Standing with brothers and sisters in Nepal

by Barbie Fischer, communications manager & administration coordinator

Top of the World Coffee in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Top of the World Coffee in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Those living in Nepal still tremble following a magnitude 7.8 earthquake that hit on Saturday, April 25. It was centered less than 50 miles from Kathmandu.

Dale and Bethsaba Nafzinger, who have ties to Vincent Mennonite Church (Spring City, Pennsylvania), own and operate Top of the World Coffee,  a café in Kathmandu. The Nafzigers reported they are all well, with little to no damage to their home and shop. However, the region is severely devastated, including several buildings in their town that crumbled.

Since the initial earthquake, there have been several aftershocks that continue to rock the region, including a 6.7 magnitude quake.

Dale says that growing up towards the end of the Vietnam War, he occasionally heard the term “shell-shocked”; now, he is experiencing it firsthand. Every time a loud jet passes overhead, causing the building to shake, or loud thunder crashes in the distance, he and others find themselves scrambling for safety.

In the midst of this, the coffee shop re-opened on Wednesday, and so far, response has been far greater than anticipated. When the Nafzigers opened the coffee shop, one of their goals was to offer a space of refuge, with comfort food and a comfortable environment in the middle of a very intense city. They are grateful, they say, to see their vision coming to life in a way they’d never imagined.

As recovery continues, Dale and his family have extended an invitation to the shop staff welcoming them to “both ‘live with us’ and ‘eat with us’ until things reach a state of normality, albeit, a ‘new normal.’”

In other areas, aid workers have struggled to reach several communities, such as those in the district of Gorkha, where the earthquake was centered, due to the mountainous terrain and devastation from the quake. The death toll has now risen to over 5,000, with thousands more injured. There is still hope, though: Not only have the Nafzingers reopened Top of the Mountain Coffee, recently a young man was pulled from the rubble after spending over 80 hours buried under what had been the Kathmandu Hotel.

Many are wishing to offer aid and support to brothers and sisters in Nepal as they tremble in the aftermath of this tragedy. Recovery will be a long process, and as Dale notes, it will be important not only to give immediate humanitarian aid but also invest in long-term initiatives to rebuild communities in the region.

If you would like to support recovery and rebuilding efforts in Nepal you can do so through Mennonite Mission Network’s Earthquake Response in Nepal or to Mennonite Central Committee’s fund for Nepal. If you want to follow the progress of Top of the World Coffee, you can do so on their Facebook page.