This T-shirt Left on Everest is Transforming Life Vision Academy

Photo courtesy of Peter Ford.

Photo courtesy of Peter Ford.

In April of 2015, Peter Ford was on his way to Mt. Everest. His daughter Skyler turned 14 while he was trekking, and on her birthday, Peter left a t-shirt for her at the last teahouse before Everest Basecamp. Along with the birthday message he wrote on the shirt, he gave Skyler instructions for her to find it when she made her own trip up there one day.

Very fortunately, Peter returned home from Nepal right before the 7.8-magnitude earthquake sent a fatal avalanche down through the Basecamp and took thousands of lives across the country. Ever since seeing the news of the earthquake's devastation, Skyler has been determined to visit Nepal and leave a positive impact however she can.

Now, Skyler is fulfilling that goal, and CYF is thrilled to be a part of it. This summer, she will be coming to Nepal, retrieving the shirt her dad left for her two years ago, and volunteering at CYF's Life Vision Academy. Joined by Peter, her mom Rachel, her friend Catherine Torres, and Catherine's mom Sian, Skyler will first complete the challenging trek to Everest Basecamp, finding Peter's old teahouse along the way. After the trek, the group will spend a week with us at Life Vision Academy to paint our newly-constructed boarding school. By offering to fundraise for and physically paint our new classrooms, the Ford and Torres families are bringing us one huge step closer to opening a fully complete school for 200 students. 

Skyler and Catherine, who are both in 10th Grade at the Kent Place School in Summit, NJ, have set up an online crowdfunding campaign to buy the paint supplies for our school. In less than two weeks, they have already raised over $5,000! To support Skyler and Catherine's mission to make their trip to Nepal leave a lasting impact, please visit their fundraising page. They are also holding a book drive to fill up our school's new library. If you would like to contribute any storybooks or coloring books for them to bring to children in Nepal, please contact us at info@cyfnepal.org. 

Thank you to the Ford and Torres families for sharing your incredible and unique story, for your commitment to sustainably impacting Nepal, and for supporting the students of LVA! We are so excited to be a part of your inspiring adventure.

April 25.

One year ago, at 11:56am local time, everything changed.

April 25's 7.8-Magnitude earthquake tore through Kathmandu Valley and turned our world upside down. On this symbolic anniversary of April 25, we invite you to join us in reflecting upon the year that has passed and the thousands of lives that were lost.

One year later, our community is still shaking. We have had hundreds and hundreds of earthquakes since that day.

One year later, our community is still strong. Because of everyone who supports and encourages CYF, we have been able to stay determined and optimistic throughout this challenging year. We are continually inspired by the resilience of the Nepali population, and together, we are infinitely stronger than the #NepalQuake.

If you were to fly to Kathmandu today, you would still see rubble on nearly every street corner. Major temples and UNESCO heritage sites remain unrepaired, solemn ghosts next to posters of their former selves, showing tourists what they used to look like. It won't take you long to spot a damaged building with huge cracks running top to bottom; unfortunately, it is hard to spot the cracked ones that were painted over in an attempt to look repaired, yet still suffer from dangerous internal damage and could collapse at any time. Camps of earthquake survivors living in tents are still scattered across the city. And, of course, the earthquakes themselves are still coming.

Boudha Stupa, a UNESCO heritage site, under reconstruction in December 2015. 

Boudha Stupa, a UNESCO heritage site, under reconstruction in December 2015. 

Nepal has had hundreds and hundreds of aftershocks and new earthquakes since April 25's. Today, it is still common to have ones roll through that are over 5.0-Magnitude. This becomes of higher concern during the upcoming rainy season, as earthquakes like this can cause landslides, as they did on a huge scale last spring. These ongoing tremors also add to the psychological damage of last April's quake, particularly because Nepal is still expecting "The Big One" - a seismologically overdue earthquake, possibly even higher than an 8.5. As CYF 6th grader Mingma Lama put it, "Nowadays the earthquakes will come sometimes, and we all feel scared." It's hard to tell what will happen next when the ground starts shaking, so this tumultuous pattern continues to keep us alert at all times.

While these rumbles have become routine, it is 11:56am on April 25 that is still engrained in countless minds. Anyone who was in the valley can tell you exactly where they were in that moment, and how the ground rolled like an ocean. Our kids at CYF frequently mention the time, 11:56, when they talk about their memories of the earthquake. That one moment is impossible to forget.

Immediately after that moment, people around the world jumped into action, responding to what had happened in Nepal. Ever since, our CYF team has been working every day to rebuild our community, stand by our neighbors, and put all of your donations to their best use.

