NICK Abraham is a remarkable young man.
The former Orange student turned carpenter has dedicated his young life to helping rebuild a village in Nepal in the wake of the devastating April 2015 earthquake that claimed more than 8800 lives and destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes.
Mr Abraham, 22, is a co-founder and director of From The Ground Up, a small team of architects, builders, engineers and like-minded professionals whose vision is to rebuild sustainable and earthquake-resistant communities in Nepal.
If we focus our efforts and target one specific village we can build a rapport with the villagers and work in tandem to achieve full infrastructure and economic development- NICK ABRAHAM
Mr Abraham heard firsthand about the impact of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake while working in Darwin last year and felt obligated to help out. He was a builder by day and worked in a bar at night alongside Nepalese students.
"They were just an amazing group," he said of the students.
"When they heard about the earthquake they were so upset.
"One of the guys told me he couldn't get through to his family and I felt so bad for him.
"I spoke to the boss and told him I wanted to use my carpentry skills to help out."
Mr Abraham sourced a volunteer organisation in Nepal and a Facebook campaign Taking Nick to Nepal began to raise money for what he planned would be a six-month stint.
"It was a big commitment, a huge commitment, but I always wanted to do something I felt of use in," he said.
"I felt very compassionate towards these guys."
When Mr Abraham landed in Nepal in September 2015 the devastation hit home.
"It was insane, there was still destruction everywhere ... they were still pulling out bodies from the rubble and they still are," he said.
"I couldn't fathom it. What have I walked into? I had no idea how to begin."
Complicating Mr Abraham's introduction to Nepal was that members of the volunteer organisation he was supposed to join had gone their separate ways and were no longer working on specific projects in the village of Ghumarchowk, 17 kilometres north-east of Kathmandu.
"I was supposed to go over and build 150 temporary shelters, it was monsoon season and there were internal issues with the organisation," he said.
"There were still a few people there keen to work and I said I needed to do something, I've raised this money [$12,000] to come over here and people expect things to be done.
"They asked me, 'How do you feel about building a school?'
"We started to do the school and it sort of went from there."
Mr Abraham said 80 per cent of the village was destroyed in the earthquake.
"We can't do much with our funds all over Nepal but if we focus our efforts and target one specific village we can build a rapport with the villagers and work in tandem to achieve full infrastructure and economic development within the village," he said.
From The Ground Up also partners with other organisations.
"We're building nine homes for Hem Sarita Pathak Foundation, one school for Change for Hope America, and we're in the planning stages for two medical centres for HAPSA run by Harvard medical students," Mr Abraham said. "Basically it's their projects and they fund it and we do it.
"We're raising money for our own second school now and it's estimated to cost us around $45,000 as it's a full school rebuild. It's quite expensive so at the rate we're going it will take us around a year to raise the funds for it."
When he is back in Australia Mr Abraham's carpentry work in the Sydney area funds the overheads for the From The Ground Up projects.
"Any costs related to it comes out of my pocket which is fine, I have no regrets, I love doing what I do," he said.
"At this stage of my life I have no aspirations to own my home or anything.
"I'm spending my time and money doing what I love, I don't find it too amazing.
"Hopefully I can make it my job. I don't want to stop at Nepal, I want to keep going into other countries."
From The Ground Up is a registered charity in Nepal and Mr Abraham is hoping for the same recognition in Australia.
The group is determined to rebuild Nepal in the most sustainable way possible. They've used earthbags and compressed earth bricks in their building projects and have even developed a cost-effective machine to make the the bricks.
Mr Abraham returned to Orange last Friday to talk to James Sheahan Catholic High School students about his work in Nepal and challenge them to find new and innovative ways to create both the bricks and the machine.
"We're going to be doing a lot of work in Australia to keep innovating on sustainable practices," he said.
Mr Abraham, who will return to Nepal shortly for a three-month stint of volunteer work, said working alongside people in need had given him a new perspective on life.
"I thought it was a big sellout getting into carpentry, but when I found out I could use my skills over in Nepal it was altruistically satisfying," he said.
To donate to From The Ground Up and learn more about the organisation visit www.fromthegroundupnepal.org.
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