Nepal Earthquake Hits Close To Home For WKU Grad Student

May 4, 2015

It took nearly six grueling hours and a sleepless night for Indu Bhattari to find out her family was safe following the massive earthquake that devastated the country. 

She was able to talk to her brother in Nepal just minutes after the quake hit, and learned that he and their parents had survived.

"That was a very hard moment for me," the 24-year-old WKU grad student said. "But everybody is fine."

For most of us the news of the Nepal earthquake was riveting, for Indu, it was personal. Her parents live in Kathmandu, Nepal's largest city and a place devastated by unspeakable damage and thousands of deaths. Her brother lives in another part of the country that was spared the brunt of the quake. He was able to get a call through almost immediately.

"It was five or six minutes later I got a call from my brother that the earthquake was very bad in Nepal so he just said he was OK but can't get in touch with my parents, so that was a very difficult moment," she said, "he was trying to get in touch with my mom and dad and also I was constantly trying the phone to get in touch with them. I couldn't sleep the whole night, it was very much a bad moment for me."

She was finally able to talk to her parents five or six hours later. Her parents came out of the ordeal remarkable well; some rough days and nights immediately following the quake but they're all back home now. "There's not much damage. The house was kind of cracked so it was very difficult or very risky to live in that house so they stayed four nights and four days in a temporary shelter," she told us, "now the situation is OK, they're not facing many aftershocks and also there are a lot of people doing surveys of houses and tagging them if they are risky. My parents house is OK for them to live in so they moved in."

Indu's only been in the United States for about five months, this is her first semester at WKU. She's a geography and geology student. Ironically, she came here to study the geology of Nepal and its susceptibility to earthquakes. "As I was going through my research," she said, "I found that Nepal is very much vulnerable to those earthquakes. Geologically speaking it's a very dangerous country to live in.

For the immediate future it's physical and emotional recovery for the people of Nepal and repairs for the homes, roads and buildings. Indu found out "there are lots of people funding GoFundMe groups and there are a lot of organizations working in Nepal. Through social media I found you could donate to the Red Cross or UNESCO through Facebook. The best thing I found was Red Cross."