New York City's Nepali Community Mourns, Rallies to Help After Devastating Nepal Earthquake

Nepalis in New York City are holding vigils and seeking ways to help after a devastating earthquake tore across the tiny South Asian country, killing thousands. 

Prayer and candelight vigils have been held at a plaza in the Jackson Heights section of Queens. Lincoln Everest of Branford, Conn. came Monday with a vow to help "whatever way we can." 

Everest's mother, sister and brother all live in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. They're alive but homeless after the earthquake, living in tents scattered across open areas of land. 

"It's very hard to reach them still," said Everest. "We have a problem with them reaching the telephone."

Emotional, he added, "My heart is fragile. I don't know what to do. I don't know what to do. I wish I could be there and help out." 

The U.S. Census estimates there are about 3,000 Nepalis in New York City, although others say the number is higher.

The 7.8 magnitude earthquake on Saturday caused massive devastation, with more than 3,500 people killed and thousands injured. It brought down buildings and even a monument, and set off avalanches on Mount Everest.

A physician's assistant from New Jersey was among those killed in the avalanche. Marisa Eve Girawong was serving as a camp doctor for a mountaineering company. 

Nepalese-Americans say they can't sit by as they watch the images from their home country. Lhakpa Gurung of Jackson Heights set up a manicure station on the sidewalk as a fundraiser.

"Our people are suffering," she said. 

At a candlelight memorial left over from the weekend's vigil, 7-year-old Sophia Lama kept guard and watched the candles burn. Her grandparents live in Nepal and are safe, but she knows others weren't as fortunate. 

"I think of how the people died in the earthquake," she said.

Strangers also wrote words of faith, hope and sympathy on a rainbow of sticky notes, leaving them on a wall. 

Everest, who's gathering a team to go to Nepal, offered his own words of promise: "We are coming. Help is on the way."

A Pray for Nepal candle vigil program will be held at Branford Town Hall in Connecticut at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Everest said. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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