Rob Tournour, director of Another Brick in Nepal, is rebuilding a school in Nepal that was destroyed in the earthquakes that ravaged the region in 2015.
 (Rick Stiebel/News Gazette staff)

Rob Tournour, director of Another Brick in Nepal, is rebuilding a school in Nepal that was destroyed in the earthquakes that ravaged the region in 2015. (Rick Stiebel/News Gazette staff)

Another brick to rebuild Nepal

First rebuild a small step in long journey for local non-profit

Rick Stiebel/News Gazette staff

Rob Tournour headed back to Nepal this week to ensure the final bricks will be placed by December for a school he is rebuilding.

Once that’s completed, Tournour has his sights set on the next project for the non-profit society he launched following the earthquakes that ravaged Nepal in April and May 2015.

It all began when Tournour was having a coffee and saw a full-page photo in a newspaper showing the destruction the quakes left in their wake.

“Maybe it was the bricks, but it just reached out to me,” said Tournour, co-owner of Rob Tournour Masonry. “I put the photo up on the wall at work for a couple of weeks and tried to figure out what I could do to help with the rebuilding.”

He eventually approached a friend, Randy Jones, who he knew had been in Nepal a few weeks after the earthquakes, to discuss what they could do.

They started reaching out to people and in less than a month had made some connections, and booked flights in October.

Tournour took advantage of the opportunity to organize a trek to the base camp of Mount Everest, fulfilling a lifelong dream. He then set out to tour the regions hit hardest by the quakes. “We didn’t nail down a specific site before we headed home, but we were really inspired to make a difference after what we had seen.”

“We started to reach out to people and had our first board meeting in November,” Tournour explained. “We kept in touch with the people we had met in Nepal and went back in June.” After visiting a few more areas, they came upon Aapchaur, a small, remote village in the district of Nuwakot, about a four-hour drive from Kathmandu that hadn’t received any aid.

“We knew we had a project then,” Tournour said. They started meeting every month and began the process of setting up a non-profit society, with only about $1,000 raised at that point. “Once a few board members made the trip and saw the need for themselves, the passion grew.”

Tournour has been in construction for 20 years, so he had lots of contacts in the region to approach for funding. “A lot of people, businesses and companies have really stepped up to help out. Stew Young and the City of Langford were very supportive. Momentum is building,” he said.

They registered the non-profit under the name Another Brick in Nepal, and raised $15,000 within a couple of months, making it possible to start rebuilding the school, a bare bones structure with three classrooms and no washrooms for about 70 students before the quake. Nick Versteeg, a filmmaker from Cowichan Bay who had been shooting in Nepal when the quakes stuck, approached Tournour in March of this year. He had heard about the project and asked if he could feature Another Brick in Nepal in his documentary.

Tournour returned to the village with Versteeg a month later, and was finally able to officially let the villagers know they were going to rebuild the school. During the trip he met Bishnu Pandey, a structural engineer and teacher at the British Columbia Institute of Technology and who grew up in Nepal and has taken a year off to assist with the rebuilding. “He’s been a tremendous inspiration,” Tournour said.

Another Brick in Nepal has raised about $35,000 of its budget of $45,000 so far. The society is hosting a fundraiser that Tournour hopes will not only cover the balance, but provide enough to kick-start the next project. “Nine-thousand schools were damaged or destroyed in 2015,” he said. “You wouldn’t believe the state of some of the villages, especially in the more remote areas. There is no one there to help. We want to keep the ball rolling and build two more schools in 2018.”

The first Another Brick in the Wall fundraiser takes place Monday, Nov. 27 from 6 to 10 p.m. at Glo Restaurant and Lounge. Tickets are $30 per person, and includes tapas, a beverage, a chance to win some great draw prizes and a 50/50 draw. The silent auction features a guitar signed by Burton Cummings, Sante Spa services, Nepali art, Brick in the Wall calendars, Nepali scarves, toques and other great items.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

editor@goldstreamgazette.com

Just Posted

Mural artist Paul Archer will soon begin work on a piece on the rear of a building at 100 Burnside Road West. (Gorge Tillicum Community Association)
Back of Burnside building in Saanich to feature mural of hope and positivity

Artist Paul Archer says subject will inspire memories, depict children’s future, sunshine, flowers

Victoria Truth Centre and Long-term Inmates Now in the Community (L.I.N.C.) Society are hoping to replicate in Langford the format used on Emma’s Farm in Mission, pictured here. (Patrick Penner/Black Press Media)
Victoria Truth Centre hopes to grow transformative justice in Langford

Purchase proposal would see offenders, survivors and families work on organic vegetable farm

Tyson Muzzillo, regional manager of BC Cannabis Store, welcomes shoppers to their Uptown location, opening on June 16. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
Government-run cannabis store opening at Saanich’s Uptown

BC Cannabis Store the first for government in Greater Victoria, 27th in province

The stretch of trail north of Royal Bay Secondary connecting to Painters Trail at Murray’s Pond will be closed temporarily this week for invasive species removal. (Black Press Media file photo)
Colwood trail behind Royal Bay Secondary temporarily closed for invasive species removal

Cloure in effect from 9 a.m. Wednesday to 10 a.m. Friday this week

Proposed design for the Topaz Park bike and skate park elements. (Courtesy City of Victoria)
Victoria requesting feedback on Topaz Park redesign

Public input now being taken for proposed skate, bike park ideas

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

Cowichan Tribes man Adrian Sylvester is worried that he was targetted by a trailer hitch thrown from a vehicle. (Facebook photo)
Cowichan Tribes man worried he was target of trailer hitch

Adrian Sylvester says no one has reported a missing hitch after one nearly hit him

Graeme Roberts, who was mayor of Nanaimo from 1984-86, died this month at age 89. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Community Archives)
City of Nanaimo flags at half-mast as former mayor Graeme Roberts dies at 89

‘Giant-killer’ beat out Frank Ney in mayoral election in 1984

Most Read