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Fateful Meeting Brings Math Instructor Opportunity to Help Nepalese Students

September 16, 2013

Nepal Concert  

Right place. Right time.

That sums up how Chris Mahan, adjunct math instructor at the Wildwood campus, got involved with Mitrata Nepal Foundation for Children.

Mahan met and befriended Stephanie Recht in 2002 through a mutual friend. Life circumstances took them in different directions and they lost touch with each other. He became busy teaching classes at Washington University, Harris-Stowe and Wildwood. Recht’s life took her in a different direction, and she currently serves as the supervisor of visitor and member services at the St. Louis Art Museum.

They reconnected through Facebook and Mahan found out that Recht had become involved with Mitrata-Nepal Foundation for Children. She has sponsored a Nepalese student since 2003, and serves on the Mitrata Board of Directors and co-chair of the Mitrata Fundraising Committee.

Mitrata is a non-profit organization that provides education, housing and medical care for underprivileged children in Nepal. The organization provides school sponsorships for children living at home and in boarding school environments, career development services and scholarships for vocational training and higher education, operational support for an outreach center for children who are homeless or children of itinerant workers, and consulting expertise.

“This year, nine students who have been involved with the program will begin college,” Mahan said.

The organization depends entirely on donations and fundraising efforts, and so Mahan was invited to participate in one of their two major fundraising events – a trivia night.

“I have been going to the trivia nights since 2010. I’ve put together tables and gone on my own to be a part of other tables, but I wasn’t officially part of the organization,” Mahan said.

And then one night, Mahan was walking back to his home and he ran into Recht on the street. Coincidentally, Mitrata was holding a meeting in the very same neighborhood where Mahan lives.

“She invited me to come in and get involved with the group. It was at a time when I was trying to find a way to keep balance in my life,” he said.  “I wanted to do something besides just work all the time. Stephanie is inspirational. She’s involved with St. Louis Art Museum. She’s a belly dancer. She introduced me to yoga. She finds time to pursue her passions and I was looking for that same kind of balance.”

Mahan is now part of the Communications Committee working on the organization’s other main fundraiser, a concert that will be held Oct. 19. "Concert for Kathmandu Kids" will be held at the Old Rock House and will feature the Joia World Percussion Ensemble, and Dawn Weber and the Electro-Funk Assembly.

“The Communications Committee is an eclectic group.  Different people have different areas of expertise, and I’m learning a lot about different things and expanding my interaction with other people,” said Mahan.”

He also hopes to become involved with the organization in other ways.

“I’ve thought about how I can help students with math,” Mahan said. “Maybe down the road I can Skype with a class.”

In the meantime, his efforts are focused on the concert. 

“I hope that we can get the word out about the concert and that the event is really successful,” he said.

Earlybird tickets are available to fans of the Mitrata Facebook page until Sept.19. Tickets can be purchased at the Mitrata-Nepal Foundation for Children website