Engineering Hope

The date was May 23, 2015. It had been less than one month since April 25, 2015 7.8 magnitude earthquake and subsequent 7.2 mag aftershock. My wife and I were in Nepal, and I was using my background as a structural engineer to inspect the houses and offices of MountainChild staff and partners. We were in the home of an amazing older lady in the Swayambhu neighborhood of Kathmandu. At that moment, we were drinking Mountain Dew (Nepalis call it ‘Dew’) and eating pound cake in a building that was twisted on its foundation and leaning dangerously to one side. I couldn’t help but wish that we were having our snacks outside! We sipped our Dew as I shared with the homeowner that the house was too dangerous to live in.

The weight of that news was heavy on me, and I fully expected her to respond with fear and disbelief. But her response shocked me. Instead of tears, she laughed. Instead of expressing worry, she said “ke garne!” which basically means “life happens” before serving us more Dew. At that moment both my wife and I saw a glimpse of the strength and resiliency of the people of Nepal. We decided soon after that we wanted to live among and serve the amazing people in this great country.

Even though I didn’t know where my journey would take me, I had been on a path toward working in Nepal for a long time prior to this moment. I had been led to study civil engineering in college. While traveling in Haiti after a large earthquake, I had seen firsthand how poverty kills people. Then, a mentor of mine led me to get certified to respond to earthquakes through the California OES SAP program. This certification came just a few months before Nepal’s earthquake. I knew I was part of a greater plan for my life taking place.

We have now been living in Nepal for over two years. I have been researching alternative construction methods that can be used in the remote Himalayan areas where MountainChild works. We have learned so much from our dear Nepali friends. We have witnessed countless moments of strength and joy just as we first saw back in 2015. It has been our joy to live and serve here.

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