Chester County Students Caught in Quake While Helping in Nepal

Two Chester County natives teamed up to spread humanitarian aid following the initial Nepal earthquake that killed more than 8,000 people last month. Amid their relief efforts, another quake unexpectedly struck the nation Tuesday.

University of Delaware student Juliette Maas, 24, was traveling in India when news first broke out of the April 25 earthquake. The next day she boarded the plane to reunite with her longtime friend and UDel alumnus Allen Gula, 27, who was already in the country on a thirty day trek when the quake hit.

“We both entered Nepal at different stages,” Gula explained. “I came here on March 18 and Juliette came here about a month later.”

Despite worldwide media attention, Maas and Gula were not aware of the severity of the earthquake until they met up in the capital city of Kathmandu.

“We got our first images of the earthquake on May 1,” Gula said. “That was the first time we checked social media and realized we hadn’t done the best job communicating to our friends and family.” 

Since that moment, Gula and Maas have been working around the clock to provide aid to victims of the deadly earthquakes through immediate relief in addition to long-term recovery plans.

“We didn’t realize until about a week later of what had happened,” Gula said of the first quake. “And when we did, we’ve kind of been in a whirlwind for the past ten days responding in relief work and making plans for long-term projects here in Nepal.”

Following the first quake, Juliette and Allen met up with their friend Orion Haas, who was also in the country assisting with relief efforts. The three decided to launch a crowdfunding campaign to help reach their long-term goals.  

The campaign has already raised more than $9,000 in the past 6 days. The money would help bring long-term, sustainable housing to rural Nepal communities if they can reach $30,000 in 30 days.

And just before Tuesday morning, life was seemingly beginning to return back to normal. But by late afternoon, Nepal’s National Operation Center reported at least 40 deaths and more than 1,000 injuries due to 7.3 magnitude tremor.

Both Juliette and Allen are now making plans to extend their stay in the country until they achieve their relief efforts. 

"We've committed to staying here for the next month," Maas said. "But we're researching now how to get the proper visa to stay here much longer."

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