This summer I had an incredible opportunity to work in Nepal as a photojournalist with Mountain Heart Nepal (MHN), a Nepali Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) that is dedicated to bringing free healthcare to remote mountain villages in the Himalayas. After the earthquake in 2015, Aban Gautam founded Mountain Heart Nepal, and in only one year he had helped 15,000 people and distributed several hundred pounds of non-medical aid. He was recognized by the United Nations and received UN funding to charter helicopters so that MHN could reach inaccessible mountain villages that were suffering from the earthquake.
Needless to say, when I noticed that Mountain Heart Nepal was looking for an English-speaking photojournalist, I jumped at the chance. I quickly contacted the organization, and after sending several emails back and forth with the NGO, I was offered the position. I soon realized, however, that I needed help getting there. For this I went to Fr. Jim Donohue and the College of Liberal Arts. I had my proposal ready with itemized costs. After meeting with Fr. Donohue, I received an email explaining that my airline and rent costs would be covered by the Dean’s Fund for Excellence through the College of Liberal Arts.
When I arrived in Nepal, it did not take long for me to establish a routine. On the weekdays I was a teacher at a Nepali secondary school, where I would teach English and engage the students in conversations during free time. It was especially rewarding playing soccer with the students at the end of the school day. On the weekends, I would work in the mountains with Aban and his team of doctors from MHN, documenting their medical camps and earthquake-relief efforts. Being able to see everyday life in one of the poorest countries in Asia was an eye-opening experience.
Without support from the College of Liberal Arts, I would have been unable to take part in this life-changing journey. I received valuable field experience working with a grassroots NGO in a challenging environment. I hope to use all the experience gained from this incredible opportunity to further work with non-profit NGOs and ultimately the Peace Corps. Mount St. Mary’s investment in my education is yet another example of this University’s ongoing commitment to use the liberal arts to develop students, so that they become well-rounded members of a global society.