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A Chance Meeting


Airport meeting gives insight into what British Charity CAN is doing in Nepal

Doug Scott, CBE, made the first British ascent of [the south-west face of] Everest in 1975, and since then has wanted to help the mountain people of Nepal.  He founded UK based charity, Community Action Nepal (CAN).  Since CAN started operation in 1994 it has established, and is now sustaining over 40 grass-root projects.

We didn’t get to meet Doug Scott on 11 December 2015[1] (he was off checking other projects at a different location that day) but we did meet Trish, Scott’s wife, CAN’s Administrator from the UK Anne Manger, and local Project Manager Murari Gautam, as they waited to board a Fishtail Air helicopter to take a MAF coordinated flight to Melamchi. Joining the CAN team on the flight was also Melamchi Head Teacher Purna and his wife Thagmu Gautam.  CAN has developed strong links with the Melamchi community over recent years, providing the roof for the community funded Health Clinic, improving the water supply and building the secondary school.  CAN also funds two teachers, teaching materials, musical instruments, training in the use of these instruments and library books for the school.

Head Teacher Purna explained that before the earthquake Melamchi School was a flagship school among public schools in Nepal. The school of 220 (with 140 boarders from the valley) boasted 100% pass rates, an alumni of nurses, teachers and engineers, and even one medical graduate from Manchester, England.  Unfortunately the earthquake totally destroyed everything – not only the whole school, it destroyed the whole village.  There was not one house left standing.  Thagmu (Purna’s wife) explained that she still has neck injuries from being buried in rubble in her home and had to be rescued by one of her sons.

Trish and the team were flying in the B2 helicopter (AKA) from Kathmandu to Melamchi.  Trish explains in her blog that “Because we were a large number and a lot to do Anne and myself flew with Murari and Purna and wife in a MAF helicopter straight to Melamchi. Here we had six hours of a long and calm inspection of everything. When I was here in July it was a very emotional meeting with the community – now they have gathered themselves together, and so have we – it was very useful to go around with Purna, Murari and Kami Lama, the Headman and absorb all their stories – stories of 113 children having lunch when the earthquake struck and not one killed – Purna saved by a table – the drama of dragging his wife Jhamu (Thagmu) from the rubble.”

Their time was short, but thanks to a helicopter flight, the CAN team were able to spend six precious hours with the community in Melamchi listening to their stories and encouraging them.

[1] Alrena Martis and Angela Harding were departing in the other Fishtail Air helicopter (AJI) to Kerauji


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