Del Mar couple honored for work in Nepal

From routine medical exams to an emergency appendectomy, Dr. David Monahan has performed or helped cover the cost of medical care for dozens of children in Nepal.

Since 2010, Monahan and his wife, Sally Monahan, have held free medical camps in Nepal, in support of Chhahari, a nonprofit helping at-risk and orphaned children.

“There are some simple things you can do in the Third World that can prevent a lot of deaths,” said Monahan, who has lived in Del Mar since 1973. “If you get a chance to use your skills, you should. It’s fulfilling.”

Monahan, who co-owns Amigo Medical Group and also practices medicine at Scripps Mercy Chula Vista and Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center, has provided free medical care to people in the Brazilian Amazon since the late 1970s.

He first learned about Chhahari while walking his dogs by Stratford Court Cafe in Del Mar several years ago. At that time, Chhahari board members Ingrid and Jerry Hoffmeisters and former board member Carol Kerridge — all Del Mar residents — were holding a used book sale to raise funds for Chhahari, which means “shelter” in Nepalese.

After learning how the organization provides food, education and shelter to children in need, Monahan wanted to provide health care in Nepal, too. He and his wife first traveled to Nepal in 2010, returning in 2011 and 2012.

“I feel like we accomplished a lot by going three years in a row,” said Monahan, who plans to return in the next two years.

The couple were recently honored during the nonprofit’s Oct. 25 fundraiser in Solana Beach. The event raised money so Chhahari’s children could receive inoculations. Funds will also help the older children go on to college or vocational school.

“They’re lovely, lovely people,” said Chhahari founder and president Christine Casey. “Dr. David is full of energy and has a special place in his heart for the poor and the disadvantaged. It really comes through in the work he does and the work he continues to do.”

Casey founded Chhahari in 2007, after a 2004 trekking exhibition to Nepal.

“I saw so many things in person that we only see here on the TV,” said Casey, a Laguna Beach resident who now lives in Nepal from February through July to help run the shelter.

“When you’re actually walking in the street and see naked children that are starving to death, it’s horrendous. I saw so many things, I couldn’t shut my brain off at night.”

Since opening its doors in 2008, the shelter has served about 40 children. Twenty-five children ages 5-18 live at the shelter.

“It’s a very worthy project,” Monahan said. “I think we’ll continue to do this for a long time.”