Technical Architect, Laura Arribas talks about her experience volunteering in Nepal.
For some time I had been thinking about taking part in a volunteering programme and it was something I wanted to tick off my list. But every year for one reason or another, timing was never in my favour. However, in 2019 I was determined to make it happen. I wanted to dedicate my time and contribute to a good cause and to making a difference to a community in need.
I found out about All Hands and Hearts (AHAH) from a friend who took part in one of their projects a couple of years ago. She is also an Architect and found it very useful to develop new skills and to experience a different way of working, particularly within the construction industry. After checking out all of their amazing programmes I decided to sign up to the Makwanpur Program.
In 2015 Nepal was hit by two earthquakes which resulted in the loss of lives, injuries and major destruction of homes and infrastructure including over 5,000 schools. The Nepal Program is aimed at rebuilding schools in the districts of Kathmandu, Sindhupalchowk, Sindhuli and Nuwakot, so that children in these areas can safely go back to school.
I was assigned to help rebuild Manakamana Basic School, a primary school that was almost entirely destroyed by the earthquake. The school will accommodate 140 students from ECD grade to grade 8. We were put to work doing a variety of tasks including digging, brickwork, wheelbarrowing, concrete mixing, rebar bending and wall construction – a world apart from being sat at a desk! A training programme encouraging young women to become masons was also implemented during my stay, which was fascinating to see.
What I enjoyed the most from my volunteering experience was that we were able to see, first-hand, the progress and direct impact of our work and how grateful the local community were for our help. As Petra Nemcova, AHAH Co-founder, says: “We can’t control nature, but we can control the actions we take.”