Local News

From research to relief, UNC prof plans to stay in Nepal

Posted April 28, 2015

After surviving one of Nepal's worst earthquakes in decades, thousands in the disaster zone are looking for a way out. On Mount Everest, stranded climbers wait for a helicopter to ferry them from base camp, while in towns and villages people are sleeping outdoors, frightened that an aftershock will bring down any walls left standing after Saturday's magnitude-7.8 earthquake.

But Lauren Leve, an associate professor in the University of North Carolina Department of Religious Studies, is doing just the opposite. After decades of work in Nepal on a book, Leve said should never considered abandoning the people who have become like family.

Leve is based in Kathmandu, where she said aftershocks continued into Tuesday.

"It seems as if the ground was almost continuously moving. We're just sort of waiting to find out whether it's safe to go inside again," she said in a phone call.

Leve learned on Monday that, as an American, she would be on the fast track to leave the country. Officials have asked tourists to leave the country so they can focus the recovery effort on local residents, and commercial flights are operating in and out of the
international airport in the Nepalese capital.

"It would be very difficult to look my friends in the eye and say, to people that I've built relationships with for the last 25 years, that I am able to leave and I'm leaving," she said.

"Nepalese are still left at home after the earthquake and are still living outside, on the road and any open area they can find," she said.

Leve said she plans to help where she can and stay as long as she can be useful.

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