Do read this inspiring report by John “Mole” Blake, an architect from Saltford, near Bristol.

Congratulations on the success of your team. And for returning safely for the challenge of your 60th birthday on 10th November!

This story is uplifting in every way. It is the sort of charitable adventure that is at the heart of the Cobra Foundation’s set of values. Read on…

The school from our accommodation

My brother Simon has been donating in a small way to this school for several years. He first got involved via a friend in his village who visited Nepal on a regular basis and had become friends with a mountain guide (Deepak) who was brought up in Pokhari and attended the school in the 1980’s. The school has recently had a fire and had to close because the school office with all the records and school books etc. were lost. The purpose of our visit was to see the school for ourselves, meet the headmaster and deliver, via Deepak, the money we had raised for the rebuilding and any further improvements that are necessary to get the school back open.

The view of the valley below from the School

Although the school is no more than 100 miles as the crow flies from Kathmandu it took us 14 hours in two jeeps to get there because of the very mountainous terrain and poor roads.

We arrived at in the dark and rain at 9.00pm on Sunday 1st October having walked the last few miles and were put up in a small tea house on beds that had been especially constructed for our visit. We were woken the following morning by the Cockrell and goats’ bells and some spectacular views of the countryside around.

The school is on a hill side in a very rural location at about 2,500 metres above sea level.

The area it serves is a conglomeration of farmsteads that sit on the side of the steep slopes connected by a rough track that is used by the local bus and all the people in the area to get between their farms. Since the fire the children of Pokhari have to walk about an hour to the next school where the teachers from their school have been re-assigned.

Two classroom wings with the burnt out office in the corner

The school consists of three classroom wings containing 10 classrooms in total with an administration office in the corner. It is the office that has been destroyed by the fire and it was not clear how the fire started. One of the suggested improvements is to put a fence around the school to improve security because it is thought that the fire could have been arson.

The children are put into classes depending on their ability and not age. We were told that there could be as many 30 children of varying ages in each classroom. Which means that the school could have up to 300 pupils being taught at any one time.

Inside one of the classrooms

There was a good deal of interest in our visit with many local people coming to meet us. We met with the headmaster and the local politician who are both very keen to get the school repaired and back in operation.

The local people who came to meet us

There is a toilet block and washing facilities on the slope at the back of the short classroom wing.

Toilet and washing facilities

The local children are always under pressure during the day to help their families in the fields or to sell their produce so the longer it takes to travel to school means that the less children will actually go to school.

We finished our visit with a cup of tea and a presentation of a few calculators, pens etc. for the school and we were all given the traditional Nepalese scarf.

The school has provided an education for the local children for over 30 years and must be re-opened as soon as possible. We continue to raise money for the school to enable the office to be rebuilt and a fence erected around the perimeter and are very grateful to the Cobra Foundation for their donation to this small but important project.