Rebuilding Hope in Nepal
by Adèle Lewis
Eagle Scout Harrison Gibson fell in love with Nepal when he traveled there to mountain climb and soak in the culture. But he climbed an even bigger mountain when he made a commitment to a small village ravaged by a deadly earthquake.
Harrison was in Pokhara in April 2015 when a 7.8 magnitude quake hit the country. He survived the disaster unscathed and quickly saw the need to help with relief aid for six weeks following the massive tremor. “I absolutely would not have been as prepared for disaster relief work or this project had it not been for my many years in Scouting.”
While delivering supplies to remote villages, Harrison found schools destroyed in Hansapur. He decided he had to do something to help even more. When he made it back home to Wichita Falls, Texas, he spoke of his adventure with Boy Scout Troop 34. The small troop was excited to be part a solution to rebuild a school half way across the world.
Working with Himalayan volunteers, Harrison was able to secure a grant from the Nepali government to build four new classrooms for the Shree Himalayan Basic School in Hansapur. He would raise private money from America to build four additional rooms. The price tag for the international portion was $30,000.
Nine villages send children to Shree Himalayan Basic School. Some kids have to walk 1 ½ hours just to get a seat every morning. And for the last year and a half, they’ve had to take turns sharing the only two remaining rooms of the old school house.
Troop 34 put up a GoFundMe page, held church dinners, and carwashes to raise the money. In all, the effort would collect more than $37,000 in the days prior to the grand opening. Harrison flew back to oversee construction in August 2016.
Construction went well. Local labor was hired and the Nepali workers used resources found on site for the structure. In an email home, Harrison spoke about a small victory. “I ran out to the school today because we got a dozer ahead of schedule. Really it's a huge blessing, as we were able to borrow one from a road crew and save at least $500 on transportation.”
The dedication ceremony was packed with people from around the region to celebrate the school’s opening in December. Harrison wore a Boy Scout uniform shirt complete with Northwest Texas Council patches and an Eagle Scout scarf. A plaque at the school’s entrance thanks the Boy Scouts of Troop 34 for its generous support and to Harrison for fulfilling his promise to the Nepali students.
“I enjoyed every bit of it, whether I was helping with coordinating supplies, physically building the school, or talking and sharing meals with the locals and school staff. If I had to pick one aspect, the most fun was teaching and playing with the students, whose smiles made the whole project worth it.”
Harrison Gibson is a 2007 Eagle Scout from the Northwest Texas Council in Wichita Falls, Texas. He is also the 2016 recipient of the Council’s Alumnus of the Year Award.