Earthquake 2015

More than 8'500 people died in Nepal after the earthquake of April 25th 2015 with the epicenter in the north-west of Kathmandu. A massive number of people lost everything - especially the poor inhabitants of the mountainous areas near Kathmandu. The reconstruction of the destroyed buildings will take many years. ROKPAs focus is on the reconstruction of schools in remote areas.

Rebuilding Dhanmale School, Jiri disctrict - Video by Tal Siano

New homes for ROKPA Workshop Women

What happened before

Progress report on two school rebuilding projects in the Jiri region – Update 06/13/2016


Dhanmale Lower Secondary School

The school buildings all suffered major damage. Before the earthquakes of 2015, it offered a nursery and classes up to grade 8 for 236 children aged between 5 and 16.

ROKPA started rebuilding the school in February and the works should be terminated by the end of July 2016.

Sustainability and local production being an important principle for ROKPA, timber, clay and rocks are being sourced from the Dhanmale area, other materials come from the nearby Jiri and Mainapokhari and some from Kathmandu.

The newly constructed buildings are built with ” Dhajji walls” (see pictures): they are a style of construction used in Pakistan and Northern India to resist the destructive power of earthquakes. Using timber frames with diagonal elements, filled with tight stone masonry makes for a solid and safe wall.

The wall infill should end soon, leaving window making and installation, plastering and roof to be done.

All the workers come from the local community, the longest trip being a 30 minutes walk.


Jiri Monastery School

Since the beginning of May the same building crew as for the Dhanmale School is working on the rebuilding of the Hostel for 30 monks of this small monastery school that was badly damaged by the earthquakes. It is situated in the Jiri Region as well, close to the Dhanmale project.

The plan is to finish foundation concrete work as soon as possible and install the corrugated iron roof to protect the works and allow continuation despite the monsoon.

End of Border Blockade, Rebuilding Dhanmale Lower and Secondary school, new homes for Workshop Women – Update 03/24/2016

Construction works at Dhanmale School
Temporary class rooms at Dhanmale School

The blockade of the Indian-Nepalese border paralyzed the freight transport from India to Nepal for several months. This led to shortage of gas and building materials, making the rebuilding process after the Earthquake very difficult. The blockade has been officially declared ended by now. Supply conditions are slowly getting back to normal. 

A school in the mountainous region of the Jiri disctrict, about 10 hours by bus from Kathmandu: Of the 5 school buildings, two were completely destroyed and one severely damaged by the earthquake. 236 pupils aged 5 to 16 years are enrolled at this school; the educational offer covers everything from kindergarden up to 8th grade. Ten teachers currently give their lessons in temporary barracks at confined space. ROKPA covers the costs for the reconstruction and works closely with the local population. We are supported by two volunteers: an architect from South Africa and a draftsman from Australia.

Most of the ladies who work in the ROKPA Women's Workshop have been with us for many years. ROKPA has now sponsored new houses for them as their rented rooms had all been gravely damaged by the earthquake. The houses may not look like much to us here, but to them they represent their whole universe and a security they never knew before. Before many had to beg in the streets - Now they have secure jobs, their children have been sponsored through school and College and -cherry on the cake: they own their own little houses now!

Reconstruction of a school destroyed by the earthquake – Update 2015/08/07

This part of the school building was completely destroyed by the earthquake.
The temporary classroom after the earthquake.
Cheap and earthquake-proof: rice bags filled with soil build the external walls for the new school (picture taken from another project).
The architect and the principal taking soil samples for construction.
Measuring the planned building on the new premises.

Patric, a volunteer ROKPA project coordinator has spent the past few weeks preparing an evaluation of potential reconstruction projects. Besides our financial contribution to the construction of a sewing workshop (see update from 9th of July), we have decided as a next step to rebuild a school in the district of Sindhupalchok. This school was almost completely destroyed by the earthquake. It was attended by around 200 children and consisted of 8 classrooms and a kindergarten.

Our committed architect on site wishes to rapidly push ahead with the construction, so that the children can go back to school by the end of the year. As the small road to the area is impassable for trucks at the moment due to the monsoon, we are planning to use an unorthodox but proven construction method: rice bags filled with soil are placed on top of each other to build the walls of the new building. Iron girders for the roof frame can be taken from the destroyed old school building.

A couple of days ago the Nepali government announced that the reconstruction of schools will only be permitted if they comply with a new catalogue of criteria. We therefore have to wait until this catalogue is published. We assume, however, that only minor changes will need to be made to our original project planning.

Enable women to help themselves – Update 2015/07/09

For ROKPA the principle of “Helping people to help themselves” is key, also now after the Earthquake. ROKPA aims to particularly support women and girls, often being the most vulnerable in society. We decided to cooperate with a successful handicraft association providing an income to, primarily female, craft producers. A major part of the weavers in this association has lost their homes as well as their working tools, the looms, and cannot go on producing their products, even though client orders are there. They used to work from home. At the time of writing, they have not had an income for over 2 months.

Looking for a solution, ROKPA agreed to a joint venture, giving financial support in order to build a Workshop with 9 looms as well as a warping machine for 9 weavers, living in the region of Thankot, one hour from Kathmandu. One of the weavers owns land that she is willing to make available for this purpose for the duration of at least 10 years. The partner association has the expertise and will coordinate the construction. 

Building new homes, repairing the Children’s Home - Update 2015/07/02

7 women of the ROKPA Women’s Workshop have lost their homes due to the Earthquake.
The ROKPA Children’s Home is being repaired floor by floor.

Due to the earthquakes seven of the women working at the ROKPA Women’s Workshop in Kathmandu have lost their homes. They are still living on the free ROKPA Land. ROKPA Founder Lea Wyler, during her recent stay in Nepal, has discussed housing possibilities for the affected women with the ROKPA Team members in Nepal.

