Help for Nepal: Restaurant owner hosts benefit for earthquake victims in his native country

For Kiran Shrestha, it's hard to be halfway around the world from family and friends following the April 25 earthquake that shook his native Nepal.

Kiran Shrestha

Kiran Shrestha

For Kiran Shrestha, it’s hard to be halfway around the world from family and friends following the April 25 earthquake that shook his native Nepal.

“I wish I was there still,” said Shrestha, who returned from a visit to Nepal at the beginning of April. “I don’t feel lucky not to be there. I wish I was there to help.”

Since he cannot make another trip right now, he is hoping to help relief efforts with a fundraiser at his restaurant.

The Dine Out for Nepal benefit is from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday at Curry and Kebab, 24023 104th Ave. SE, Kent. The cost for the lunch buffet is $12.99 per person, with all proceeds benefitting the Nepal Seattle Society earthquake relief efforts.

Shrestha’s cousin, Kamal Chaudhary, who is also his business partner and chef at the restaurant, will prepare traditional Nepalese dishes for the event.

“He has been very kind to offer cooking for this,” Shrestha said.

Shrestha learned about the earthquake after an early morning text from a former coworker. He got a phone call from his mother shortly after.

Shrestha said it took longer to hear from his wife Sarah’s family, who were in one of the harder hit regions.

“We couldn’t get ahold of anyone because the phone line was not working,” he said. “Finally, two days later we heard about her parents. They lost their home. Her brother broke his leg, but still that is nothing compared what other people went through.”

It was a huge relief to find out his family and friends had survived, Shrestha said.

“They are alive,” he said. “That is the biggest thing. I can’t complain about anything else. Of course, they are affected in so many other ways.”

Devastation

The 7.8-magnitude earthquake killed more than 8,000 people, injured more than 16,000 and displaced 2.8 million people.

A 7.3-magnitude earthquake shook the region on Tuesday, killing more than 50 people and injuring more than 1,000.

Shrestha said the second quake was farther away from his family than the first.

“They did feel it,” he said. “It was a big jolt. They were pretty terrified.”

Shrestha said although his in-laws lost their home, they have a place to stay in Kathmandu with their son.

“Her (Sarah’s) father is still in the village helping others,” Shrestha said. “He used to be in the police force.”

It took several days for help to reach the village, Shrestha said.

“There was nobody to help there for at least four days” he said. “All of the villagers were just doing their best to hang in there together.”

He said they had one tarp to create shelter to stay dry. Water supply from the mountain stopped for one day but miraculously returned.

Although Nepal sits on two tectonic plates, most people in the region were not prepared for a large earthquake, Shrestha said.

“It doesn’t go as often as like in California, but when it goes, it goes really big,” he said.

The last large earthquake struck in 1934, killing about 17,000 people.

“Because it is a long period of time, it is easy for people to forget,” Shrestha said.

Shrestha recalled working for an American in Nepal who kept an earthquake kit.

“I would laugh at him,” Shrestha said, but added that now he would be more likely to prepare for such a disaster.

Reaching out to help

Shrestha said the biggest need now is getting supplies to the remote areas.

“There are still so many people up in the mountain who haven’t received anything,” he said. “The government has been criticized a lot about it. Life is totally crippled in the villages. Their concern is what they are going to eat. All their grains are buried with the house. It’s a small house. They put everything in the house. (They have) no clothes, no nothing. So all of our concern is how to get them to survive for the next few months. After that probably the government and some international funds will reach to that probably and keep them going.”

After learning about the earthquake, the Nepalese community got together at a temple in Bothell to discuss how to help and came up with the idea to have various fundraising events. Shrestha said he has donated food for several events in the area.

He said all the proceeds from his and other fundraisers will help the Nepal Seattle Society provide basic supplies, such as tents, food and personal hygiene items, to earthquake victims. Nepal Seattle Society has already deployed teams to Nepal.

Shresta moved to Seattle about 15 years ago, after being invited to the area by a friend he met while working as a personal chef at the U.S. Consulate in Nepal. He attended Seattle Central College and started working for a company that imports rugs from Nepal. He met his wife and got married, and after 10 years at the rug company, decided it was time for a change.

He bought Curry and Kabab about four years ago, since he had a background as a chef.

“Plus I always loved cooking and cooking at home,” he said.

Shresta decided to keep the restaurant’s menu focused on Indian dishes.

“There is not much difference in Indian and Nepalese food,” he said. “We share the same ingredients and style of food, like rice, lentils and curries.”

Shrestha’s customers have been very supportive during the weeks following the earthquake.

“A lot of regular customers come in and are asking (about his family),” he said. “This is very nice. Or people call just to check on how we are doing.”

For more information about the fundraising event, or to RSVP, call 253-520-2440 or visit Facebook.com/CurryKabab.


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