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Kathmandu Residents Work To Help Communites Ravaged By Earthquake

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

While humanitarian aid is beginning to arrive, it's not getting to communities as quickly as people need it. That's what Nayantara Gurung Kakshapati told us earlier today. She's a freelance photographer who lives in Kathmandu. She says basic necessities like food are scarce, causing some people to panic.

NAYANTARA GURUNG KAKSHAPATI: Today, we did have a somewhat scary experience. We were distributing bread in several vehicles, but there were areas where the number of people in a particular area was much higher than the amount of bread we had in stock in the car. And so people were almost mobbing the vehicles.

CORNISH: Saurav Rana also went out to volunteer to help people today. We reached him earlier on a working, but scratchy, phone line. He told us it was the first time since Saturday's quake that he'd left his home. His entire family has been sleeping outside, something, he says, he can't get used to.

SAURAY RANA: First night was - once nightfall came and people got everyone to bed. I couldn't sleep. It's eerily quiet at night. It's like, you know, it's like watching a horror movie or, like, being in a horror movie, where you know something's going to happen, but you don't know when and what. And you're just waiting. You're just waiting for something to happen. It's - you know, it makes you very nervous. Today, I'm a lot more calm. Today was the first day I actually ventured out beyond my neighborhood, went and volunteered. I went and actually sort of walked over to my friends' places in a nearby area I can walk to. It was nice seeing them - nice seeing people who are safe. And, you know, it's - that really made me feel calm. But, like, having to come to terms with one's own mortality is really difficult. And at the same time, having to overcome that anxiety, take care of those around you, you know, old people, young people, everyone. It's been a very testing time - very difficult time.

CORNISH: Is there anything you think people should understand about what's going on? I know you sort of have limited kind of Internet activity. You may see some of the coverage. What do you think people should understand that they don't?

RANA: People should understand it's - right now, for Nepal, it's a very difficult time - A, the fact that a lot of our - most of our heritage, our monuments, our heritage has been destroyed. And that's completely demoralized the population. You know, it's - imagine the monuments in D.C. or the Lincoln Memorial, you know, imagine them being brought down to rubble. It's a demoralizing effect on the population. And, you know, we're trying to balance this. How do we mourn? Or how do we, at the same time, capture the courage that we have and still, you know, fight through this. It's really difficult. And I'll give you an example. My nanny - basically, she took care of me when I was a child. She was my second mother. She's been with the family the whole time. She's a part of my family. Her first cousin died when her house collapsed. She got the news yesterday morning, and she really doesn't know how to react and how to mourn with that. She cried for a bit. But, at the same time, she knows there are a bunch of young girls here, young people here and my grandfather, who's nearly 90 years old, who's here - we need to take care of all of these people. We don't really have time to mourn for our people. We need to take care of people who are actually alive and make sure they stay alive and continue through this thing. We need to keep our spirits up - Nepali people. And then we would really love the help that anyone can give from anywhere that would help us keep our spirits up and, you know, make us continue wanting to fight and help the ones that are still with us.

CORNISH: Saurav Rana, thank you so much for speaking with us, and our thoughts are with you and your family as you're going through this.

RANA: Thanks very much, Audie. I really appreciate it.

CORNISH: Saurav Rana - he's a consultant for the World Bank. He lives in Kathmandu. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.