Okanagan volunteers reflect on building classrooms in Nepal

Through the charity Her International, the volunteer group built four classrooms

After spending more than two weeks half-way around the world, installing rebar and waking up to roosters, a group of 14 volunteers are returning home from Nepal.

Since 2013, a group of dedicated volunteers have made the trek to Nepal to build classrooms and schools in what is one of the poorest regions in the world. The build is organized and funded through Her International, a charity dedicated to empowering women and girls through education.

Led by philanthropist and Her International president Kevin Edgecombe, 13 volunteers from Kelowna and one from Quebec built four classrooms at Janata Secondary School in Ghotawa, Dang District.

“We have an amazing group of volunteers working with an amazing group of hardworking people in Nepal who are so deserving of our efforts,” he said.

Locally, Edgecombe is known for building high-end residential projects throughout the Okanagan, which comes in handy when constructing classrooms.

His passion for Her International started during a visit to Nepal in 2009 where he and his wife Linda travelled to Kathmandu and the Dang region where they met many of the now ‘Her sponsored’ girls and mothers.

While in Nepal, the group also painted Unako House, a women’s centre where Tharu mothers make and supply scarves. Unako House was erected back in 2013 alongside Chainpur School.

Building the classrooms in the humid hot climate of Nepal wasn’t an easy task; however Edgecombe says the volunteers worked diligently to make sure the job got done.

RELATED: Former Kelowna woman receives prestigious service medal

Claire Culver is one of those volunteers who helped build the classrooms, she also celebrated her 21st birthday while in Nepal. However this isn’t Culver’s first time celebrating another year older on the other side of the world, when she was 16 she was also part of a Her build.

“I will never forget her telling me that there is nowhere on earth she would rather be on her 16th,” explained Edgecombe.

Other volunteers included a former resident of Karis, a support society for women struggling with addictions and mental health challenges and an Okanagan Rotarian who donated used reading, sun and distance glasses to those in the Dang region.

A fundraising initiative through Her International is for a family or group to donate $100 and have a brick installed on the walls of the women’s centre where Her works in Nepal.

RELATED: Okanagan woman has her sights on donating eyeglasses for the needy

Kelowna mayor Colin Basran and his family donated to the brick initiative, which Edgecome installed himself during this build.

A donation of $33 a month to Her International covers admission and exam fees, group tutoring, school uniforms, shoes and socks, school bags, school supplies and personal hygiene products for one girl and her mother will automatically join a savings and life skills group that will support her in becoming self reliant.

Everyone who attended the build fundraised and paid their own way to be a part of the experience.

Find out more about Her International by clicking here.


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jen.zielinski@bpdigital.ca

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