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B.C. charity founder pledges to rebuild Nepalese school swept away by flash floods

Six years after an earthquake killed more than 9,000 people, Nepal faces another catastrophy
Yangri Academic Centre staff helped educate a total of 184 children this year. (Peter Schaeublin)

After flash floods swept away a school built by a North Vancouver charity, its CEO and founder is making a pledge to rebuild.

“Rebuild we will because we must not, ever, give up on children,” says Daniel Burgi.

His organization, Himalayan Life, helped finance the construction of Nepal’s Yangri Academic Centre and dormitories after a 2015 earthquake devastated the valley, killing more than 9,000 people.

The primary school, whose staff helped educate a total of 184 children this year, was seismically engineered by a Vancouver firm but did not stand up to the landslide floods created.

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Triggered by torrential rainfall and the burst of a glacial lake, the downstream floods have washed away entire towns, says Burgi.

“The loss of human life and infrastructure is significant.⁠”

At least 600 people have been killed in Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Myanmar, according to the United Nations. An estimated half a million have been displaced.

Students of Yangri Academic were fortunate enough to be guided to higher ground by a staff member who noticed a river near the school swell shortly after 10 p.m.

By midnight there was nothing left, Burgi says.

Yangri Academic was in operation for less than three years before this latest natural disaster.

The charity was in the process of constructing an adjoining secondary school to complete the education process for youth who live in Yangri valley’s 14 villages.

‘Buildings can be rebuilt’

“However, land can be replaced, buildings can be rebuilt,” says Burgi, noting the many people still shut in by inaccessible mountain bridges and roads in Sindupalchowk as a result of flooding.

Himalayan Life is currently raising emergency funds to rescue flood victims and will begin to reconfigure Yangri Academic Centre following that mission.

The B.C. nonprofit is providing additional aid to children in rural Nepalese communities with weekly meal, shelter and sports programs.

Emergency donations toward Himalayan Life’s restoration efforts in Yangri can be made on its website.

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