Shaking school safety

With ambitions to one day become a doctor, 12-year-old Muskan was looking forward to returning to school after a short break. But now she and her friends will have to wait. The earthquake that shook Nepal three weeks ago had a devastating effect on her school building; with classrooms destroyed and much of the building deemed too unsafe to enter, school has been put on hold. Muskan describes how it feels to live with the uncertainty that the earthquake has brought.

When she was at school, Muskan enjoyed playing the game of 'Gatta' with her best friend Ashmita.

"It is played with five stones. Four stones are left on the floor, then one stone is thrown in the air with one hand and with the other hand we need to pick up one stone from the floor before the other stone comes down, we have to keep repeating it 'til you have all the stones in your hand. We play this game in school during our break time," she explains.

For Muskan, apart from playing with her friends, the best thing about school is that she gets to study.

"I like to read and write. My favourite subject is science. I want to be a doctor. Education is important in my life because I want to be successful and independent when I grow up," she says.

Muskan was excited to get back to school after a holiday when the earthquake struck on 25th April 2015, with several devastating aftershocks following in quick succession.

"We were about to get back to school from a short break when the earthquake happened. Since that time the school has been closed," she says.

Just a few days ago, Muskan and a friend gathered the courage to go back to her school to see the damage the earthquake had done.

"We saw that the building has cracked and the walls are broken. Because of fear, my friend did not want to go close to the building. The building is not safe for us to come back to and study. I too am afraid to study in a cracked building," she says.

Muskan misses school and is eager to get back as soon as she can.

"The things I miss about school is meeting my friends, enjoying and playing with them, I miss my teachers who love and care for me and give me proper guidance," she says.

She hopes that her school can be rebuilt stronger and better.

"If everyone works together, then my school can be rebuilt stronger, where children can come back to study in a safe environment," she says.

Expressing her vision for her new school Muskan says, "I wish for my new school to have a safe environment, toilets and clean water to wash and drink. And rebuild the school stronger so that another earthquake cannot damage it. Teachers and children need a clean, safe and secure environment where we can learn."

No one understands the value of acquiring an education more than her mother Geeta, who dropped out of school due to her family circumstances.

"I had dreams of becoming a teacher but due to the death of my mother I dropped out in Year 12. I don’t want that for my children. I want them to study. We have moved around a lot and that has affected the children’s studies. Now with school closed due to the earthquake, it will doubly affect their education. Education is important as we use it in all aspects of life. I don’t want them to lose out on any more of their studies," says Geeta.

Like every mother, Geeta wishes her children to live happy lives and have a bright future. Muskan still waits in anticipation for her school to be safe again so that she can get back to her class. Until then, she's dreaming big -

"My dream school would have a playground where children can play freely, where there are lots of trees because they give us clean air to breathe, where there are toilets, where we have water taps for drinking water, where the building is strong and where we are taught how to respect our elders."

In the aftermath of the earthquake, at least 950,000 children are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, with many rendered homeless by the earthquake. Through our Nepal Earthquake Appeal, we've been able to distribute tarpaulins used for shelter, blankets, and food aid. Child friendly spaces are also helping traumatised children, with a safe place to play and receive psychosocial support.

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