Elgin Rotarians Visit Nepal

24 Rotarians including 11 from Elgin return from unforgettable trip to Nepal

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Recently returned from visiting water, sanitation and health projects in Nepal are 11 Rotarians and partners from the Rotary Club of Elgin. As part of a party of 24 representing 8 Rotary Clubs in the North East of Scotland the Elgin Rotarians visited a newly completed project in the Nuwakot District north west of Kathmandu and revisited Nepane where they supported a project in 2010. Both of these areas suffered earthquake damage in April 2015.

The party was overwhelmed by the warm welcome from the 574 villagers of Majhitar_Thulotar, some 4 hours from Kathmandu, very impressed by what had been achieved in securing the provision of safe water and deeply moved by the damage caused by the earthquake and the efforts of the villagers in this desperately poor area, to rebuild their houses and lives.

“To celebrate with these villagers and to view their achievements was a great privilege” reports George Duthie, President Elect of Elgin Rotary. “Some 25 tap stands, 50 latrines, new water infrastructure and innovative health and hygiene programmes now mean that the villagers will enjoy healthier lives and will benefit from new economic opportunities through improved irrigation for crops. What the villagers have achieved with the support of NEWAH, (the Nepal Water for Health Group), local Rotary clubs in the North east of Scotland and Tripureswor Rotary, our partner club in Nepal, is deeply impressive and has transformed their lives. That they have done so while having to rebuild their homes, often with minimal financial support, deserves the highest praise. We are delighted that this, Elgin Rotary’s seventh water project in Nepal, is as successful as our previous projects and we look forward to supporting further life-changing projects in that compelling country.”

From Majhitar_Thulotar the Rotarians then faced a gruelling and hair-raising eight hour off-road drive to Nepane in the Gorkha District. Nepane, with the Himalayas as its stunning backcloth, suffered greatly in the 2015 earthquake when its water infrastructure was significantly destroyed by landslides, the school latrines were flattened and several of its tap stands were swept away.

Warmly welcomed to the village, the visitors were able to see that, through the support of Elgin Rotary and Rotary District Grants, rebuilding and restoration had ensured that the villagers once more had a ready supply of safe water and appropriate sanitation, not least at the school. To commemorate the visit, Elgin Rotarians presented the villagers with a photographic album of their visit in 2010, the gift being eagerly accepted and viewed with much interest as the celebrations proceeded.

For Rotarians Graeme Archibald, Alistair Campbell and George Duthie, returning to the Nepane held a special significance and they were very impressed by the developments made since 2010. “The school had expanded to 3 times its original size, the new buildings and solar panels clear evidence of improvements. We were also very pleased to see that the original and restored tap stands were a key part of daily living and that new measures were in place to recycle waste. The support in 2010 had clearly helped to transform the community and it was incredibly reassuring to see how the villagers still valued that provision. That said, it was sobering to see the number of houses damaged by the earthquake and requiring to be rebuilt or indeed replaced.”

For those new to Nepal, the site visits proved to be absolutely memorable, with the need for future water projects absolutely confirmed.

In addition to visiting the water project villages the Rotarians had the opportunity not just to note the many damaged houses in the countryside but also to visit several World Heritage Sites in and around Kathmandu and to view the significant damage and the consequent effects on tourism.

The scale of the damage was far greater than anticipated, with temples having collapsed, towers having disappeared and palace walls destroyed. Whether in solving the challenges of ensuring pure
water or restoring its heritage sites and tourism industry, Nepal remains a country deserving of our support.