This year, Mennonite Central Committee recognizes its 100 years of relief, development and peacebuilding service around the world! While MCC has been registered as an INGO in Nepal for just over 10 years, MCC first began sending volunteers from North America to Nepal in 1956. Most of these volunteers were seconded to UMN and INF, through which they served as engineers, medical staff, teachers and administrators.
In February, our MCC Nepal team had the opportunity to celebrate MCC’s Centennial with a very special group of former MCCers who served in Nepal in the 1960s and 1970s. Most of them were conscientious objectors during the Vietnam War who signed up to volunteer through MCC’s “PaxMen” program that offered an alternative for pacifists who were opposed to fighting in an unjust war. At the time, there was a significant need for engineers in Butwal, Nepal, where the United Mission to Nepal (UMN) was supporting the development of new hydropower projects and the training of young technicians through Butwal Technical Institute. MCC workers seconded to UMN played a unique role in launching these projects, which to this day continue to contribute significantly to Nepal’s hydropower and other industries.
Pictured above, from left to right:
MCCer, Ben Zook, insepects the brick lining of a Butwal hydropower project tunnel, 1969.
Today, former tradesman trained at Butwal Technical Institute by past MCCers continue to operate Nepal Hydroelectric (NHE)which services and repairs parts for major hydropower projects throughout Nepal.
Former MCC Paxmen and BTI tradesmen who worked together on the Tinaau hydropower project toured the Tinaau tunnels and turbines in February.
While MCC’s current work in Nepal looks quite different now from the contributions that were made 50 years ago, we celebrate our long-standing commitment to peacebuilding, justice for the marginalized, and community transformation that is at the root of all our service.