Providing urgently needed supplies for earthquake-hit school

Co-founders of Rebuilding Schools Nepal, Helen Woodward and Rafik Iddin, first discovered the Antarastriya Yuba Barsa Secondary School in Nepal while trekking in the region in April 2015.

Later that month, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake devastated Nepal. Over 8,000 people lost their lives, and in total, eight million have been affected. Out of this number, 1.7 million are children.

Classrooms moved into makeshift tents

Helen and Rafik set up the charity after meeting with the school’s head teacher, Kamal Bikram, who inspired them to work with the school, and pledge their support after the earthquake.

With limited knowledge of marketing and PR, Helen and Rafik applied for free communications support through Media Trust’s media volunteer service.

The school is for children from five villages in the Ramechhap District of Nepal serving a population of 3,200. When the pair originally visited the school, there was a need for additional classrooms and resources, which would enable the children to complete their schooling. After the earthquake the need was even more pressing. The existing classrooms were so seriously damaged that the school had been moved into makeshift tents.

We know lots about children’s services, education and training. We don’t know about media and PR

Helen Woodward, Co-founder, Rebuilding Schools Nepal

Reaching out to wider audiences

Rebuilding Schools Nepal operates on a tiny budget and solely through volunteers, yet they set themselves a target of raising £20,000 over 18 months to support the school in Nepal.

They reached out to the Media Trust’s media volunteer service to ask for communications support but they are such a small cause that they did not know what kind of support to ask for. Co-founder Helen Woodward, says: “We know lots about children’s services, education and training. We don’t know about media and PR.”

Helen asked Media Trust to find her a volunteer who could understand the charity’s needs; both Helen and her partner work full time and focus on their charity work in the evenings. They wanted someone to help them understand how to reach a bigger audience and get more targeted support.

Helen says, “We don’t have people we can call on to help – our friends have been great but you can’t keep going back to them.”

Rebuilding Schools Nepal are a small outfit who understandably haven’t got cash to splash about or much time to devote to communications

James Peacock, Communications Volunteer

The public begin to respond

Media Trust set Rebuilding Schools Nepal up with freelance communications consultant, James Peacock, through our online volunteer platform. James worked with the charity to identify what their immediate aims were, so that he could maximise the communications effort in areas where they would see results.

He tells us: “Rebuilding Schools Nepal are a small outfit who understandably haven’t got cash to splash about or much time to devote to communications. They are extremely focused on the aim of the charity – rebuilding a school destroyed in an earthquake, and secondly, as a consequence, trying to help improve education for the village children.

“The contact has had to be via the phone as they are based in the North-West and I live in South-West England, but it has not really been a problem as the organisation’s driving force and my contact Helen Woodward is engaging, focused and easy to get on with.”

After a few lengthy phone calls with the charity, including a three-way call with the charity and an events organisation working on a launch event, James spent some time trying to analyse where Rebuilding Schools Nepal might use their current content more wisely. He reviewed their website, blogs and social media and made suggestions about how to improve these to get a better public response.

He also helped them to develop ideas to piggy-back onto existing initiatives within schools.

Through the Media Trust we’ve had the invaluable support, challenge and advice of James

Helen Woodward, Co-founder, Rebuilding Schools Nepal

Safe drinking water and new toilets

The charity had recruited a BBC filmmaker to support them with making a pro bono video but they did not know how to use this effectively. James wrote a script for Rebuilding Schools Nepal to use in the film. He then supported the charity in using the video to tell their story in an engaging way, from the personal perspectives of those involved in the school, to reach wider audiences.

To date, Rebuilding Schools Nepal have raised funds and delivered money to pay for two years’ worth of stationery for the children to use in lessons, a safe drinking water supply to the school and provided six composting toilets. They have also been able to supply the school children with a projector and a screen to use in their studies.

After such a fantastic response to their campaign, Rebuilding Schools Nepal have decided to raise their fundraising target to £35,000, with a focus on building new earthquake-resistant classrooms.

Helen Woodward said, “Through the Media Trust we’ve had the invaluable support, challenge and advice of James. He’s knowledgeable, specific, responsive, committed and really quite funny! I leave every conversation with new ideas about what to do next, more aware of possible resources I can be bold enough to draw on, and enlightened by a different professional perspective.”

James Peacock said, “It’s a pleasure to be able to help such a nice bunch of people in whatever way I can.”

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