Kamala Tamang, the head stitcher at CYF's Haushala Cooperative, has led many of our earthquake relief projects across the valley.

Kamala Tamang, the head stitcher at CYF's Haushala Cooperative, has led many of our earthquake relief projects across the valley.

After the first earthquake, we joined together with friends, family, neighbors and organizations under the CYF Collective, a collaborative group to provide organized and effective relief aid. We delivered trucks and trucks full of emergency supplies and blankets, set up temporary shelters and classrooms, and built toilets in destroyed villages. We also brought rescue helicopters to remote areas, and set up sewing centers to provide earthquake survivors with business opportunities.

The CYF Collective's first helicopter rescue mission transported Furke Lama, age 55, from Dhap, Sindhupalchowk to the Dhulikhel Hospital. Her multiple injuries included a rib bone fracture, deep forearm wound, possible sepsis, and a severe chest infection. This rescue mission, led by Dr. Sajal Shakya, Dr. Roshan Piya, and Prajwan Shrestha, also airlifted two others to the hospital. During the same trip, they dropped 350 kilos of relief items to Gunsa, Sindhupalchowk as well. This helicopter trip was funded by our friend Marie Claire in France.

The CYF Collective's first helicopter rescue mission transported Furke Lama, age 55, from Dhap, Sindhupalchowk to the Dhulikhel Hospital. Her multiple injuries included a rib bone fracture, deep forearm wound, possible sepsis, and a severe chest infection. This rescue mission, led by Dr. Sajal Shakya, Dr. Roshan Piya, and Prajwan Shrestha, also airlifted two others to the hospital. During the same trip, they dropped 350 kilos of relief items to Gunsa, Sindhupalchowk as well. This helicopter trip was funded by our friend Marie Claire in France.

In order to achieve sustainable, long-term recovery in Kathmandu Valley, we focused in on what we consider the most important part of society to protect and invest in: education. On April 26, 2015, over one million children in Nepal woke up without a classroom. We partnered up with a few government schools in the valley that had been destroyed, working together to completely restore them. Today, reconstruction is almost complete in the Shree Bagh Bairav school of Kaleswor, Lalitpur, and the Milan Primary School of Chyasingkharka, Kavrepalanchowk. Shree Bagh Bairav's reconstruction was funded through CYF by the fundraising initiatives of Alex Trulock from Alabama.

The Milan Primary school was completely destroyed, only a short time after it was first built.

The Milan Primary school was completely destroyed, only a short time after it was first built.

Reconstruction underway in Kaleswor!

Reconstruction underway in Kaleswor!

We also sustained significant damage at our own school, Life Vision Academy, where our dormitory was destroyed. We are now in the process of moving to a new location in Godavari, away from earthquake damage. When the first earthquake hit in April, our kids camped out on the basketball court for a few weeks, until we were able to put up three prefabricated houses as temporary and safe places to live. Putting a roof over our kids' heads was possible because of support from our friends, family and global community.

Bindu in a power stance outside one of our three new homes.

Bindu in a power stance outside one of our three new homes.

One of these houses was funded by the Dan Fredinburg Foundation, which was established to honor the life of Google executive, climate activist and life-loving adventurer Dan Fredinburg. Dan tragically lost his life at Mount Everest Base Camp when the earthquake caused a devastating avalanche. The DFF was founded by his family and friends to honor Dan's commitments to life, education, children in Nepal, social movements and outstanding passion for this world we live in. We are extremely honored to include Dan's legacy in our school through this safe home for our students.

From www.thedanfredinburgfoundation.org. 

From www.thedanfredinburgfoundation.org. 

To everyone out there in the CYF community and beyond, we thank you for standing with us on this terrifying day one year ago. We extend our condolences to everyone who has lost a loved one to the earthquakes, and we extend our support to everyone who is still recovering. And we thank you, everyone in our worldwide CYF family, for sending us your support and hope in all of the days that followed, and for getting us through this challenging year.

If you'd like to make a commemorative impact today, please sign our pledge of remembrance or donate to our ongoing earthquake relief fund. All donations will go directly towards rebuilding schools across the Kathmandu Valley. 

The earthquake was so bad. I will never forget it. I wish that this day would never come back again. But, don’t worry about us.
— Roshan Lama, Class 6

6 Months Since #NepalQuake: Where We Are Today

On April 25, everything changed.

Today marks six months since the 7.8-magnitude earthquake devastated Kathmandu Valley, triggering hundreds of earthquakes and aftershocks. These six months have been a roller coaster. Our relief projects would not have been possible without the support of our donors and friends. Thank you all for everything you've done to help Nepal rebuild. Your impact has truly made a world of a difference. 


