A MOTHER and daughter sobbed with relief as they were told a cherished friend and more than 200 schoolchildren survived the Nepal earthquake.
Liz Bond and her daughter Nicky Puttick had an agonising weekend as they feared Nepalese teacher Rabin Jirel and his pupils might be amongst the 4,310 people to have died in Saturday’s disaster.
Liz and Nicky have spent the past 10 years fundraising to help Rabin and the impoverished children of his community set up a permanent school.
Yesterday morning, after spending every hour trawling social media sites, they finally got through on a crackly phone line to Rabin, who said everyone was accounted for.
The school in Kathmandu, which was nearing completion after Liz and Nicky helped to raise £33,000, was badly damaged in the earthquake. Only last Friday, Liz sent out a cheque for £1,500 to help finish off the construction, including fitting windows and building toilets.
Rabin and the children have been left homeless and are camping outside as many of the buildings are structurally unsafe.
But Liz said the main thing is that everyone is still alive.
‘I’m ecstatic,’ said the retired NHS secretary, from Fraser Gardens, Southbourne, near Emsworth. ‘It’s wonderful news. We both burst into tears. There’s overwhelming relief.’
Now they are fundraising to help the children and get the school back on track. Liz added: ‘I have already got a stall booked at the Lions fete in Emsworth. This has spurred me on to continue helping them.’
The pair’s fundraising mission started after Nicky worked as a teacher in Nepal and met Rabin, who had a football-sized tumour growing on his neck.
After News readers helped to pay for life-saving surgery, they set about building a new school.
Nicky, 35, who was on holiday in Cornwall when she heard the news, said: ‘It turned from being a nice weekend to a nightmare and trying to contact various people in Nepal.’
A Portsmouth-born traveller Samuel Beckett, 23, is among the missing. Samuel’s family moved to Leicester many years ago.
His father Martin Beckett told The News: ‘We have not heard anything. We just keep watching the news.’
To donate visit navatrust.org.uk or send a cheque to Nava Indradhanush Trust, 14 Fraser Gardens, Southbourne, PO10 8PY.