As an international aid worker for various relief organizations, Robin Contino has seen a lot of devastation. She was in Sri Lanka after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, and in Haiti after the ruinous 2010 earthquake.
But the massive earthquakes that struck Nepal on April 25 and May 12 hit home—literally.
Though raised in Hunt Valley and an alumna of St. Paul’s School for Girls, Contino considers Nepal as much her home as Baltimore County. “Nepal is just one of the most magical places on this earth,” says Contino, 42, who works for the Baltimore-headquartered Catholic Relief Services.
Contino first visited Nepal as a Jesuit volunteer in 1998. While there, she met her husband, Samir Thapa, and stayed, off-and-on, for another 12 years, working in a variety of jobs that utilized her background as a licensed clinical social worker. She joined Catholic Relief Services in 2006 and then returned to the U.S. in late 2009 with her children, now 6 and 8.
Days after the first earthquake, Contino touched down in Kathmandu to help coordinate aid efforts. “It was strange to see, in my home country, relief materials on the runway,” she muses.
While in Nepal, she experienced the second quake, but escaped unscathed. Not everyone was so lucky, she knows. “I just want people to know that Nepal is still there,” she says. “We have to continue to provide financial support to reputable organizations so the country can get back on its feet.”