"People are sleeping in fields and rains…It is a challenge and a very difficult hour for Nepal." – Sushil Koirala, Prime Minister of Nepal

 On Saturday, April 25th, a massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit near the capital city of Kathmandu, Nepal, one of the world's poorest nations. The original quake lasted around 40 seconds, which when converted to "disaster-time," must have seemed like an eternity. Currently, over 6000 people are dead, more than 10,000 injured and many still accounted for in Nepal. Thousands of houses, roads historical monuments, and religious sanctuaries have been either badly damaged or completely destroyed. People have been forced to live on streets in the rain and in dire conditions, while the basic necessities of food, water, shelter and first aid in extremely short supply. All this while anxiously awaiting the inevitable barrage of aftershocks which continue even to today.

When I heard the news of this catastrophic event on Sunday from a coworker, I learned instantly that Nepal and its people are more than just a conglomerate of devastating statistics or Monday-morning talking points that can used to compare against every other natural disaster around the world. I learned after seeing photos of rubble and ruin that this is more than just a figure of economic loss, or an effort to calculate how much money rebuilding will require. I learned that although the numbers can be important, they should be used to convey the magnitude of individual suffering. Each one of those thousands are a real person, going through real suffering, real pain, real trauma, fear, uncertainty, and despair. Each person has a family, a history, a culture, a daily life that was completely unearthed in less than a minute.

I learned this because Aman Malla, the coworker I talked to and who sits directly next to me in the office, is from Kathmandu, Nepal. Aman is a bridge engineer that left his home country of Nepal only 7 years ago, but who still has family and many friends there. He knows and recognizes the places being photographed and shown in the news. He tells me the history of the building that was reduced to rubble. He shares with me a select few of the constant updates he receives on Facebook and Twitter, as well as the support that is coming in from countries, charities and business around the world.  Yet he has felt the need to do more to raise the awareness of this disaster, and so he has helped me write my message this month, as well as provide a technical article about the earthquake later in the newsletter.

Aman's experience is not unique to our area. Here in Sacramento is a vibrant Nepalese community and they have formed the Nepalis and Friends Cultural Association (NAFCA), a Davis based Nepali non-profit organization. Even if you had to look at a map to remind you where Nepal is in the world, know that there are hundreds of our neighbors who have been affected by the devastation in their home country of Nepal. Even if you don’t know anyone from Nepal, or haven't been affected by this in any way, you are still a neighbor from California and even this side of the world should be willing to help. If we, who are blessed beyond measure, don't help, who will?

Fortunately, NAFCA has made it easy for us to support this cause, as they have set up a donation site: And this is just one of many possible donation sites. If you wish to research others, has listed and ranked various charities. Find one that fits you!

As engineers, we are constantly looking for the solutions to problems that beset our community. We build. It is my hope that the engineers of the Sacramento Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers will not only realize the destruction in Nepal, but also recognize the individual devastation that occurred at the same time, and find a way to help build them back up.  Thank you for all you give!

Do you have questions, comments or thoughts, or are you looking for a way to get involved? Please contact us at:


Kyle Sanford