Sheffield school's Nepal project widens scope

A 53-strong team of volunteers will leave a Sheffield school this month to continue work with families and children in Nepal.

Wednesday, 2nd March 2016, 7:50 am
Updated Wednesday, 2nd March 2016, 7:51 am
Parachute classroom in Nepal

Headed by Birkdale teacher Keith Brooke, who received an MBE for leading the project that has improved the lives of hundreds of children, the party of teachers, parents, members of the supporting community and pupils will tackle specific issues.

Over 15 years a continuous fundraising campaign at Birkdale has topped £100,000, and intensified since the devastating earthquake that occurred just days after a school party had returned from its annual Easter trip there last year.

Bonds between the two communities of Kokhana in the Kathmandu Valley and Sheffield are now strong. Money raised here has gone towards the Peace Garden English School with almost 300 pupils, and is also allocated to three other schools in the area. A nearby leprosy colony has received help for the building of its health centre and church, and the food, education and accommodation for nine orphans has been provided.

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Another school to be funded by Birkdale, the Flower Field English School, is in the planning, with the acquisition of land ready for construction to start.

Birkdale has now linked up with the University of Sheffield department of civil and structural engineering, and at a training day last week volunteers were taught innovative seismic strengthening techniques, so they can teach builders and residents in Nepal how to minimise future damage to their homes and buildings.

Some repair work will be done to schools during the visit, and data and photographs will help the university to research further.

Volunteer training was given by Dr Darren Weiss of the recently-formed Humble Smile Foundation, who journeyed from Israel to the school to instruct in oral health prevention and treatments, to pass to children and teaching staff in Kokhana.

Medical checks will be carried out during the stay, headed by Dr Stuart Tanner, and it is hoped this will be start of an ongoing connection between the Humble Smile Foundation and Birkdale.

The school is to become one of the first to be involved with the Humble Helpers’ programme to educate children on interlinked topics. Sales of Humble Brushes spark donations of dental health adjuncts by the Foundation, and many toothbrushes will be distributed during the visit.

Large supplies of essential items will be taken by the group, including play parachutes which have even formed temporary classrooms following the earthquake. Pupil records show that children’s health and weight have improved since work began in 2008 treating youngsters with conditions, and providing health checks with vitamins and worming tablets provided to three schools.

Parent Gillian Harrison is one member of the 53-strong volunteer party. She said: “My husband and I have volunteered to go to Nepal with Birkdale School to offer our skills in teaching and engineering, to give support to others less fortunate than us.”