Damian Browne is a Laing O’Rourke Construction Manager currently on an unpaid sabbatical in Nepal, a small country in South Asia high in the Himalayas, which suffered one of the worst natural disasters in April and May 2015. A series of earthquakes in which 9,500 people died and 18,000 were injured, also left 2.3million people displaced from their homes.
Damian initially volunteered in 2016 with Concern Worldwide (CWW), one of the first organisations on the ground to provide emergency relief, and returned recently to assist in reconstruction. CWW is funding and supporting the construction of 18 primary and secondary schools in the worst affected areas, and following the emergency relief phase, their work is focused on training and rebuilding.
“The standard of construction in Nepal is not good,” explains Damian. “Limited materials, lack of funds and difficulties with access have meant families will settle for substandard construction of their homes. The country is also still developing and people have simply not been exposed to good building practices. As the altitude increases and the villages become more remote, the standard of construction decreases and this resulted in catastrophic damage when the earthquake and aftershocks struck in April and May 2015.”
However in February this year a huge milestone was reached when the construction of the first earthquake resistant school - for 90 children in the village of Manakamana - got underway. This site and many others like it are being used as training grounds, and to provide mentoring schemes, enabling better reconstruction of homes and schools for generations to come.
Damian is appealing for three engineers and construction managers to help oversee nine further schools soon to be constructed there. “We have an enviable resource of talented, driven individuals in the UK and we have a huge opportunity to get involved and act in some part in aiding the reconstruction of this fantastic country. If you are able to assist you need to have 4 years’ experience in site based roles, strong technical skills and experience in site management, logistics and planning. Physical fitness and problem-solving skills are also vital, as there is usually two hours of hiking a day when visiting sites, and the requirement to think on your feet when plans change.
“It’s the kind of experience that’s forces you to think beyond standard construction practices and develop skills as an effective communicator, motivator and teacher. The work is challenging but hugely rewarding and the difference you can make is immeasurable.”
Damian can be contacted for further information about the project in Nepal at: firstname.lastname@example.org.