Morrisville and Cary are home to thousands of people with connections to Nepal, and government officials are helping them raise money and find family members in the wake of the country’s deadly earthquake.
U.S. Rep. David Price (D-N.C.) came to Morrisville Monday to offer his office’s support to the local Nepalese community. As a member of the House Appropriations Committee and the co-chair of a group that helps bolster ties with developing countries, Price said he will be pushing for more federal aid to be sent to Nepal.
“We will certainly try to be generous, and also certainly try to encourage full international cooperation,” he said.
His office can also help people get in touch with family or address questions about charities, he said, directing people to find contact information on his congressional website.
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“That’s what we’re here for,” Price told the crowd of about two dozen Nepalese people who came to meet with him at Morrisville’s Town Hall.
“People can criticize government all they want, or say they want no government, in some cases,” he said. “But this shows me, actually, the power of government.”
The Town of Morrisville also is using its reach, displaying a donation link on the town’s website to the Nepal Center of North Carolina, based in Morrisville, which started raising money hours after the earthquake hit.
“There’s really only one or two generations (of immigrants from Nepal) in the United States,” Stohlman said. “So there’s a lot of parents and grandparents back there.”
The Nepal Center has held fundraisers, too, including at a Hindu temple and a Whole Foods grocery store.
“We have been doing everything possible to reach out to different communities,” said Ishwar Devkota, an engineer for the state who is active with the Nepal Center.
Chandra Giri, who works for Duke University and the U.S. Geological Service, said his wife is in Nepal helping with relief efforts. Stateside, Giri said, he organized fellow researchers around the country to assist relief efforts and give advice for careful, data-based rebuilding.
Price helped direct funding for the U.S. government’s rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Katrina. He said that taught him such efforts are great in theory, but challenging to implement.
“That’s very important,” Price said. “It’s also very difficult. ... It’s very, very hard to do that. It’s emotional, people just want to move back home, and a balance has to be struck.”
Price said one priority for Nepal should be updating and enforcing its building codes, to prevent future earthquakes from being as devastating. He said the United States can help provide technical assistance on that and other issues.
He’s the ranking Democrat on the House Democracy Partnership, which offers nation-building assistance to emerging democracies, including Afghanistan, Kosovo, Colombia and Liberia.
The group doesn’t officially work with Nepal, but Price said several Nepalese officials were in Washington talking about forming ties when the earthquake hit. Price said the officials impressed him by finalizing the talks before returning home.
But some in the audience Monday said the Nepalese government is known for corruption, and they questioned whether aid and donations would really go to rebuilding efforts.
One man said there was a similar situation in Haiti, after that country’s own deadly earthquake in 2010, that he feared might happen in Nepal as well. Price said that’s a valid concern but doesn’t think the two countries are comparable.
“There was a lot going on in Haiti that’s not going on here” in Nepal, Price said.
“No, you don’t want to just pump money into a non-functioning government,” he continued. “But at the same time, I think there’s more our government could be doing.”
Doran: 919-460-2604; Twitter: @will_doran