A heartbroken Horncastle couple have spoken of their “total devastation” after being rocked by a personal tragedy in the Nepal earthquake disaster.
Robert and Cora Crowder – owners of the town’s renowned garden nursery business - went on a trekking holiday to Nepal 10 years ago.
They befriended a Nepalese family called Tamang - a husband and wife and their five children. Such was the bond between the two families, the Tamang’s daughter Dolama (21) spent six months living with the Crowders in Horncastle last year.
She only returned to Nepal in January.
Dolma and her family were at home in Langtan – a remote region of Nepal – when the earthquake struck.
They rushed out of their home, fearing it would collapse, only to be struck by an avalanche.
Almost two weeks later, Dolma’s parents and young sister are still missing.
Dolma was badly injured while another of her sisters was buried under rubble for two days.
Amazingly, her brother - who was also badly injured - pulled her out of the rubble, traumatised but alive, using his bare hands to dig.
The surviving family members were taken by helicopter to Nepal’s capital city Katmandu for medical treatment.
Mrs Crowder has managed to contact Dolma, who she said is living in a tent.
Now, the Crowders have launched an appeal to raise funds for the family.
Mrs Crowder told the News: “It is difficult to comprehend what they are going through.
“When Dolma stayed with us, she was so bright and so lively. She was like a daughter to me. Now, she’s lost everything.
“Any money she had, she sent back to her family to pay for her sisters’ education.
“When I took her back to the airport, I never ever thought anything like this could happen.
“She was going to learn German, work in Germany so she could help her family.
“Now, she’s lost her mother and father - and one of her youngster sisters.
“You live in hope but really fear the worst after so long.
“Their whole lives have fallen apart...in the space of two or three minutes.
“We’re totally and utterly devastated for them.”
Dolma managed to borrow a mobile phone from a friend to contact the Crowders.
Mrs Crowder added: “I can’t start to describe what that conversation was like.
“Dolma doesn’t know whether her parents and sister are alive.
“She knows they were buried under the avalanche. So were most of her other relatives. She hasn’t heard anything since.
“I told her she was lucky because she is still alive, but she doesn’t see it like that.
“She’s telling herself every minute of every day that she could have done more to help them.
“But Katmandu is three days’ journey from Langtan. Communications are in chaos. Her entire village had been flattened - wiped out. What can she do?”
Mrs Crowder admitted her first reaction was to catch a flight to Nepal.
She added: “I wanted to do something for Dolma and her family. All kinds of things go through your mind but truthfully, what could I do if I was over there? I don’t know where they are. I’d be making things worse.”
The Crowders have considered bringing the family to live in England but admit the idea could be fraught with legal implications.
Mrs Crowder added: “They’ve lost their passports...everything. They are alive but what future do they have?”
*Anyone who wants to make a donation can visit facebook.com/helpdolma or crowdfunding.justgiving.com/dolma.