Lending a Helping Hand

teaching kids fire protection

Adam Koenigs, a 5th year plumbing apprentice here at Ahern, traveled to a school in Thangal Dahp, located in the mountains of Nepal on a Health Habitat project. The school was severely stricken by earthquakes in 2015 leaving major damage to the school and surrounding houses. The school which educates 400 students ranging from ages 4-12 was operating with a failing septic system and makeshift washroom facilities.

The Health Habitat team was to install all of the plumbing for the newly constructed out buildings. By providing the students with toilets and clean water, the Health Habitat team decreased their chances of illness by 80%.

Ahern provided the Health Habitat team with one of the items needed for the project, a Ridgid ratcheting hand threader with ½” and ¾” die heads and dies. This tool was an integral piece to complete the project and was left in Nepal to be a part of IWSH's tool kit for future projects. Read on for more of Adam’s story.

“The school had been nice enough to set aside a nice classroom for us with some blankets on the floor to sleep on.  Together as a team we addressed some issues with the plans and developed a work plan for the week. As we worked it was also our responsibility to train some of the laborers working with us on how to install plumbing. Since the materials were a bit different than we were used to, we had to learn and develop practices for installing it. To do this you really have to take it back to plumbing fundamentals. Deciding if what we were doing would accomplish the goal and have some sustainability.”

As you can imagine digging in the mountains is quite the chore, but everyone was such great help. The students were so excited to help. Their favorite thing to do was use the threader Ahern had donated. Every recess they would come running over and surround the work bench. It was really incredible the relationships we developed with these kids. The English teacher at the school told us we were like heroes to them. It was a remarkable feeling. So, thanks to some excellent workers and the occasional tea break, everything went smoothly. There were some design issues as always but we worked with the architect, project leaders, and school leaders to develop the best possible solution for the children. We actually completed most of the plumbing three days ahead of time.”

When we weren’t working, washing, or sightseeing, you could find us playing soccer in the playground with the kids. For our departure, the school put together a small thank you ceremony during their regular morning school ceremony and wrapped us with scarves to provide us with safety in our travels. The community was so grateful for the work we did there. Doing this kind of work really brings life to the tag line “the plumber protects the health of the world.” I am so grateful to be part of that. These people that live in these remote villages have little to nothing and a year and a half ago an 8.1 earthquake came along and destroyed what they did have. It’s not easy to rebuild with nothing and I am glad I was able to help these incredible people with at least one thing."