Makita, the UK’s leading professional power tool manufacturer, has helped with the provision of tools to the UK-based, non profit charity, Learning Planet. These tools will be used for their project to continue rebuilding schools in Nepal.
Co-founders Justin Wickham and Dita Chapman have already rebuilt the 14-room secondary school in the remote village of Dhawa which previously had no roads, electricity or piped water. Together they and their team of volunteers and sponsors are responsible for the village’s first solar power supply.
Balmitar is one of many small hamlets surrounding Dhawa, a remote rural community with 4,300 inhabitants spread over 20km of beautiful temperate hillsides. Some130km north west of Kathmandu, the village sits at the gateway to the 1,600km Manaslu Conservation Area – a high sub range of the Himalaya in north-central Nepal, surrounded by many of the highest mountains in the world.
Reaching Dhawa takes nine hours by bus from Kathmandu to Arughat on some of the world’s most dangerous mountain roads. The last 30km takes an incredible four hours and is simply impassable if it rains. From there, you have to walk: about two hours in the dry season and up to 16 hours across the mountains during the monsoon. With tons of building materials and the latest cordless power tools by Makita, getting everything to site is no mean feat.
This is equally no way to go to school and the route crosses steep jungle, prone to landslides and home to several of Nepal’s remaining tigers. The Government has agreed that the smallest children can be taught in a small satellite nursery in Balmitar saving the arduous and dangerous daily trek.
Just about everything, bar steel, tools, nails and cement, is sourced by hand from the surroundings. Stone is cut from the hillside, bricks are baked from village clay, sand is collected at the river bank and wood is harvested from the huge Sal trees – one of the world’s best hardwoods – in the tightly controlled community forest.
Justin Wickham project manages the project, recruiting local and international expertise. He will lead the team of carpenters creating an internal structural frame, doors, windows, roof trusses and carved eave and knee braces.
The villagers will mine 100 cubic metres of stone, cut and transport wood from the jungle and help clear the site, and a steady stream of volunteers will assist as labourers.
“We’re constantly wowing the local carpenters with the Makita cordless tools – especially the recipro’ and circular saws – and the impact driver,” says Justin. “Driving a 4 inch bolt into wood harder than oak, in a couple of seconds, always gets their attention. I’m helping them rebuild a dangerous bridge this summer as some small children fell through it recently and one didn’t survive – and I know we wouldn’t be able to do it without the Makita impact driver.” Sponsors include: Epson, Environ, Lemnis Lighting, British Airways, Kingfisher and Makita UK.