The General Manager of ROKPA Nepal as well as other ROKPA Employees are former street children who grew up in the ROKPA Children’s Home. They know the local situation and people as well as what it means to live in need and how best to help. The conclusion is that ROKPA will support the women financially to (re-)build their own homes.

Meanwhile the Children’s Home is being repaired – floor by floor. At the moment they work on the first floor, where a whole wall has to be removed and replaced. The whole process will take several weeks . As the Children’s Home has not been severely damaged in comparison to thousands of other buildings in Kathmandu, this gives an idea about the dimension of the catastrophe. 

Schooling resumed, children back in the Children’s Home - Update 2015/06/05

Ready for the first day at school after the Earthquake.
Building shelters.

Despite many cracks in the walls the children have moved back into the Children’s Home after it was examined by building specialists. The fear of aftershocks is still intense. Last weekend there was another earthquake with the magnitude of 4.8. The children are happy though to have a solid roof over their heads again.

Schooling resumed a couple of days ago. At some schools temporary facilities had to be built as they were damaged by the earthquakes. As many teachers are still absent schooling mostly takes place only in the morning. The subjects are mainly limited to dancing, sports and drawing.

Meanwhile we are working on our shelter project (see photo) and hope to deliver the first ones in the next few days. Planned are about 50 units. Also we are taking measures to set up daycare facilities and schools for the children in remote areas where they did not receive any help yet. This is mostly the case where the ‘untouchables’ live. We expect that our mission for the earthquake-affected population will continue for several years.

Task-Force Missions completed – Update 2015/05/20

The ROKPA Children living in tents on the empty land.
Metal parts for the new emergency shelters to be built.

Our Task-Force was on the road for the past 3 weeks shipping relief supplies to remote villages. About 150 people have been treated medically. More than 6 tons of food, 70 tents and almost 170 tarps have been distributed to about 800 households. By now, many people have received assistance in one form or another. As ROKPA is not specialized in these kinds of emergency action, we now want to focus our activities on the long-term help in reconstruction.

The next big challenge will be the monsoon season, which brings a lot of rain from June to August. Thousands of Nepali have been without shelter since the Earthquake. ROKPA therefore concentrates on building emergency shelters on the free land next to the Children’s Home. The tents are replaced by solid shacks, latrines are installed.

Experts examined the ROKPA Children’s Home again after the second heavy Earthquake and they state that it’s safe – this time though “without taking any responsibility for additional hidden damages”. Therefore the children sleep outside for the time being and help in building new shelters. Schools are still not running in Kathmandu yet.

New major Earthquake – Update 2015/05/12

ROKPA Taskforce handing out tarps in remote areas.
People gathering on the ROKPA Land in Kathmandu.

Another major earthquake hit Nepal today. The ROKPA children ran out onto our open land once again, where they will also spend the night. Fortunately we have tents left that were not yet distributed by our ROKPA Task Force. So the children don’t have to sleep in the open as after the first earthquake 2 weeks ago. There are  approximately 150 people staying on our land again and we provide them with food and shelter.

The ROKPA Task Force was on the road today distributing goods and providing medical care when it happened. They are safe and on their way back to Kathmandu. They plan to head back to remote areas first thing tomorrow morning.

Important note for donations going to earthquake vicitims in Nepal - Update 05/05/2015

Your donation will reach the victims rapidly and efficiently!

Due to ROKPA's presence in Nepal for 35 years we have safe and direct channels available, which do not pass through the Disaster Relief Fund of the Prime Minister.

The ROKPA children moved back to the ROKPA Children’s Home on Saturday May 2nd. They had been sleeping outdoors for one week. Both the Children's Home as well as the ROKPA Guest House have been checked and approved as safe by experts. The building specialists were provided by the Swiss Embassy in Kathmandu.

A mobile emergency team consisting of volunteers and older ROKPA Kids are already out delivering urgently needed goods such as food, clean water, medicine, tents and tarpaulins to needy people in the most badly earthquake-affected areas. They will also provide first aid support.



Earthquake Nepal - Update 2015/04/29


The situation in Nepal is still very complex. Experts predict further aftershocks. The children of the ROKPA Children's Home therefore still spend day and night outside. Our open land next to the Children's Home proves to be a blessing. Many people from the surrounding area find refuge with us.

These destitute people depend on our help now. We are in the process of organizing shipment of aid supplies such as tents, medicine and clothes. Our goal is to set up some kind of "Emergency Relief Center" together with volunteers.

As soon as we have more information, we will publish them here.



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Message from Lea Wyler, co-founder of ROKPA - 2015/04/27

Our children sleeping out in the field last night
ROKPA Children preparing food outside

Dear friends

Just to let you know that our children are ok. All of them were in our dining room saying prayers before lunch when it happened so having had training of what to do , they all ran outside. Since then they have been sitting on your new land opposite the Children's Home and even cooked there. They will sleep there too as it is not safe to go back in. BJ, ROKPA child, now manager there, has been amazing and immediately after managed to let me see them and greet them through skype. But mostly the contact is cut off.
We don't have any news of some of the older children who were outside and if relatives and friends.
I have been getting messages and queries from all over the world. Thank you for your compassion.

Many have asked me what they can do now to help:
I think at this moment the best you can do is raise funds for us. There are cracks in the walls of our Home and we think there will be so much damage to repair. And people to help and relatives to find and clothes to hand out etc

So whatever help you can give now and collect will be enormously appreciated ! Thank you for your kindness!

Lea Wyler
Vice President and Co Founder
Project Manager Nepal