Former Somersham resident launches appeal after being caught up in Nepal earthquake

Helen Karki Chettri, who grew up in Somersham, with her husband Nir and their dog Burt.

Helen Karki Chettri, who grew up in Somersham, with her husband Nir and their dog Burt. - Credit: Archant

A former Somersham resident who has been caught up in the Nepal earthquake has appealed for donations to help get those affected back on their feet.

Helen Karki Chettri, 34, who grew up in the village, now works in international development and her husband, Nir, 32, is Nepalese.

She had a baby girl, Isabelle, three weeks ago and had been joined in Kathmandu by her mother, Angela Colclough.

Helen said: “I was preparing to feed Isabelle when the earthquake struck. It was terrifying.

“Having lived in Nepal for a while I knew to wait in the house and went straight under a doorway whilst holding Isabelle. I screamed at Mum to join us and we stood together for what felt like a life time holding her in between us.


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“I was expecting it to die down much more quickly than it did and the whole house was shaking from side to side. I was sure it was going to topple over and decided to take our chances and run out of the building.

“Our dog Bert had been behaving strangely for the 24 hours which preceded the quake. When the big one struck she bolted for the balcony and didn’t leave with us.

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“Whilst we waited outside I called for her but it took an age before we were able to get her out.

“Once the adrenalin had passed we were both incredibly shaky. The aftershocks were also equally terrifying as many of them were very strong and they went on for days – in fact stronger than other earthquakes to have struck Nepal in recent years.”

The family were forced to live in a tent for four days after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck.

Fortunately baby Isabelle has taken events in her stride.

Helen added: “She didn’t really notice the difference. I joked that the earthquakes probably felt like being rocked to sleep for her.

“Also instead of waking the three of us up at night she was a little alarm clock for our extended family and around 50 of our neighbours who were sleeping beside us under the poly-tunnel where locals grow vegetables.”

Helen’s husband works for PHASE Nepal, a non-governmental organisation that runs health and education outposts in rural Nepal.

Helen and her sister, Anna Shelmerdine, who is back in the UK, have launched an appeal for funds for PHASE.

INFORMATION: To donate to the appeal visit uk.virginmoneygiving.com/rebuildingruralnepal.

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