INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — When Jeff Papa first learned about the devastating earthquake that rocked Nepal, he thought the worst.
“This is going to be really bad,” he said to himself. Papa, who is chief legal counsel for the Indiana State Senate and a Zionsville Town Council member, had reason to be concerned. 26 reasons, actually.
“We have an orphanage we founded in 2003,” he said, referring to his non-profit organization, Youth Enhancement and Training Initiative. Funds go toward operating the orphanage and its 26 boys and girls. A smaller portion of funds are also used to help underprivileged youth in Indiana.
Papa founded the orphanage after visiting Nepal to teach English.
“You saw a lot of homeless kids, a lot of kids without parents, a lot of kids who weren’t going to make it,” he said.
When Papa tried to contact the orphanage, it was hours before he heard anything back.
“At some point, I started sending direct Facebook messages to some of the orphans that I’m Facebook friends with and eventually one of them messaged me back, and then another one, and then another sent me a direct message on Twitter,” he recalled.
They were not hurt. And the three-story orphanage didn’t appear to be damaged.
“Our kids were lucky,” he said.
The orphanage is located in a rural village about 90 miles from Kathmandu.
Papa said the orphans slept outside on a concrete slab for three nights because of the aftershocks.
Inspectors will soon get into the building to ensure it is structurally safe.
Papa said, for now, YETI is directing all funds specifically toward earthquake relief and recovery efforts in Nepal.
“If we need repairs to our building, our kids need some sort of supplies, we would use it for that. If not, then it will go 100 percent…directly toward some sort of recovery effort in Nepal,” he said.
“It’s a very poor country and so they needed help before this,” he said. “Now it’s going to take a major effort to put back where they were.”
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