Viewtown couple awaits word on family in Nepal

On a visit to the Nepalese village of Kalche several years ago, Surja Tamang and wife Medge Carter flank Surja’s mother, Ama.Courtesy Photo
On a visit to the Nepalese village of Kalche several years ago, Surja Tamang and wife Medge Carter flank Surja’s mother, Ama.

Viewtown residents Surja Tamang and Medge Carter were still waiting Wednesday for a definitive word from Surja’s elderly parents and other family in Nepal after Saturday’s devastating earthquake in Kathmandu and surrounding areas — a 7.8-magnitude quake whose death toll by Tuesday had exceeded 5,000, and could reach as many as 10,000.

“There are no land lines into many of the villages,” said Carter, whose husband Surja’s mother and father live in the tiny village of Kalche in Nepal’s Nowakot district, in the mountains northwest of the capital. “Some places have cell coverage but we think that cell towers are down — or that if cell phone batteries are dead, there’s no way to charge them.”

Through nephews in India and Dubai, Tamang said, he’s only been able to get word, second- and third-hand, from his brother’s wife that many of the stone houses “are all gone” in the region, where he said his sister and his son Amrit’s birth mother also live.

“We are hoping, praying to get good news from my family,” said Tamang, a former Sherpa guide who met Carter on a trek she took through Nepal’s famous mountains. Carter is a longtime inspector for the Rappahannock County health department; Tamang works at the county’s Amissville recycling center.

nepalAmrit-30He said his son Amrit, a 19-year-old Rappahannock County High School graduate who’s now a student at George Mason University, is planning to go to Nepal as soon as exams are finished at GMU, about a month from now.

“They need much help,” Surja Tamang said. “This is very hard on Nepal.”

Nepal government authorities reported Wednesday that more than 300,000 people have left the city of Kathmandu, seeking food, water and supplies of the more remote and rural areas. At the same time, tensions are rising over the government’s rescue efforts, said to be slowed by massive damage to infrastructure and communications.

There’s a May 10 update from Medge Carter here.

For the many who want to donate or help, Carter recommended a Facebook post by Kathryn S. March, an American Nepal scholar with extensive contacts in the country, and particularly among her husband’s Tamang people. A weekend post by March on her Facebook page recommends donations go to Oxfam, Global Giving and Doctors Without Borders, among other, more specifically focused organizations.

Carter, her voice breaking at one point in the conversation, said she and Surja have visited his family in Kalche, including his mother and father, who are both in their 80s, every other year for the last decade. “The last four days have been difficult,” she said.

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