Posted by Ian Toohill on Jun 08, 2020
Having successfully completed a school building project in Timor Leste several years ago, I was looking for a new International venture. 
As the Club’s International Director I approached my friend Graeme Kent OAM, CEO of NGO Aussie Action abroad (AAA).  I had been to Nepal several times with him in his previous role as CEO of the Duke of Edinburgh Program Victoria. He suggested partnering with AAA and a Nepalese educational organisation, Global Action Nepal (GAN), dedicated to improving the standard of basic education nationwide as a privately funded in-service teacher training facility.
Negotiations were conducted, funds committed and a team of ten assembled, which I took to Nepal in September last year to work alongside local Nepalese tradesmen on the foundations for a new two storey training hall at the GAN compound in Lalitpur, some 20 kms from the Kathmandu CBD. Prior to departure, the Interact Club of Montmorency Secondary College conducted a community dinner dance at the College and raised $4000 for the project. The Rotary Club of Eltham has committed $35,000 over three years.
The team of nine bonded quickly, working well with the Nepalese crew, supervised by a Nepalese construction engineer contracted for the build. The monsoon rains came back after a week working on the foundations, so we repainted the dining hall of the accommodation block. GAN staff were most appreciative to see the building have a ‘face lift.’  
The 18 day stay was not all work. Apart from two days travelling to and from Nepal, six days were taken up being tourists, shopping, visiting schools and donating supplies, exploring Lalitpur, visiting the ancient capital Baktapur, partaking of local restaurant cuisine and dining with the Rotary Club of Mahabouddha. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed by its president, the CEO’s of GAN and AAA, together with Rotary Club of Eltham’s President, John Skinner.
John said, “Meeting many Nepalese was a great experience. All were very appreciative of the work we did and treated us with kindness wherever we went. The relationship that was established between the RC of Eltham and the other three parties was strengthened by our visit and bodes well for the future of the project once the pandemic crisis is over.”
All team members returned home with lasting memories of a fulfilling and rewarding experience. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, the trip planned for September 2020 has had to be postponed until sometime late in 2021. Applications are welcome.
However, the Nepalese contractors have not been idle in our absence. Up until the country was locked down in late March, work on the project had continued with Eltham Club funds. Foundations had been completed and work above ground started. The total cost of the facility to completion is estimated at AUD60,000. The project has been approved by Rotary Australia World Community Service (RAWCS) and is eligible for tax deductible donations. To donate to this project now, go to https://donations.rawcs.com.au/1-2020-21.
 
Ian Toohill RFD PHF
International Director 
Nepal Project Manager
Rotary Club of Eltham
0414 359 365
 
Bending steel Nepalese style. Team member Sergio impresses the Nepalese workers with his strength.
 
RCE President John Skinner exchanges banners with the President of Mahabouddha Rotary Club as they sign the MOU.
 
 Erecting the steel pylons in preparation for boxing and concrete pouring.
 
Bidding a fond farewell to the team.
 
Completed foundations ready, for building the brick wall of the ground floor.