Nepal Native Wants To Rebuild Schools In Stricken Nation

The Wellington Village Council unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday in support of the citizens of Nepal and their families, supporting the relief efforts in the aftermath of the recent earthquakes and the ensuing devastation in that Asian nation.

Wellington resident Bijaya “B.J.” Kattel, a native of Nepal, asked for the resolution at the council’s April 28 meeting.

Earthquake-prone Nepal experienced a series of quakes during the past month, including the 7.8 magnitude event on April 25 that is believed to have been the worst since 1934. The earthquakes are believed to have killed more than 8,000 people and injured more than 21,000, with the aftershocks leaving people afraid to go into their homes or businesses, instead camping out in open areas.

“You might have heard [of] or seen the devastation at 7.8 on the Richter scale, and more than 70 aftershocks have damaged that country badly,” Kattel told the council. “I have been living here more than 17 years in the village, and I love it; there are many other native Nepalese living in the village. What I would wish is that the council put some kind of statement recognizing the devastation and damage. That would give some kind of relief that is soothing to people like me, because many people have relatives there who are homeless, [including] my wife’s family.”

Kattel, a wildlife ecologist with the South Florida Water Management District, said he worked in Nepal and did his doctoral dissertation in the foothills of Mount Everest, which had quake-related avalanches that killed 20 people on the mountain and left more than 200 people missing in nearby villages.

Kattel said his wife’s family is safe, but their house was destroyed. “They’re living with their relatives,” Kattel told the Town-Crier on Wednesday. “They are kind of refugees.”

He said that many organizations, including the United Florida Nepal Association-FANS, have been raising money for relief efforts that have already been undertaken.

“Now, I would like to see more of a rehabilitation and reconstruction phase, rather than jumping into immediate relief,” he said. “The best thing is bringing up the future. Children and education is the thing that I would like to focus on in the recovery phase. The schools and all the institutions — all the buildings are gone. Out of 75, 36 districts have been affected, so anywhere we can go and do this recovery in the education sector. That is what I would like to see, because we always have a focus on education.”

His wife, Archana, has a nonprofit organization, the Abi Kattel Memorial Foundation (, established in memory of their son, who died in 2005. “It focuses on education,” Kattel said. “We have been involved in Nepal through scholarships in the past, and one of the goals and objectives is to help institutions in Nepal. This falls in this category. I would like personally to focus on that, because there is so much to be done. If we pick up one or two schools, for example, and bring them up to the extent that children, the future citizens of Nepal, can get education, then they will have a future.”

Kattel would like to start small, with possibly 40 children being furnished with school books and clothing, and eventually helping to rebuild a library and a school. He said the web site will have a special portal added for those who wish to donate to earthquake relief efforts.

“It will be put into a separate account,” he said, emphasizing that donations for earthquake relief will be specifically for educational purposes. “Let’s bring that country up every way we can, because that’s where I grew up. I used to work for the national park service in Nepal, so I have traveled almost the whole country on foot.”

Kattel can be reached at (561) 358-6549 or


ABOVE: Bijaya “B.J.” Kattel