This July, Hari Dahal was looking forward to showing his 16-year-old daughter the beautiful, historic sites of his home country of Nepal, especially the attractions of the capital city of Kathmandu.
However, any hopes he had of showing his daughter the city he lived in while in college were dashed on Saturday, April 25, when a 7.8 magnitude earthquake, followed by multiple aftershocks, tore the city and surrounding areas apart.
Hari is just one of more than 700 Nepalese Long Islanders who found their lives turned upside down when they heard of the earthquake. The Plainview resident found out the news from a friend of his wife, who called and left a voicemail. Immediately after hearing the news, his thoughts went to his family.
“It was terrifying, it was panic,” Hari said. “And that panic is still there. It doesn’t go away. You see these pictures, these videos. It just escalates each day.”
All of Hari’s family, including his parents, siblings, in laws and extended family, live in Nepal. Trying to get in touch with them was a challenge, as phone lines were down and there was no electricity or internet. After two hours, Hari was able to confirm that his immediate family, who lives outside Kathmandu, was safe, though they did feel the quake. However, several members of his extended family and a friend remain in critical condition.
For East Meadow’s Ravi Dahal, who is no relation, that limbo of not knowing what had happened to his family stretched over an excruciating two days.
“I was panicking,” Ravi said. “All your attachments are out there and you haven’t heard from them for two days. It hurts. But then they called me and that’s how I knew they were okay.”
As Nepalese natives, Hari (who immigrated 15 years ago) and Ravi (who immigrated six years ago) still feel a strong connection to their home country. Hearing their families members talk about the devastation has been tough, but they still have a longing to be there.
“It’s a weird feeling. You want to be there, but on the other hand you’re scared for your life. It would be nice to be with my family to share the burden and pain,” Hari said. “Even if you know you would be putting yourself in danger, you want to be there.”
As of May 4, the death toll in Nepal was more than 7,000, with almost 14,000 listed as injured. The needs are plenty—people are in dire need of food, water, shelter, medical aid and much more.
While a trip back to Nepal right now is not practical, Hari and Ravi, who are members of the Long Island Nepalese Society, are currently collecting money, clothes and medical supplies to send overseas. Last week alone, Hari said they collected dozens of bags of clothes and more than $7,000 to send to Nepal relief efforts.
“It feels so good,” Ravi said on being able to send materials back to Nepal. “If you could give anything back to your country, especially at this point, you feel so proud.”
Items are being collected at Hari’s house at 6 Rustic Ct. in Plainview. You can also drop off donations at boxes that have been placed at Apna Brothers and Patel Brothers in Hicksville. Monetary donations can also be made online at www.gofundme.com/sxyvtk
“We will try to make every effort to make sure we do the right thing through the right people with the right guidance,” Hari said. “We want to make sure the funds go to the right place. We’ll try our best to make sure funds we collect are used in the right ways.”