"The people I have met and the beauty of this country make it very hard to leave," the royal said

By Simon Perry
Updated March 23, 2016 11:40 AM
Credit: Danny Martindale/WireImage

At the end of his official visit to Nepal, Prince Harry made a surprise announcement that he will stay in the country to help rebuild a school that was damaged by last year’s devastating earthquakes.

“The people I have met and the beauty of this country make it very hard to leave. Thankfully however, I m not leaving just yet,” Harry said at a reception at the U.K. embassy in Kathmandu on Wednesday morning.

The prince’s office at Kensington Palace says he will be embedded for six days with a group of volunteers from disaster response charity Team Rubicon UK, which was set up in response to the Nepal disasters.

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During his five-day tour of the South Asian country, Harry has spent time in mountainous villages and other areas affected by the disasters. Around 8,000 people died in the earthquakes of April last year.

“I will be spending the next six days in a remote village,” Harry said at the embassy. “The team I’m joining will be working with a community to rebuild a school damaged in the earthquake. I’m so grateful to have this opportunity at the end of my official tour to do my small bit to help this beautiful country.”

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Team Rubicon will trek into the mountains to an area in Central Nepal and use their own equipment to assist the local community in all aspects of repairing and rebuilding their school, the prince’s office said. Students there have had to make-do in classrooms constructed from poles, tarpaulins and tin since the 7.8 magnitude earthquake destroyed their school last year.

“It is heartrending to see how much work still needs to be done,” Director of Field Operations for Team Rubicon UK Simon Clarke said in a statement. “By providing a proper school for the children of this remote village … We can restore these essential resources from a practical perspective, but perhaps also provide hope for this resilient community.”