of people (including funding from Kahtoola) from around the globe donating their time, money, and resources. All Elevate Nepal staff in America and Nepal could not be more proud and grateful to everyone involved. We are most happy for the students of Sarsyu and excited to know the school will be there for many more generations to come.
Elevate Nepal is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in Flagstaff, Arizona and a registered non-profit organization recognized by the ministry of social welfare in Nepal. EN has mainly focused on rebuilding infrastructure from the 2015 earthquake with a concentration in sanitation systems, homes and schools.