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All donations to our earthquake relief fund enabled us to deliver immediate aid and to develop long-term recovery projects. We distributed emergency supplies, set up temporary shelters, and helped rebuild schools. We reached villages that the government never helped. We brought a rescue helicopter to remote areas. And we put a roof over the heads of our own children, replacing our crumbled dormitory with three prefabricated houses.


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All donations to Life Vision Academy have brought us closer than ever to a new school facility. When construction concludes next year, we'll open the doors of our dream home to 200 children. The earthquake took countless victims, including education; over one million students didn't have a school anymore on April 26. The new LVA will provide long-term earthquake relief by giving more kids a place to learn and the tools to grow.


It's not only about monetary donations; your friendship and solidarity have powered us through these six months. We've received so much support from friends, family, mentors and (former) strangers all around the world. The helpfulness of your hope, concern and advice is unquantifiable. Thank you for taking on this disaster with us. We are so grateful to have you as a part of our community.


We've come a long way, but we still have so much left to do. Together, we can keep rebuilding Nepal and create a safe future for the youngest generation. By donating today, you can help us finish these relief projects and push on towards our future. Thank you for your support!

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Saturday Spotlight: Man Kumari Tamang, Principal of Milan Primary School

Man Kumari Tamang is an outstanding leader who is continuously working to give her students a better education. She is the principal of Milan Primary School, which is an anomaly in Nepal where school principals are almost always male. Not only does she shatter gender norms, but she also drives her community with a strong vision and commitment to educating the future of Nepal.

Man had just finished the Milan Primary School when the devastating earthquake struck Nepal on April 25.

Her classrooms collapsed. Stones, metal and boulders crushed the classrooms as the walls fell apart. It was impossible to continue having classes. Fortunately the earthquake occurred on a Saturday, so the children were not in class when the ceilings fell.

Children and Youth First was taken by Man’s steadfast determination to her students and her enthusiasm for education. We selected Milan Primary School to be one of the four schools with whom we partnered in our earthquake relief work. We have helped them build temporary shelters and classrooms, and we brought school supplies and toys to the children.

A CYF volunteer delivering whiteboards to the school. Man has been able to continue teaching classes using school supplies and temporary classrooms funded by CYF donors.

A CYF volunteer delivering whiteboards to the school. Man has been able to continue teaching classes using school supplies and temporary classrooms funded by CYF donors.

Man’s school originally taught up to third grade, but she wants to expand through fifth grade, making it a complete primary school. Milan Primary School is located in Chyasingkharka in the Kavrepalanchowk district. Kavre is one of the poorest districts in Nepal, and it suffered incredible losses in the earthquake -- including significant damage to many of its schools. According to Kathmandu Today, 255 schools in Kavre district have been damaged due to the devastating earthquake. Primary school in Nepal is supposed to be free and compulsory through fifth grade, but the Ministry of Education has not been working to rebuild thousands of schools ruined in the earthquake.

Starting in November, CYF will help Man rebuild her school building to create a safe, permanent space for her community’s children to learn. 

 

An engineer at work, planning how to rebuild the lost sections of Man’s school.

An engineer at work, planning how to rebuild the lost sections of Man’s school.

Kamala, the head stitcher at CYF’s Haushala Women’s Cooperative, has been leading our earthquake relief work. She is working closely with Man to provide the support Milan Primary School needs most.

Man is an inspirational community leader who is visibly changing Nepal’s future; thanks to our donors, CYF is able to support her incredible leadership and changemaking. You can directly support Man’s school rebuilding fund here in our donors’ store!

Relief, Rebuilding, and Resilience: CYF's Work since the April 25 Earthquake

Houses and schools collapsed. Families and dreams were shaken. The devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal on April 25th left the country deeply wounded and traumatized. Upwards of 10,000 people were killed, thousands were injured, and approximately 2.8 million people lost their homes.

While most global news headlines completely dropped Nepal a few days later, or at least after mid-May's second large quake, the quakes' impacts and dangers have not at all disappeared on the ground. People of all ages have lived in constant fear for weeks, as hundreds of aftershocks and tremors have arrived day by day. Further, Nepal's monsoon season is continually challenging rebuilding efforts, bringing frequent landslides and destroying roads to villages that need aid.

Many of our Life Vision Academy students and women from our Haushala cooperative are from villages that were completely wiped out. The dormitory building at LVA cracked, forcing our students and staff to sleep outside for weeks. We set up camp on our basketball courts, gathering together materials for makeshift tents. Our kids were forced to spend many nights outside in the rain, but we were fortunate that everyone was alive and safe.

