From afar, Colorado’s Nepalese send help after devastating earthquake

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<p>(Nathan Heffel/CPR News)</p>
<p>Lhaka Sherpa and his wife Dickie own Sherpa House.</p>

It’s been a little over a week since a devastating earthquake rocked Nepal and killed thousands of people. For the roughly 3,000 Nepalese in Colorado, the aftermath and recovery has been stressful as many try to help their families thousands of miles away.

Nearly all the Nepalese who work at Sherpa House Restaurant and Cultural Center in Golden have family who have been affected by the quake.

Shyam Budha is among them. He has a 21-year-old daughter named Grace who was in Kathmandu when the earthquake struck.

He finally received a phone call from her just a few days ago.

"She said, 'We got the earthquake. It’s like everybody’s outside I’m outside," you know?"

As international aid floods into Nepal, Budha said his daughter is traveling to remote parts of the country to offer any help she can.

"They told me that today they are going to a village to help doctors, to translate or help. I’m very glad that she’s doing that even when I’m not there," he said.

picture room at Sherpa House
The picture room at Sherpa House. These photos were taken by Sherpa just above his village near the base of Mount Everest.

Lhakpa Sherpa owns the brightly painted Sherpa House restaurant. He opened it seven years ago and much of the décor inside comes from his childhood home not far from the base of Mount Everest.

"A lot of these pictures came from my own village. These are the scenes that can be seen right above my village. I took these pictures in 2009," Sherpa said.

Sherpa said he first heard about the earthquake through social media, and wasn't sure his family had survived. When he reached them by phone two days later, he found his immediate family was fine. However, one of his cousins working at the Mount Everest base camp died in the avalanche which followed the quake.

"He got buried underneath the avalanche. I met him two months ago when I was back in Nepal, he has a couple of little kids probably two year old, three year old," Sherpa said.

Supporting Nepal from a distance

Sherpa’s wife Dickie said that since the quake there have been a steady stream of people coming to the restaurant offering words of encouragement.

"People from Golden are supporting us a lot right now. In Nepal, it’s very hard and difficult times. I’m very happy to see people from all around the world helping," she said.

Sherpa and his wife helped organize an online effort that raised more than $10,000 for the Nepal recovery effort.

Justin Ham is among those wanting to help. He’s a recent graduate from the nearby Colorado School of Mines. He went to Nepal with the Sherpa family a few years ago, and he's planning to return and help his friends in the country rebuild.

"Friends and acquaintances who hear I’m going to Nepal, or at least planning on it, say like 'that’s so cool, you’ll be able to help out there.' And it’s not something that’s cool," said Ham.

"It’s very devastating. These are people that I know who no longer have houses and they are really going to be struggling in the next year, two years -- five years."

While Ham tries to return to Nepal, Shyam Budha can’t, at least not right now. He said one of the main reasons is simply the cost.

"I really wish I could be there at least to support family and friends during this time and helping people who are victimized," he said.

But Budha does continue to send money to his daughter when he can.

Lhakpa Sherpa plans to visit his home country later this year. But for now, he’ll continue to check in with his family in Nepal every few hours, and organize relief efforts from his restaurant in Golden.

Meanwhile, coming to grips with what has happened in his home country has been difficult.

"What did the Nepalese people do so bad in our past life to suffer this much in this life?" he asks.