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Nepali Students At North Lake Look For Ways To Help Earthquake Victims Back Home

Dianna Douglas
Sachita Bhattrai works at North Lake College's international center. North Lake is home to hundreds of Nepali students.

North Lake College in Irving is home to hundreds of Nepali students, and they're feeling the impact of last week's earthquake.

Sachita Bhattrai signed papers for two of her fellow Nepali students, to excuse them from their government class. They were busy around campus trying raise funds and collect donations.

“At least we can help from here," she said.

Bhattrai works in the international center at North Lake—a hub for students with counselors and advisers. She says she didn’t move from her couch for hours when she first heard about the earthquake that has destroyed parts of her home country. Now she has raised more than $6,000 from folks around campus.

“Every time I come to the office, they say 'here, you have the donation here.' So every time I come here I feel so good,” Bhattrai said.

She said she was just walking around campus earlier this week when people who recognized her face and handed her $200.

Bhattrai is the secretary of the Nepali Student Association, at a school with more than 200 students from Nepal on visas and another hundred who are permanent residents.

“We’ve seen a lot of their faces over the last few days,” said Wanda Whitten, director of the international center.

Among the students she’s talked to, their families are safe, although many are living in tents or outdoors.

She can barely squeeze into her office right now because of all the boxes of donated supplies.

“We've gotten everything from diapers, and pads for medical uses, and lots of clothing,” she said.

When a van full of donated medical supplies pulled up to her office Wednesday, she had enough. She sent the driver directly to the Red Cross.

Whitten is now asking people who want to help the earthquake survivors to donate face masks, medical gloves, ponchos, and money. She’s also asking her school chancellor and board of directors for tuition relief or scholarship money that is normally not available to international students.

“We know that the support from families is going to be dramatically affected by this event, and for a long time,” she said.

She has also petitioned the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service to allow Nepali students to work off campus—their visas usually only let them work on campus.

Irving has a large Nepali population outside North Lake, too.

Rohini Karki has lived here for 16 years, and works as a student adviser.

”I see new faces all the time,” Karki said.

She helps the Nepali students who are here studying, as well as young people like her own kids who are growing up as the children of immigrants. She says the earthquake may have changed their home country permanently.

“It’s a long impact back there," she said. "It’s going to take time.”