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Irrigation trenching along the Spine

This week saw the continuation of trenching for the irrigation and the first pipes being laid.
We have been discussing looking further at the flora in the hills directly around the school and the possibility of removing some plants and seeing whether they will transplant successfully during these summer months.

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The laying of the first mainline pipes for the irrigation system

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Roof detail of roundhouse in the adventure playground

This week the handover began of the Resident Landscape Architect role from Simon Drury-Brown to Paddy Clarke, who will be on site until the end of September. The roundhouse structure is complete providing some much needed shade on site and wonderfully cooling airflow through the structure.
This week several irrigation engineers from Jains arrived on site. We walked the site and marked out the route of the mainline for trenching to begin. Trenching started immediately with Lundup on the JCB. We are all incredibly keen to see the laying of irrigation pipes start!

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Initial trenching for irrigation in front of Naropa Photang

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Adventure Playground 'Roundhouse' going up

We built the frame of the timber roundhouse in the adventure playground, which is looking beautiful.
After asking for the housemothers assistance this week they came to help us begin planting flower seedlings on the spine.

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Planting on the residential spine

His Holiness Gyalwang Drukpa was invited by His Eminence Thuksey Rinpoche, Chairperson of the Druk White Lotus School, to inaugurate the "Dragon Garden", and to watch a series of performances by the school children and a presentation by the landscape architects from UK.

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Three years ago this month, a big mudslide hit our school in the night and did a huge amount of damage. Nobody was killed on the campus, but more than 200 people lost their lives nearby in the Indus Valley. School staff saved our residential students and led them to safety on adjacent high ground. Villagers' fields were left covered in mud, boulders and debris, dramatically affecting their livelihoods.

The school buildings took a direct hit, but top-class design and good construction enabled them to withstand the large forces. The mud made a terrible mess inside buildings, and carried away books, furniture and equipment.

A huge collective effort by staff, neighbours, the army, public authorities, NGOs and volunteers enabled classes to get up and running again, with some held in tents while classrooms were cleared and cleaned. We took in some students who had lost parents or their homes.

Out of disaster came great good: Aamir Khan returned with His Holiness Gyalwang Drukpa to 'Rancho's School' to offer encouragement and help get the school back on its feet; a large team of men and equipment from Hindustan Construction Company appeared and spent two weeks clearing mud out of classrooms; and the JCB company kindly donated a digger to enable and speed recovery.

Supporters rallied round to help replace computers and other school equipment, and responded to a call to fund defences against any future mudslide. With their financial support, we have almost completed a defence wall 1km long, averaging 3m high. Because we had to divert resources to the clean-up and to building defences, the school's building programme had to be pushed back by about two years.

Memories of the night of 5th/6th August 2010 are etched in our minds. Nobody knows whether the cloudbursts and resulting mudslides were due to climate change, collective karma, or fate. We remember and honour those who lost their lives, their homes or their livelihoods. We give thanks for the kindness of the hundreds of people who dug away mud or assisted from a distance by donating towards replacing school resources or creating our mudslide defences.

Even today, three years after that traumatic night, the open spaces on about half the campus are still scarred by mud and boulders.

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We are setting about transforming this mudslide devastation into a lush, 'green' learning environment that we are calling a 'Dragon Garden'. This is an artist's impression of a 'mandala' vegetable garden. It will probably take a further five years to overcome the physical effects of the mudslide on the campus. If you would like to participate or help in some way, do please get in contact.

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