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An Oregonian steps up at Everest Build II Nepal ]

Jordan Schweiger cut an unusual figure among Nepalese families carrying soil bricks in the doko baskets suspended from their foreheads. A volunteer at Habitat Nepal’s Everest Build II, the Oregon resident offered to lessen the load of Habitat home partner Purna Maya Tamang. He was adamant that his doko bear at least one more brick than the 20 Tamang was carrying.

The owner of a real estate company in Salem, Schweiger partnered with Salem high school students ahead of October’s build to raise $22,000 for Habitat Nepal. During the weeklong event in the municipality of Panchkhal, Schweiger and his fellow volunteers built 35 environmentally-friendly houses. They used sun-dried soil bricks; bamboo for roofing, beams and shutters; and plaster made from mud, cow dung and rice husks.

Of the experience, Schweiger says, “I volunteered for the Everest Build thinking that my labors would help to change someone else’s life for the better. I myself came away so profoundly changed that I found it hard to leave the very place and people who changed me.”

His deeper motivations for participation were personal — and inspiring. “On Aug. 30, 2009,” he shares, “my two boys nearly died in a mountain accident. That accident has become a meaningful metaphor in my life. Most of us will not be called upon to die for what we believe in, but all of us are called to live for what we believe in. Everest Build II made it clear to me that there is plenty to live for in serving the poor. That’s a life worth living.

“Like that day on the mountain, my only prayer to God is that my strength would last until the end of my journey. If I can carry my sons for 6 miles, surely I can go just a little farther for my neighbors in Nepal.”