We are back in Kathmandu and meeting with the organizations the will drive school reconstruction – engineers from the Ministry of Education who will create safer school designs, representatives of the development banks who will fund it, United Nations agency heads who will feed best practices and coordination into the process.
At each meeting, I have been initially wary, but at each we have found people also struggling with how to make schools safer given the budgets, the devastation, the remoteness and lack of capacity from village mason to district engineer. The meetings have often turned into hours of discussion and strategizing. They have been energizing.
A week ago, I sat under a giant community tree on the edge of a school. We had villagers ringing us and Bishnu was explaining how the seemingly random earthquake damage was predictable. We engineers could make sense of the failures and knew what to do. The villagers were hungry to know how to build their schools, their houses, better and grilled us with questions.
We have left each village with ideas for building safer, but it has been only 12 villages out of hundreds of thousands that need the message. Even with a lifetime of time, we couldn’t visit each.
But what if we could? What if we could film these discussions in devastated communities and get them out on TV and radio to the remote communities across the country?
We talked with an non-profit organization representative this morning over hot lemon ginger tea. The ideas and connections ricochets around us. She knows a filmmaker on his way to Nepal. Bishnu is willing to act as star. We’ll script the questions we heard and the messages that we saw light people up. We’ll need to find some funds for the gas and translator to help with the editing, and then work through the government to get it on the public media channels, but we’ll go out and do exactly what we’ve found to work so well – sit under a sacred tree and talk about a better way of building.
Things can be better.