By Travis Hughbanks
Off the beaten path from all of the trekking routes of the Solukhumbu, the village of Khastav in the VDC of Basa is very secluded. Things are starting to change, though. Over the past few years efforts have been made to construct a road through the mountainous terrain that will eventually pass near the village. While the road itself is still years from being an accessible route for even the most off-road of vehicles, the excavator that was tasked to rough out the road has made its way deep into the mountains. We were fortunate enough that our construction was scheduled when the excavator was working nearby, and the villagers agreed to allow the “dozer” (the local term for the excavator) to descend through their terraced fields to the project site to speed up the site clearing. The first motorized vehicle in the village was a definite attraction and has helped to put us ahead of schedule.
Community support has been overwhelming in Khastav. Every day hundreds of pounds of gravel broken by hand is delivered to the site by village volunteers. School teachers who have a free period step outside, put on their gloves and grab a shovel. Structural members for the roof have started to arrive from the distant jungle on the backs of villagers taking a break from plowing the fields. Prior to the volunteers arriving we were able to clear the site, finish the foundation and place the first few gravel filled earthbags for Phase 1 of the Basa higher secondary school.
The volunteers arrived on site about a week ago and have really helped to move the project forward. As of two days ago we had completed 5 courses of earthbags, installed two doors and were preparing to set the first two windows. We hope to be finished with the earthbag walls by March 26th on the first building. Excavation is complete for the second building and the retaining wall is under construction. Below are some photos and more updates to follow.