An Indian-American Architect’s Journey to United for Hope

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Team Member Profile: Nutan Jäger

My name is Nutan Jäger and I currently live in Karlsfeld, Germany. I am an architect, an artist and a mom of 3 kids. I was born and raised in the U.S. by Indian immigrants (they are from the area south of Goa) and still have a ton of relatives there. We moved to Germany about 7 years ago (my husband is German) and we love it here.

After moving here, and finding it difficult to go back to work full-time with 3 little kids, with no family close by, in a foreign country in which I did not speak the language, and learning to drive stick-shift, I took some time to think about what kinds of projects I wanted to work on. It turned out I wanted less and less to go back full-time and sit behind a computer all day drawing yet another bathroom remodel for a family of 3 that already had two full bathrooms (with running water, nonetheless!) and more and more to use my skills to help people who had no access to design and current innovations in affordable technologies. So that’s where I’ve been putting my energy the last few years, researching and working on low-tech, eco-friendly buildings that help boost the local economy. A kind of cross over between architecture and development.

1. How long have you worked with United for Hope and what kind of work do you do?

I started working for United for Hope early in 2015, doing a number of things. It started with creating drawings for the community center, and then for the water building, and then it was graphics for a crowdfunding campaign, and then another fundraising campaign, then came the proposal for a women’s empowerment program, and now I’ve been elected Schatzmeister (Treasurer)!

2. What brought you to United for Hope?

Total fate! I was talking to some friends about a development project I wanted to start, and they mentioned having heard a woman give a talk about her NGO at the MWIC, a local international women’s organization, but they couldn’t remember her name. So I googled it, and found Tara and a site that showed that United for Hope was looking for volunteers to do some graphic design work for them. So I started thinking that the best way to gain more experience working development would be to work for a local NGO, and what better one than one based close to home where the founder was a native English speaker! So I responded to the ad, and Tara wrote me back almost immediately. Turns out she googled me and found out I’m an architect and was wondering if I could help out with some technical drawings. I remember, looking at the groups Facebook feed afterwards and literally seeing a post a day or two before, from Tara asking the group if anyone knew an architect who could help out on the designs for the Community Center Building! Perfect timing.

3.What is one thing about United for Hope that you feel the readers should know?

I’ve volunteered with other NGO’s before, but somehow United for Hope is different. It gets things done. Some of the larger, older organizations are so much slower in making change, or maybe they’ve been doing things the same way for so long, there’s no room for change any more. That’s what I like about United for Hope – you can see the change immediately. I am so proud of all the things the organization has accomplished since it’s been established – the toilets, the clean water, the hand washing program. Seeing pictures of the first bricks being laid on the community center and the clean water building was especially exciting. Nothing has been easy, and there have been many ups and downs on these projects, but seeing the first rooms getting built and knowing we will soon have a place to hold afterschool classes for the children, and empowerment training for the women of the village, and knowing I had something to do with making that happen, well, that’s just a great feeling.