Life Vision Academy students were forced to sleep outside in the cold after the earthquake.

Life Vision Academy students were forced to sleep outside in the cold after the earthquake.

CYF immediately started looking for ways to provide shelter for our students. By mid-May, we had installed our first prefabricated house, thanks to the prefab housing company that prioritized our children and gave us a year to pay off the price.

CYF's first fabricated house provided our children a temporary shelter from rainy nights.

CYF's first fabricated house provided our children a temporary shelter from rainy nights.

Quarters were cramped, but we were able to fit enough beds for our junior students (ages 3-7) and all our girl students. Unfortunately, the older boys remained outside in the tents. Our priority has been to get them inside as soon as possible - but, as boys will be boys, they say they've been having fun camping out!

Haushala and the children in our first fabricated house

Haushala and the children in our first fabricated house

In August, we were able to set up our second and third prefabricated houses. Thanks again to our incredible donors and a loan from the company, all of our children and live-in staff have a roof over their heads. We are so grateful for the support we’ve had so far!

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We put a roof over our children's heads thanks to the support of our donors and the fabricated house company.

We put a roof over our children's heads thanks to the support of our donors and the fabricated house company.

This also wouldn’t have been possible without our friends and staff members on the ground, literally building these houses from the ground up. Because the earthquake has caused such extreme labor shortages, we pulled together our own labor team to pour the cement, lay the bricks, and set up each entire house. From LVA staff members to our women’s cooperative didis, from older students to friends from Kathmandu, we had pairs and pairs of selfless hands determined to make a safe, comfortable home for our kids.

Our staff members helped us build our houses from the ground up.

Our staff members helped us build our houses from the ground up.

Our earthquake relief work didn’t stop with our school. Children and Youth First has worked with other community organizations and formed the CYF Collective, a network for earthquake relief that was featured on CNN. Together, we have actively coordinated earthquake relief work in numerous villages. We delivered daily necessities including food, medical supplies, clothing items and tents to villages where relief efforts had not reached yet. We reached villages in remote areas of Lalitpur, Sindhupalchowk, Kavrepalanchowk, Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, Nuwakot, Gorkha, Sindhuli, and Dhading districts. We set guidelines for distributing the supplies to respect the ownership and responsibility that local community organizations have in their village and to ensure the proper monitoring of our work.

The work has not been easy, but we have carefully and collectively powered through.

We have also partnered up with four government schools that were destroyed in the earthquakes, to help them build temporary shelters and classrooms. We provided metal sheets for reconstruction work, school supplies and toys for the kids, and more. Our kids also traveled to these government schools to perform for their students, spreading smiles through art, music, and friendship during this difficult time.

Children and Youth First believes education is the most important institution in a community. The earthquakes, however, have rendered it impossible for many to continue running a school. UNICEF estimates that around 24,000 classrooms in Nepal were damaged, leaving 950,000 children out of school.

The earthquakes turned many classrooms into rubble.

The earthquakes turned many classrooms into rubble.

Children are vulnerable to tragic disasters and need to have a place to learn, grow, heal from the trauma, and be supported by their peers and teachers. We want to provide as much help as we could give to the devastated communities. We selected the four government schools we support based on the destruction they endured, the amount of resources they received for support, and political affiliation of the village. We took political affiliation into consideration because villages with political ties can easily receive help while those without ties experience difficulties getting support.

We have also set up two new hubs of our Haushala cooperative in villages for long-term business opportunities. Like much of our earthquake relief, this entire project is led by Kamala didi, our incredible leader in the Haushala women’s cooperative. Under Kamala’s leadership, we have installed sewing machines and will be teaching women and men how to stitch, sew and knit.

Kamala didi is leading long-term relief projects.

Kamala didi is leading long-term relief projects.

These newly trained members will take orders that are outsourced from our cooperative’s home base. Through these hubs, we will also train women in skills such as carpentry and metalwork. These skills will help the women lead rebuilding efforts, take control over their lives and their communities’ obstacles. Our training will also allow the women to earn independent income in a sustainable way and challenge traditional gender norms and stereotypes.

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The earthquake has left Nepal in great damage, but we see hope. We are doing our best in supporting our own kids, the local community, and various villages through relief work as well as long-term school reconstruction and business projects. Our endeavors to recover from the disaster has been joined by many donors, local people, and other organizations. We would like to give our sincere thanks to all of our donors who have generously supported all of our work. Your dedicated support is helping us build a new future for Nepal.

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