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Nepal family relocates to Valparaiso following earthquake

Nawaraj Shrestha, far right, and his wife Shiva relocated to Valparaiso with their two sons from the village of Bhojpur in eastern Nepal following an earthquake.

VALPARAISO | Nawaraj Shrestha had a pretty good life in his village of Bhojpur in eastern Nepal.

Shrestha, 39, had spent the last 16 years putting his business management degree to work in a government job and was raising his two young children with his wife, Shiva.

That secure and familiar life came to an abrupt end during the late morning hours of April 25 when while visiting with family and friends, his stone home began to shake during an earthquake that wreaked havoc on much of the small nation. His two-story structure was later destroyed by aftershocks and Shrestha's two children, ages 11 and 5, were left so shaken they were afraid to re-enter buildings.

"The kids -- it was a huge psychological impact on them," said Shrestha's brother-in-law Bir Kafle, a Valparaiso resident and assistant professor of math at Purdue University North Central in Westville.

After spending time living in a tent, Shrestha decided to take advantage of an opportunity for an immigrant visa and arrived with his family May 11 in Valparaiso, where they are struggling to rebuild their lives.

Shrestha is desperately looking for work in order to support his family, said Kafle, who interpreted for his brother-in-law. Shrestha, who is attending English classes to brush up on his communication skills, has a Social Security number and is authorized for employment.

He is working to obtain his learner's permit to drive, Kafle said.

The stress of being without a job in a foreign country occasionally takes its toll on Shrestha.

"Sometimes they say, 'We should not have come here,'" Kafle said.

As the family continues to adjust, they are keeping a close eye on the worsening conditions back in Nepal. They said a landslide claimed even more lives last week.

"The more difficult days are ahead," Kafle said of Nepal's struggles.

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