AFTER experiencing the devastation of the Nepal earthquake first-hand, Oliver Kohlenberg is urging Northern Rivers residents to get behind supporting the embattled nation.
While the former Byron Bay High School student and his British girlfriend, Daisy Hatton, flew to the Gold Coast last Wednesday, their hopes and thoughts were with friends in Nepal.
"This morning our porter called and he's safe and his family are safe but his village is destroyed and they had six tremors yesterday," he said.
"We would like to try and raise some money and awareness of what happened to their village just north of Kathmandu in Kathmandu Valley.
"They have no help so far and they are all sleeping in tents."
"When it actually hit we were in a coffee shop and at first everyone ran out, then we ran out and I thought earthquake," he said.
"Then I thought someone had bombed Kathmandu because there was just smoke and dust everywhere and people were running in all directions.
"You couldn't really run when it was happening because you were just getting thrown from side to side."
It was like a movie scene, Mr Kohlenberg said. "The road started cracking in front of us and continued to crack all the way up the road.
"I started to think it could be the end of the world, because being from Australia you don't really think about earthquakes."
Mr Kohlenberg said he grabbed Daisy and headed for a large car park, where they sheltered for six hours as aftershocks hit, then they went to the British Embassy where they stayed for several days.
With return flights already booked, the couple needed to get to their hotel at Durbar Square to get their passports.
"We were in a taxi driving along roads where buildings had fallen down and bodies were being pulled from the rubble so we had to reverse and find another way.
"Then we drove through Durbar Square, and people were also pulling bodies out all over the place."
Mr Kohlenberg said once they were inside the airport a magnitude 6.9 quake struck and hysteria erupted. "Families and people were yelling and screaming, running everywhere," he said.
Finally, five days after the quake struck, Mr Kohlenberg and Ms Hatton flew back to Australia on the first Air Asia flight out of Nepal.
"We are extremely grateful to be home, but we felt very guilty leaving Nepal. We have been thinking about our porter's village the whole time."
RICHMOND River Express Examiner editor Samantha Elley has teamed up with Kyogle mayor Danielle Mulholland and businesswoman Leah Hobbs to raise money for Nepal earthquake victims.
To donate go to http://www.gofundme.com/trk6xsk
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