April 25 2015, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake shakes Nepal toppling buildings, provoking landslides and causing disarray on the ‘Roof of the World’.
After the seismic activity, there was a worldwide humanitarian response. Community Action Nepal (CAN), a charity that delivers education, health and livelihood programmes to help Nepalese communities, had been doing work for Nepal for over 30 years. They now had a major crisis on their hands.
The not-for-profit organisation needed support. Volunteers from all over the world began helping in whatever way they could, this is where Tetra Tech (then WYG) stepped in. We offered up experts alongside a monetary investment to CAN UK, to help make a difference to the Nepalese people. Glyn Utting was one of those experts sharing his Project Management and Engineering experience to aid Nepal’s rebuild in the years to follow.
Following multiple visits between 2015 – 2019 where Glyn programme managed the rebuild of schools, health facilities and other communal infrastructure. A number of other Tetra Tech employees were also involved including Cara Buchan and Alex Shepherd who both specialise in blast resistant and seismic design. Unfortunately, Covid 19 would prematurely end their work there.
Turning the clock forward to 2022, Glyn, who is now the chair of CANs trustee board, has recently returned to Nepal with other trustees and supporters of CAN UK rejoining with the CAN Nepal team who have been working tirelessly since CAN UK’s departure in 2019.
The most recent return was a reassurance to the Nepalese people that CAN UK are still committed to Nepal’s rebuild and to supporting its rural communities. On top of reassurance, CAN UK were there to see the four projects completed since their last visit as well as the development of several new potential projects.
The first project visited was the Khumjung Heritage House. A newly constructed Gompa for which Tetra Tech provided the Governance and assurance for the design is part of the Sherpa Heritage House Project sitting below the impressive Ama Dablam. Commenting on the building’s reconstruction, Glyn described the Gompa: ‘In my many years of working on construction projects I am rarely stunned but I was blown away by the incredible effort to re-establish the interior of the building to resemble its previous layout respecting the heritage and history of the building. If I hadn’t seen the prestigious new build exterior, I would have gambled my mortgage on the fact it was exactly the same interior as before the rebuild.’
Though construction has been a success in this location, there is still work to be done to complete the rebuild, including a museum that locals can pay a small admission fee to get an insight into traditional Sherpa life as it was 200 years ago.
Glyn and team then visited the Nile Chule Health Post. Located within a community that Glyn visited in 2016, this specific town was close to Glyn as he felt they had a great community and their engagement had always been positive, contributing labour and materials to all construction projects. Not only does the health post provide a functional and warm facility from which CAN nurses can provide healthcare, but the building itself is seismically resistant.
Next up were the Chhokamparo and Sipchet Health Posts. Chhokamparo is the only governmentally supported health centre in Tsum and is currently being nurtured by CAN nursing techniques with the hope of creating a more sustainable health care outpost for locals. Sipchet is an area that has struggled in recent years with high alcoholism and low tourist rates. A local community leader called Tile Gyamjho gifted CAN some of his own land to build a health post here. An act that some may have seen as contradictory to his culture but a great example of putting the wellbeing of his community first.
On Friday 11 November, Glyn arrived in Prok to visit of a newly constructed school. The school acts as a pre school care unit that takes care of children while their parents work. Not only is the building warm, clean and safe, like the Nile Chule health post, it is also seismically resilient.
After the visit to the Prok school, the team ventured further onto the Lihi health post. However, on arrival it was discovered that an earlier monsoon had struck the post causing landslides which damaged the outpost and destroyed an unoccupied house. A relocation would be required for the facility.
The final two destinations of Glyn’s return to Nepal were Philim health post and Bahrabise School for Deaf Children.
The health post had more work to be done, though it was well maintained it could still take advantage of a restorative update to make the facility more comfortable for staff and patients.
The Bahrabise School for Deaf Children, located in a tropical haven eight miles from the Tibet border is thriving. The school houses a kitchen garden rich with vegetables that not only feed the school, but also the local community.
Glyn described this school, one of his favourite stop offs in Nepal: ‘The visit to the school was as inspirational as I remember. The children and staff were emotional and happy to see Trish and the trustees, we enjoyed lunch and whilst the team chatted with the teachers, I got roped into playing football, arm wrestling and doing push up challenges with the pupils! I slept very well that evening.’
As part of his visit, Glyn accomplished a 160m bungee jump which raised over £1,200 for CAN to help in their efforts in Nepal.
Summarising his 2022 visit Glyn said:
‘It was a packed two weeks and summing it all up is challenging. Overall, it was a very positive trip. Just simply being in Nepal again after three and a half years was brilliant. So much has happened to CAN in that period but the one constant has been the team in Nepal and the communities we support.’
On behalf of Tetra Tech and CAN UK alongside CAN Nepal, Glyn Utting, Cara Buchan and others were able to make a contribution to the Nepalese people that will help their resilience long-term, not only with physical building and infrastructural developments, but also teaching them construction techniques. Glyn alongside CAN trustees is hoping to make a return to Nepal in 2023 to continue this work.