- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 6, 2015

VALPARAISO, Ind. (AP) - At 4 a.m. April 25, Valparaiso University student Sajana Shrestha received a phone call from friends that would change her world.

They woke Shrestha to tell her that her home country of Nepal had just had an earthquake registering 7.9 on the Richter scale.

Shrestha, a student at Valparaiso University, had left family behind in Nepal in January to come to the United States to earn her master’s in nursing education.

“I was terrified,” Shrestha said. “I tried to call but couldn’t get through.”

Finally, after two hours, Shrestha was able to speak with her parents, her brother, and her aunts and uncles, all of whom live in the Katmandu Valley, less than a mile from the earthquake’s epicenter.

“There were all right,” Shrestha said. “But still I was not happy because of all the lost lives and everything that was destroyed.”

Shrestha, who works in the Valparaiso University Office of International Programs, and her friend, Emily Prough, a program coordinator in the same office, joined forces to help raise money for Nepal’s disaster relief efforts.

Shrestha presented “Earthquake Disaster in Nepal,” at the university’s Gandhi-King Center to raise awareness and funds for the Red Cross.

As a landlocked country between India and China and the home to Mount Everest, the highest point on earth, the country continues to experience earthquakes, as the Indian plate moves about 2 inches per year. Just as the residents of the Midwest are schooled in tornado preparation, the residents of Nepal are provided information about how to survive in an earthquake.

More than 81 percent of the residents are Hindu and the country is “rich in culture,” said Shrestha, as there are 123 languages spoken and 80 ethnic groups.

While 7,000 lives were lost in the April 25 earthquake, many of the country’s culturally significant sites and temples were destroyed. Shrestha said rebuilding costs may exceed $5 billion.

Audience members listened to Shrestha’s presentation, shocked at photos of the devastation and loss of life.

Shrestha appealed to the audience to “pray for Nepal” and for donations to the Red Cross for disaster relief and rebuilding, which supporters are calling Help Raise Nepal. At the presentation, the Valparaiso International Center sold fair trade coffee and chocolates with all proceeds going to the Red Cross Nepal relief efforts.

“I had felt hopeless until Emily said ‘let’s do something for your country,’” Shrestha said. “Now it is time for me to give back.”


Source: The (Munster) Times, https://bit.ly/1F2zSvA


Information from: The Times, https://www.thetimesonline.com

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