At Hurried News Conference, Area’s Nepalis Appeal for Aid

Nepal 1in

US Congressman Al Green at the Nepali community meeting on Monday, April 26 with (from left) Madhukar Amatya, past President of the Nepalese Association of Houston; Marty McVey, candidate for Mayor of Houston and a Director of USAID; Dr. Anjali Jain and her brother Dinker Amatya, both founding members of the NAH.

By Jawahar Malhotra

HOUSTON: Shockwaves of panic and confusion due to the earthquake in Nepal 8,500 miles away reverberated throughout the Nepali community in the Bayou City as its members tried to make sense of the unfolding events and tried to reach loved ones by phone, email or social media.

In desperation, and as usually happens in unexpected disasters and tragedies like this, many formed an informal phone/email chain to disseminate information and formulate a response to aid people in their Motherland. And, as usual, they turned to local leaders and other communities for help. The local Indian community arranged for a get-together at India House, organized by the India House Board, the India Cultural Center, Sewa International’s Houston Chapter and the Nepalese Association of Houston.

Meanwhile, the NAH arranged for a community meeting, news conference and  candlelight vigil with their representative, US Congressman Al Green (D-9th Dist.) at 6776 Southwest Freeway where three Nepali businesses owned by the prominent Amatya family have their offices. The meeting was held was held in the atrium of the building with about 50 community members who rushed for the 3pm meeting on Monday, April 27.

Green showed up with three of his aides and shortly after arrived Marty McVey, who was invited by Green. McVey is a prominent businessman who announced in January that he is a candidate for Houston Mayor in the upcoming elections this Fall. He was also appointed to the six-member US Agency for International Development by President Obama  in 2011 and told the gathering that he has spent a lot of time in Nepal in the past few years discussing development issues, including disaster awareness programs.


Congressman Green immediately took control of the meeting, laying out a framework for conducting it. He called for a moment of silence for prayer and admonished people who were videotaping the meeting to make sure everyone got a copy of it or not to record at all. He then related the events that he was aware of: 4 dead Americans on Mount Everest; 80 evacuated to the US Embassy and American Club; that Katmandu Airport was closed to commercial flights and that the $1 million in aid that the US Embassy had released had now been increased to $10 million. He also said that heavy plastic for building shelters had been given away to about 35,000 people.

“This tragedy allows the US to show the softer side of our military,” continued Green, as he described how two rescue teams had left for Nepal, one from Fairfax County, Virginia and the other from Los Angeles. McVey chipped in that two other planes had left from Washington, DC. Green said it was very difficult to transport goods in situations like this, that it was best to send money and later committed to donate $1,000 to the $22,000 that the NAH has already collected. McVey matched that pledge with his own for $1,000.

Green also revealed that he would file a bill the next day in Congress to allow Nepali citizens already in the US on a legal visa on April 25, 2015 to remain here for an additional 18 months and be allowed to work so that they would not have to return to an unsafe place. Such provisions have previously been made in 1998, 2001 and 2010 during other natural disasters. Green emphasized sending money over volunteerism, and even gave out his personal cell number for those wanting his help.

The current president of NAH, Jyoti Ghimirey explained that the his organization is a non-profit that is collecting donations to send to Nepal, and asked Green for his help in raising more donations. Green said he would speak with the Turkish, Chinese and Vietnamese communities with which he was meeting later, to contribute. Vishnu Nepal, Secretary of NAH, asked the Congressman for help in locating displaced or missing people in Nepal.

To donate to the earthquake relief, contact:
Nepalese Association of Houston, 6776 Southwest Freeway, Suite 450, Houston, TX 77074; 713-773-4348;
SEWA International (Houston Chapter), P.O. Box 820867 Houston, TX 77282-0867; 708-872-7392;