• Occupation: Carpenter/Builder
  • Country of work: Nepal/Canada
  • Scholarship provided by: Master Builders Association of Victori

Hamish Rose was awarded the Australian Overseas Foundation experience of a lifetime in 2016. It was a busy year for Hamish as he also was awarded the Master Builders State and Regional Apprenticeship of the year.

Without slowing down the Apollo Bay Carpenter quickly knew where he wanted to go for his overseas adventure, Nepal and Canada. The AOF board gladly approved his desire to go and help rebuild a school for the Nepalese people of Bupsa where the region was ravaged by the 2015 Earthquakes.

Hamish receiving his award in 2016 from Master Builders Association of Victoria’s CEO Radley de Silva and 2016 guest speaker Kevin Sheedy

Arriving in Kathmandu (Nepal) on the 28th of September Hamish met up the members from the Himalaya Trust which are dedicated to rebuilding communities. Discussing the methods of building, design, materials used, progress, budget, roles to which Hamish can assist and the most important thing, how to get there!

Bupsa is extremely remote and only accessible by three ways;

  • 10hour+ jeep ride followed by a 4 day trek through 3000m-4000m mountain passes
  • 35minute flight to Lukla and a 2 day walk through 2000m-3000m passes
  • Or a helicopter flight directly

Our adventurous Hamish chose the 35minute flight and the two-day trek.

The school itself was 95 % built by hand and 90% of the project is built with local resources of no more than a 1km away. The only noticeable materials bought in by an 11hour truck drive and a two-day donkey walk would be the cement, ply sheeting and the sheet roofing which was bought in by a helicopter. The block work is nearby river rock that is hand carved by local stone masons who cut the blocks into foot sizes (roughly 5-10 blocks made a day person). The bi-product (3/4 inch aggregate) is crushed to make the concrete and the sand is the heavily crushed river rock with additional river sand. The timber used is from trees less than 20 meters away. The timber is a similar pine to Australia which was introduced by the Americans in the 1950’s. The timber was hand milled in June to size and quantities that is shown in the drawings using the pitsaw to allow the timer to dry. All timber is no more than 3-meter lengths. And the joining of the timber to make the longer lengths is brilliant.

The completed school of Bupsa. In Hamish’s words “I Pinch myself to think it happened”
Two workers using a pitsaw to mill the timber for school. The school is in the background.

Hamish would walk to the school each morning to complete the rebuild. The 30-minute walk would meander through Tea Houses, a Monastery and farms, through back yards down the mountain. With the incredible 6500m-7500m snow-capped Himalayan Mountains on the opposite side of the valley each morning had a magnificent blue sky.

Works Hamish was directly involved with was sub flooring (no joists, just bearers) and the floorboards which were 240mm x 50mm local timber. Installing the ply sheeting on the internal walls and ceilings. The most interesting thing Hamish constructed was the windows and doors.

This photo shows works on the sub floor. Note the timber shavings on the ground to act as a moisture barrier.
Hamish working on the windows and doors. In the background is the kitchen the lunch was cooked in each day and some accommodation of workers for the school. Also bags of crushed river rock that was used for concreting.

The school opening was one of Hamish’s most rewarding experiences he has ever had “in his life”. The entire town participated in the ceremony. Including members of the Government, Directors of the Himalaya Trust, the building workers of the school, the principal and teachers and of course the children. It was at this ceremony which Hamish understood how much this meant to the community and was honored to be a part of the entire process.

Brothers Hamish and Charlie at the opening ceremony. The scarfs are a traditional token of appreciation in the Buddha culture. This was only about 1/4 of them!
Brother and sister (Puster and Ester) receiving their own school bags. A last minute extra $5000 Ballarat Grammar grant that enabled equipment and furniture for the school. All 87 kids who attended the school (85 at the ceremony) received their own school bag filled with necessary equipment we take for granted.

By being in a different country the AOF experience has given Hamish growth personally and professionally. On the professional side tasks as simple as communicating with colleagues from different backgrounds and cultures, using different building techniques to the appreciation and ability to build from sustainable local resources something which Hamish hopes to develop when returning to Australia. Personally, he has grown fantastically as the initial goal grew from rebuilding a house which developed into being part of the full school rebuilding process. By working in such remote conditions, it has made him a “stronger and better person” and it’s something Hamish should be and is “extremely proud of.”

None of this would be possible without ongoing support from industry leaders and the collaboration with the Australian Overseas Foundation. Hamish is “extremely thankful for the opportunity” given to him by the AOF and the Master Builders Association of Victoria. Without their ongoing support and reinvestment into the future industry leaders, none of this would be possible.

Hamish and his partner Bec’s next leg of their journey is in Canada. The requirement for tradespeople on Vancouver Island is strong and Hamish is going to peruse employment that will be beneficial to his personal and professional development. With discussions already happening of future projects such as such as clean drinking water and an acceptable path down to the school for the children of Bupsa Hamish has continued opportunities to improve his life and the lives of others. We wish them well and look forward to hearing updates from this exceptional young Australian.