Four hundred members of the Seattle area’s Nepalese community gathered at the Hindu Temple and Cultural Center in Bothell on Sunday to pray for those affected by the devastating earthquake.
Prayas Shrestha was on the phone with his parents in Bhaktapur, Nepal, around midnight Friday when the line went dead. Assuming the connection had been lost because of an outage, the Bellevue resident started browsing the Internet, waiting for them to call back.
Then he saw someone had posted a photo of a damaged temple. After seeing more photos, everything started to come together, and he realized there had been an earthquake. He feared the worst.
Shrestha’s fears were confirmed when he spoke with his parents about two hours after the earthquake: His cousin had been on the roof of the family’s house when the shaking started, and fell to his death.
How to help
These are among the agencies accepting donations:
• World Vision: worldvision.org or 888-562-4453 (weekdays)
• World Concern: www.worldconcern.org/nepal or 800-755-5022 (weekdays)
• CARE: www.care.org or 800-422-7385
• Nepal Seattle Society: www.nepalseattle.org
• Doctors Without Borders: www.doctorswithoutborders.org or (888) 392-0392.
• American Red Cross: www.redcross.org.
• Sahayeta: www.sahayeta.org
• Save the Children: www.savethechildren.org or 1-800-728-3843
“It’s really sad. I spent so much time with him; we even shared a room when I was younger,” Shrestha, 34, said. “He has a small daughter. She turned 1 seven days ago.”
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Shrestha was one of about 400 members of Washington’s Nepalese community who gathered Sunday at the Hindu Temple & Cultural Center in Bothell for a prayer service, organized by the Nepal Seattle Society. Many brought donations, which organizers said will be sent to the Nepal Red Cross Society.
By Sunday afternoon, $9,500 had been donated to the fund.
“This is a really difficult time for all of us,” Nepal Seattle Society General Secretary Mohan Karki said during the prayer service. “When we come together as a society, it means a lot.”
Local Nepalese residents spoke about the difficulty of getting in touch with family members, many of whom are sleeping outdoors, in the rain, fearing continued aftershocks. Some have only communicated with them through a single phone call or Facebook message.
“Everything is lost,” said Shrestha, who also worries about looting as residents forced outdoors become more desperate. “Everyone is just living in the moment.”
Before the prayer service started, one man looked at his phone and saw he had a message from a relative, who told him they had just felt another tremor.
Residents also spoke about their hopes for the future of Nepal, while acknowledging relief efforts could take years.
“There are lives lost, and our heritage and culture, that’s all wiped out,” Ashlesha Rijal, 20, said. “We can help reconstruct a new future but we can’t get back what was lost.”
The Nepal Seattle Society said it will be planning more events, including a peace walk around Green Lake next weekend.