The village of Jalbire, Nepal, is full of survivors. When the massive earthquake of 2015 hit the country, 90% of Jalbire’s homes were destroyed, devastating this community of 1,500 people. Once the dust settled, they wanted to rebuild in a way that would withstand future disasters, but they lacked the knowledge and training to make that happen. Most, moreover, didn’t think it was possible to find materials for homes that wouldn’t crumble in an earthquake.  When our team visited the area two years after the earthquake, many people were still living in temporary shelters, with plastic sheeting.

We try, in any post disaster scenario, to stay involved well after the event, knowing the impact may last for years, even decades. So while, in the immediate aftermath, we had helped provide disaster kits, blankets, clothing and other urgent needs, we had retained some of our Nepal Fund for later rebuilding projects. One of our partners in Nepal, Institution for Suitable Actions for Posterity (ISAP), told us of plans for masons’ training in Jalbire. That seemed a perfect use of our funds.

ISAP used the funding to train 33 young people in earthquake resistant construction. Graduates were given tools and they immediately began rebuilding both their own homes and others’: proof positive that local materials, used correctly, could let them build back better. And, as well as impacting the area, these individuals now have a lifelong skill-set that will help them generate income. So it’s a win-win, as the saying has it, with everybody benefitting.

Funding from Crossroads’ donors helped 33 masons graduate with new, employable skills in earthquake-resistant construction, as well as a set of masonry tools to help them get started.

 

Best of all, if Nature has her way again in the future, she will have a much harder time destroying these newly constructed buildings.

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The digital divide is very real in remote parts of Nepal. About 50% of the population is illiterate and, given the pressure of poverty, there is a high drop-out rate from schools. Even those who stay in school might not emerge with an ideal education as infrastructure and equipment is often insufficient.

Meanwhile, Microsoft told us they were interested in helping people in need. “We were just looking for an opportunity to allow our team to give back in some way to one of the global communities we serve,” they wrote. They came out to Crossroads and took part in our poverty x-perience, the Struggle for Survival, along with a massive volunteering team-build. Following that, they assisted with our shipments, gave Crossroads exceedingly generous software provision and then began discussions about helping people cross the digital divide.

“Our computer lab is really becoming fruitful for students of class 4-8. It’s being nearly 1 year but we can’t express the outcome in words.” School principal to Microsoft.

The result? Microsoft, through a partner group, New Zealand nonprofit, Global Equity Brokers. donated hardware, software and expertise to children in a remote part of Nepal. They gave a fully equipped computer lab, with twenty computers and the needed software. They also sent six members of staff to install it and train the students. This equipped the laboratory to provide 1500 computer training slots for students each week, enabling many to cross the digital divide.

We often say that, in this work, we love to be as our name suggests: a crossroads between people in need and those who can help.

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Nepalese_woman_cleaning_riseWhen Anu’s family fell on hard times, they were forced to pull her out of school. It was a harsh blow for this Nepalese village family, who knew the young girl had huge potential, but they simply couldn’t afford to pay her fees.

Hope finally came to town in the form of an NGO who opened an innovative kindergarten for impoverished families, and they employed Anu’s mother. It brought in enough extra income for Anu to re-enrol in school and finish a high quality education. Today, instead of expecting a lifetime of poverty, Anu has plans to study further and become a civil engineer.

Engagement strategist for Crossroads’ Global Hand, Eric, met Anu when he visited Nepal this year with a Microsoft representative. Microsoft Hong Kong has been designing a project for villages like Anu’s, building computer labs in schools where there are none.

Microsoft Nepal 2The partnership with Microsoft was born when they organised a team day of landscaping and manual work at Crossroads’ site, but weren’t content simply to use their muscle for us! They wanted to use their core strengths but consulted Crossroads for guidance on NGOs who needed their help and how to go about it.

Crossroads worked closely with Microsoft to find partners in Nepal that desperately wanted computers and could use them strategically for the poor. Today, Microsoft is in the final stages of establishing two computer labs in poor communities, and would love to do more.

Can we help your company connect with NGOs that need your help? Email engagement@crossroads.org.hk to talk!

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