Nepal

A story of DRR champions in Nepal - Monika leads for making school safer from disaster

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Monika with her peer during interactive session © Plan

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Monika, a 16-year-old girl from Sunsari (eastern Nepal) has set an example of how girls can lead to support in making their community resilient in time of disasters. As a grade 10 student in a public school, she knew about Plan International's Safe School programme at her own school. Monika showed a keen interest to become a programme participant. Afterwards she attended a number of training sessions being held under the programme. It was the first time she learnt about keeping safe from various types of disaster such as earthquakes, flooding, landslides and fire while in the school, community and family.
Being an active girl in the school, she was nominated as a champion of disaster risk reduction who can contribute in raising awareness about safety at a time of emergency. Like Monika, there are 20 other champions who also follow Monika’s example.

The community she lives in faces multiple hazards such as earthquake, flood, thunderstorms, pandemic, fire and heavy rainfall. Due to limited knowledge and skills to reduce risk, her community payed a high cost in terms of life and properties every year. This year, COVID-19 severely impacted her school and community, which due to this training in resilience people came back to normal conditions and schools reopening after more than eight months.

However, risk of COVID-19 could not be ignored at her school and community. Therefore, as DRR champion she keeps herself busy in raising awareness about making the school and community resilient from the disaster. Her association with the children’s club enabled her to be energetic and built confidence once she took part in several training sessions organsied by the programme. She has orientated 116 peer group members at school and community. Monika is also the chair person of Green Club which provides a platform to its members to talk and learn about making school neat, clean and green.

At a time of COVID crisis, Monika along with other champions were provided training about using masks properly, washing hands and maintaining social distancing to be safe from the Corona virus. In December 2020, she ran a number of sessions to share with her peers so that they can contribute to end the pandemic. Her colleagues at school were excited to learn from her about safety during the pandemic. One of her friends who joined the information session, Saugat, (16-year-old boy) said, “I learned how to wear the mask from the session, before that we even didn't know how to wear it properly.”

Monika continuously imparts her knowledge to the school, families and communities. They believe that proper knowledge and skill can reduce disaster risks in school and communities. She expressed her confidance, “I feel good and confident to share my knowledge to make our commuity safe from the disaster and now including COVID19."

Plan International Nepal and its partner FORWARD has been implementing a safe school programme in her community for the last two years, to support developing the resilience of the community engaging girls and boys and community members. The school and commuity ask Monika to share her knowledge and skills regulary and often leads sessions when asked. She lives with a four family members in a community. Her father is a mason and her mother works in a factory.