OW Calls for Help in Nepal

You will all have seen the scenes of devastation in Nepal this past week.

Justin Wickham OW (1982-89), and his pregnant wife, Line, run a non-profit organisation called Learning Planet in Nepal. They were briefly visiting the UK when the earthquake struck last week, but immediately returned to Nepal.

The remote area they work and live in is just 12kms from the earthquake epicentre and is completely devastated. The majority of houses, including Justin’s own, were destroyed or are too dangerous to inhabit. Only the new school buildings survive and are acting now as shelters. Thousands are homeless. Corn, grain and rice stores have been contaminated and hundreds are already hungry.


No government or international aid has arrived yet in Justin’s district, and given the scale of the disaster and geographical challenges, it may never. So Justin and the heads of 3 small Nepali organisations  put together a concerted emergency response and arrived yesterday in a jeep aid convoy with doctors, 14 volunteers and 30 very big canvas tents.  They’ve organised helicopter deliveries of hundreds of blankets and tarpaulins today, and hundreds more tents and tarps will arrive daily into the affected areas. His small team is doing the very best they can in very difficult conditions to help as many people as possible.

The immediate priority is to provide shelter, and medical supplies to treat the injured, followed by food and clean water to stop the spread of disease. Over the coming days and weeks they will need a sustained response to get hold of far more resources to help those in need, and this will require far more funds than they currently have available. Monsoon will come in June, and everyone is conscious of the devastation that will bring if adequate shelter is not available.

Justin and Line set up Learning Planet 5 years ago. They have been living with and helping a group of remote villages build  infrastructure such as schools, access to clean water, renewable power generation, IT and communications, all with the philosophy of helping remote communities access the means to build a better life for themselves.

Learning Planet has achieved amazing results in that period of time, as OWs who have visited (Christer Odeegard, OW 1989, and Jack Furtado, OW 1956) would vouch for. Their practical and sustainable approach has won awards from The Environ Foundation, Architecture for Humanity, and a long ongoing partnership with Engineers Without Borders.

They live on site rather than run things from home, and moneys received have gone a long way to help achieve their aims. 100% of funds / donations go to the front end where it is needed. See http://www.learningplanet.org.uk for more info.


They are also hoping to provide good quality temporary classrooms, as thousands of children have no school buildings, while beginning the process of designing and building new schools, and helping thousands of people get back on their feet, and rebuild their homes with local materials and some simple earthquake safeguards.

If you would prefer to donate by bank transfer, the details are:-

Learning Planet
Co-operative Bank Ltd
Sort 089299
A/C 65359107

In October 2012, a group of Whitgift students travelled to Nepal – just 30 kilometres from the epicentre of the earthquake – where they rebuilt a collapsed stone wall, levelled and prepared a coffee plantation, built a dam to help irrigate local farmers’ fields, and laid 2.5km of pipes from a mountaintop water-source to bring freshwater to one of the schools for the first time ever. It’s tragic to think that their work has most likely been destroyed.


A note from Nigel Bowthorpe, OW 1982-89

I appreciate that there are other more established routes to donate money to Nepal in this crisis such as the emergency and disasters committee that you may well have already donated to (or prefer to donate to). But I thought you would like to try to help an Old Whitgiftian directly, who is doing amazing work  to practically help those in need right now, in very difficult conditions, where nothing else is available and with not enough resources, please could you donate via the link below.

Justin and his wife (and those near the epicentre they are trying to help) will be forever grateful.

Any cash donated will go further in providing assistance and saving lives than you probably realise (e.g. £25 will save lives providing shelters for several families or providing desperately needed medical supplies).


Justin and Line have asked me in advance to pass on their sincere and heartfelt thanks for any help received, and will no doubt be able to provide an email update in a month or so time when they have dealt with the more immediate priorities / issues. I will encourage him to send an update out to you all at that point in time, but understandably at the moment they have other priorities to deal with, and their IT infrastructure is badly damaged. Hence why I am sending this email out on their behalf.

Please act now, as even a small donation is likely to help save lives.

Yours sincerely,

Nigel Bowthorpe, OW (1982-89)