Apprentice firefighters return after helping school children in Nepal
Children’s education in a remote village in Nepal has been changed for generations thanks to a group of Firefighter and Community Safety Apprentices from Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS).
11 apprentices and three leaders flew out to Kathmandu from Manchester on March 10th and spent 16 days in Nepal trekking to, and working on the project, to provide a new school for children who previously had little or no chance of an education.
Together the group raised over £30,000 for the charity Classrooms in the Clouds (CiTC), which works with Nepalese partners to support education by building good quality, new classrooms, sponsoring teachers, supporting teacher training and encouraging employment of female teachers to support children’s education in the remote villages of Nepal.
Each team member needed to raise a personal target of £2,700 for the project, which formed part of their development programme to become Firefighter and Community Safety Apprentices.
All money raised by the team has gone towards the building of the much needed Early Years Centre in Kharikhola, a remote Nepalese village near Lukla. The build is of earthquake resistant standard and will provide gender specific toilets as well as specialist early years learning resources.
Deputy Chief Fire Officer for Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service Mark Cashin said: “This project not only helps young people in Nepal to gain a better education, but it also enables the Service to motivate its apprentices and get them ready, both physically and mentally, to become firefighters out in the communities of Cheshire, Halton and Warrington.
“Many children in Nepal receive inadequate education or in many cases, no education at all so the Service was more than pleased to help CiTC by raising some much-needed funding for the project. This facility will provide strong foundations for learning, enabling the youngest children in the village access to an education.”
The Service has worked with CiTC for a number of years now and has previously send fire cadets to Nepal. This is the first time it has sent apprentices, and due to the success of this project, there is already another project planned for 2019 with a second cohort of apprentices.
Nepal is the 12th most illiterate country in the world with 54.9% of men and 72% of women not being able to read or write. 47% of girls of primary school age do not attend school and 77.6% of the population are living below the poverty line. 50% of children aged between the ages of 10 and 14 work instead of attending school. Those that do attend school often have to walk long distances to study and maintaining such schools is essential if the rural way of life is to be preserved.
The apprentices, aged between 21 and 24, took two years to raise the money for the project and while in Nepal were required to finish off the rooms ready for students to use and hand the project over to the village at a celebration ceremony.
Apprentice Hollie Barlow said: “The ceremony began with us arriving to the whole community clapping and cheering us. We were all given a prayer scarf and it was very emotional. Following dancing and singing the day ended with us having dinner with the head teacher. I am so glad we were able to help this community. It was truly an amazing day which we will all never forget.”
For more information about the trip please visit the website www.cheshirefire.gov.uk