A Todmorden teacher who now works in earthquake-hit Nepal is urging townspeople to donate to help rebuild schools which have been destroyed by the disaster.
Todmorden High School student Jenny Swift later taught at Castle Hill Primary School for ten years and after leaving her home in the town three years ago taught in Jordan before moving with her husband and fellow teacher Daniel to Kathmandu last August, where she is head of Key Stage 2 at The British School, which serves both the international and local community and runs like a UK school for children from age three to 18.
She and Daniel were lucky to be relatively safe because of where they were when the earthquake struck, but along with the school community are desperately trying to get both supplies and rebuilding material out to associated schools in badly hit parts of the country.
Jenny said “Five of us were on a mountain bike ride in the hills that surround the Kathmandu valley. We were so fortunate to be in open ground at the top of hill. The ground started to shake slowly at first and it was a while before anyone realised it was an earthquake. “When we did, three of us there sat down and huddled together as the shaking became more and more vigorous. We were in a small hamlet of houses, a girl ran out of the house in front to safety and then it completely collapsed.
“Daniel was slightly further down the track and near another house that partly collapsed. As we waited for the aftershocks to stop, we found out that one of the houses that had collapsed was new and only seven days away from completion. On our journey back to Kathmandu we saw many houses damaged or collapsed - and this was not one of the worst hit areas.
“Amazingly, in the cluster of houses we were near, no one was seriously hurt.”
Associated with The British School, three schools in Dhading, one of the poorest regions in the country and one of the worst hit, are now unusable, and TBS also has links with the Disabled New Life Centre and Bungamati school for sight and hearing impaired. The children managed to get out safely but their building was damaged.
TBS students, under the staff’s direction, have already delivered tarpaulins, food and cleaning supplies to the Bungamati School.
Jenny hopes Todmorden townspeople will be able to help them get back on their feet again. “There are many charities who will provide immediate relief assistance. What we would like to do is to continue to work with our current community projects because we can be assured that money pledged to our care will result in every single penny being spent on projects that TBS children, students and staff can help them with and see develop over time.
“These projects will benefit children, are related to education, and we know they will give long term benefit to the children and people of Nepal.
“We will make sure every penny is spent on our charity projects, and staff and students will donate their time voluntarily to administer these efforts and students will be leading on liaising with the schools and organising the rebuilding process,” she said.
Jenny said people could transfer any contributions to the TBS UK account writing, ‘TBS Charities’ as the reference, to: The British School Kathmandu, account number 1010938710, IBAN number GB43SCBL60919910938710, Sort code: 60-91-99, or ABA Swift number code: SCBLJESH, Standard Chartered Bank (Jersey) Limited, 15 Castle Street, St. Helier, Jersey, JE4 8PT, Channel Islands.