- The Washington Times - Monday, April 27, 2015

For Jack Tiwari, the past few days have been a whirlwind of activity as he has tried to keep up with the news and learn the fate of his family following the devastating earthquake that struck his native country of Nepal.

“My parents are there, my brothers are there, my in-laws are there,” said Mr. Tiwari, president of the Centreville, Virginia-based America-Nepal Society, a focal point for the Washington area’s Nepali community.

“My in-laws’ home is broken; they’re living under the sky right now,” Mr. Tiwari said in a telephone interview. “They don’t have enough food to eat and their drinking water is very scarce as well. That’s the situation in Nepal. There’s a lot of suffering.”

As the world rushes to the aid of a disaster-ravaged Nepal, Washington’s Nepali community has joined the effort to respond to a natural disaster that has now claimed around 4,000 lives, according to officials.

The America-Nepal Society, founded in 1967, is a nonprofit that serves the Nepali community in Virginia, Maryland and the District — one of the largest Nepali-American populations in the country.

The society has launched its own “Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund” calling on “all individuals, businesses, and social organizations in the region and across the country” to join the effort and contribute to relief efforts for the natural disaster.

Mr. Tiwari said Monday that, in addition to collecting funds, the organization also is assembling a volunteer pool that should be ready to go assist on the ground within a day. The group is collecting medical supplies, food and water to send to “remote areas where no one has been so far.”

“There are about 200,000 Nepali currently living in the U.S.,” Mr. Tiwari explained, “and everyone is currently doing whatever they can wherever they are.” Mr. Tiwari has also been in recent contact with organizations such as the Red Cross and UNICEF in trying to coordinate relief efforts.

The disaster has left many of these Nepali expatriates around the world frantically trying to connect with loved ones back home.

Following news of Saturday’s quake, Baltimore restaurateur Prem Raja Mahat, known to millions in his homeland as the “King of Folk Music,” said he spent an entire night on the phone in an attempt to reach his son, who was in Nepal visiting friends and family.

“My wife was crying, crying so much, ‘My son is not here, keep calling, keep calling.’ All night I called, but I could not get through,” Mr. Mahat told the Associated Press, before finally learning his son had survived and was living in a tent.

Washington-area residents have delivered food to the Embassy of Nepal at in Northwest Washington to aid disaster-assistance efforts, and Himalayan Heritage, a local Nepali restaurant, will be donating 25 percent of this week’s profits to earthquake assistance.

Nepali groups throughout the United States have also come together in the quake’s aftermath. The Baltimore Association of Nepalese in America held a candlelight vigil to honor earthquake victims on Sunday, while the Nepali community in Colorado is currently organizing a cultural event to raise funds for victims, which is expected to draw hundreds.

In Chicago, the Chicagoland Nepali Friendship Society has brought together several community organizations to collect resources to assist in the relief effort, according to a report by the Chicago Tribune.

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