ANDY’S READY TO REBUILD A SCHOOL
A DAD from Twyford is making the final preparations for a trip to Nepal to help rebuild a community devastated by an earthquake in 2015.
Andy Barden, 53, of London Road, will set off on the trip this Saturday (November 4) for a two-week expedition which will see him help rebuild a rural school, followed by a trek through the Annapurna foothills.
Mr Barden, who works for a wealth management company, said despite never doing anything like this before, he was looking forward to the trip.
He said: “It all came about because one of the company’s directors climbed Everest in 2014. He had an amazing time, but when the earthquake hit the following year, a lot of the people who he had met along the way were affected. He wanted to do something to help so every year a group from the business travel over to Nepal to help rebuild a part of the community.
“I will be part of the fourth group to go out, and there will be around 12 or 13 of us going from all over the UK.”
Each member of the group has raised £6,000 to cover the cost of building one classroom at Shree Chuni Devi Shiksha Mandir Lower Secondary School in Chunikhel. Andy will be covering his own flights and expenses during the trip.
Andy explained: “These buildings need to be seismically stable to, hopefully, prevent any further tragedies like this in the future.
“As well as building the physical structure, we will be taking books and supplies with us, as much as we can carry really, to help kit out the classrooms, and we will be fundraising later to fund computers and technology so the school has everything it needs.
“So many communities have been trying to rebuild their schools over the last two harsh winters and their children have often had to maintain their studies in cattle sheds and under plastic sheeting stretched over bamboo frames. We desperately want to give Chunikhel back their school. We will live, eat and camp in the school grounds and every day we will help the local builders who will be adding their expertise to the project. I will be digging, shifting rock, mixing cement, whatever it takes and I’m expecting some pretty impressive blisters!”
When the week of building is complete, the group will embark on a week-long trek, which will include scaling Poon Hill, giving the group a stunning view of Everest, before they finish their adventure in the streets of Kathmandu.
Andy said: “I’ve never done anything like this before, but the group have had several weekend treks in the Lake District and across the South Downs to give us a taste of what we will be up against.
“My daughter did a similar trek with The Holt School during the summer. We are both quite adventurous, she absolutely loved her expedition, and it’s meant that we can share some of our kit too!
“My fundraising has gone really well, a lot of my clients have got on board and sponsored me so I am not far off my £6,000, but of course any additional money raised will go back to the school.”
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