Earthquake Jolts Seattle's Nepalese-American Community Into Action The city boasts one of the largest Nepalese communities. In the aftermath of the disaster, they've organized prayer vigils, collected money for relief efforts and sent medical personnel to the region.

Earthquake Jolts Seattle's Nepalese-American Community Into Action

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The many American connections to Nepal include people with Nepali ancestry. More than 100,000 live in the United States. Liz Jones, of our member station KUOW, met some of them around Seattle.


LIZ JONES, BYLINE: Prayer bells ring out at a Hindu temple near Seattle. Hundreds of heads bow.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Praying in foreign language).

JONES: A boy in a turquoise sweater peeks through his folded hands. A husband and wife comfort each other, their eyes red from crying. Shree Ram Dahal is with the Nepal Seattle Society. The group organized this vigil to help the community cope.

SHREE RAM DAHAL: There are people from villages where they don't know where their family is. They don't know whether they have lost anybody. So they need a shoulder to just lean on.

JONES: They've come here for emotional support and also to help people back home.

DAHAL: We're gathering donations and whatever else we can to send as quickly as possible because it's a day-to-day thing. They're running out of supplies - food supplies, medical supplies - any kind of relief you can provide for somebody who's lost everything, right?

JONES: During the service, a community leader asks who can volunteer to go to Nepal to head up efforts here. Dozens of hands shoot in the air, and many donate money at a booth set up outside.

MOHAN GURUNG: Tell me what you can do. That's what I'm asking every single people who I met.

JONES: Mohan Gurung is president of the Nepal Seattle Society. His family in Kathmandu survived the quake, yet some of their homes are now unsafe, without water, surrounded by rubble. But they have nowhere to go and tell him...

GURUNG: If we have to die, we have to die. We have no choice. We'd rather be inside the home than outside the building.

JONES: Gurung plans to go to Nepal soon.

GURUNG: Those who are in that area, they're traumatized. They can't do anything. So we're the ones who can help, us from outside.

JONES: But first, Gurung's going to Washington, D.C. There, he hopes to meet with Nepal's ambassador to the U.S. and see how his group can help. Others here also plan to travel to Nepal in the weeks and months ahead. Sudah Bogati says for now, she'll help with local efforts.

SUDAH BOGATI: Even the richest person and the poorest person, they're in the same - on the street right now. So there's - I just worry about Nepali people right now.

JONES: And she'll make the trip home to Kathmandu herself when she can. For NPR News, I'm Liz Jones in Seattle.

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