From Charter Hallways to Nepal’s Finest Rivers: Amanda Benoit

Valerie Questell, News Editor

Despite standing on the ruin of a former home, two Nepalese children manage a smile as they squeeze the waist of Amana Benoit. Benoit, a charter alum, left Florida and headed to the Takure region in Nepal in an effort to alleviate the devastation caused by a 2015 hurricane. (Donated by: Amanda Benoit)

   As she packed her bags and stored away her Floridian clothes, the infamous question arose: “What can fill my heart?” 

   Charter Alumna Amanda Benoit didn’t know the answer then, but moving to Nepal would answer her question. After 1 ½ years of living in Takure, Nepal, the eco-friendly Earth bricks used to create foundations for the collapsed buildings she helped create, were also used to create stability in her heart. 

   Since then, she has never looked back.

   After the monstrous Nepal Hurricane in 2015 which resulted in 8,200 deaths, 244 of the 245 structures in Takure had been destroyed (Britannica); Amanda Benoit and her team at Conscious Impact were willing to help restore the city. Packing her bags and saying goodbye to Florida wasn’t easy, but it was Conscious Impact that gave her the courageous initiative to provide homes for hundreds of families and an orphanage.

    “I originally came to Nepal to trek in the mountains and clear my head. I really fell in love with the people and culture so I returned again a month later and then 8 months after to volunteer at an organization [Conscious Impact] focused on sustainable development in a rural community that was severely impacted by the 2015 earthquake,” says Benoit.

   Benoit was constantly conflicted about what she really wanted to do in Nepal, but she knew it had to be impactful. “I stayed at the NGO [Non-Governmental Organization] for 1.5 years working with the agriculture team and then transitioned to sustainable community development where we focused on income generation and women empowerment through natural handmade crafts,” she said.

    However, her current project has changed, and her heart was geared even further. “I don’t volunteer at the NGO anymore, but have continued working toward preserving traditional textiles and knowledge in multiple communities with the environment in the front of my mind,” she said. 

   “The goal is to create a circular economy that benefits the Earth and the people. Everything my team creates is a natural product of the environment, is thoughtfully harvested from the land, is ethically made by communities, and will eventually return to the earth.” 

   However, Benoit had to start somewhere. Graduating from the Pembroke Pines Charter class of 2005, Benoit deeply credits her time at Charter to who she is as a person. “I loved my time at Pines Charter,” she said. “[It’s] where I was shaped into the person I am and learned my values though I didn’t know it at the time.” 

I loved my time at Pines Charter. This is where I was shaped into the person I am and learned my values though I didn’t know it at the time.

— Amanda Benoit


   Through the Pines Charter hallways in South Florida alongside friends and family, to her newfound love for the people of Nepal, Amanda Benoit has her heart set on helping people and the Earth.
   As she spent years building homes for the Nepalese, they have given her a home in return and answered her question:

   “What can fill my heart?”