After days of exceptionally heavy monsoon rainfall flooded swaths of Northeast India and Nepal this past August, the local Room to Read team offered its skills and resources to aid in the relief effort. Residents of the Bardiya District, one of the hardest-hit regions, described it as the largest flood in their living memory. Over 100 people lost their lives and thousands more, including Room to Read Nepal staff members and students, lost their homes. One of our Girls’ Education Program schools in Barabishe is fewer than two miles away from the area of a major landslide, and one of our social mobilizers was stranded with her family of nine in a tree for over seven hours.
“In order to provide relief efforts to our students, we immediately set out to work,” says Room to Read Bardiya District Coordinator Shanta Rai. Despite the fact that the local Room to Read office was flooded and most of the team member’s homes in the district had also been damaged, the team focused their attention on providing relief materials and support to students’ communities. “Time was of the essence, and we mobilized our resources immediately in the field,” she says."
Home to largest number of Girls’ Education Program participants in Nepal, Room to Read has had an active presence in Bardiya since 2008. We have also supported and constructed a large number of school buildings and libraries in the district. The flood damaged furniture, books, and education resources in 16 of our school libraries and impacted 331 Girls’ Education Program participants. In close coordination with the District Education Office, our team in Bardiya worked to prepare and distribute relief materials to 535 students in the three schools most affected by the flood. The relief package contained essential items for well-being and education such as clothes, paper, pencils and backpacks among other items. The Room to Read team was also able to lend its skills in counseling services and data collection in various districts.
Despite the setbacks of the damages, we are mostly grateful that all of our staff and students are safe and receiving support.
“Without the dedication of our team, it wouldn’t have been possible,” says Rai. “Our team members were also facing the wrath of the flood, but set aside their own struggles to provide much needed assistance.”