AUGUSTA — The family of an Augusta woman hiking in Nepal when a massive earthquake killed thousands there remains hopeful she’ll be found safe, but has not yet been able to reach her in the disaster-torn country.

Dawn Habash, 57, a yoga instructor who lives in Augusta, last communicated with her family April 17 as she was setting out on an eight- to 10-day trek hiking in the Langtang area, which includes Langtang National Park, north of Kathmandu.

Habash’s family, many of whom also live in central Maine, have been unable to reach her since the earthquake and are very worried about her, particularly as the number of people killed by the earthquake and numerous aftershocks continues to climb past 4,000.

Hope for the family comes, in part, from the fact that it’s hard to communicate with anyone in the rural parts of Nepal where she was trekking, and that communication is surely even harder because of the damage wrought by the earthquake which has made travel and communication difficult at best.

“We’re waiting patiently and holding out with positivity that it’s just a lack of communications, of electricity, barring us from reaching her,” said Habash’s daughter, Yasmine Habash, who lives in Alaska but Monday was traveling home to Maine to be with her family. “We’re trying to stay positive. We’re anticipating hearing from her every day. But we haven’t heard from her.”

Multiple media reports say the quakes appeared to have wiped out nearly the entire village of Langtang and its 600 residents, as well as other villages in that area.

Yasmine, who traveled through Nepal with her mom several years ago, said she’d heard an avalanche destroyed the village of Langtang.

The earthquake and avalanches and landslides it brought also knocked out roads and communications infrastructure, so it’s possible Dawn Habash is safe but unable to reach anyone at home or leave the area.

That is what Yasmine and her brother, Khaled Habash, of Portland, hope is all that is preventing their mom from reaching out to them.

“We’re presuming there was a lot of infrastructure damage, which knocked out the ability of people to move,” Yasmine Habash said. “Our family is hoping that is the reason we haven’t heard from her.”

Khaled has contacted the American Red Cross and the U.S. Embassy and posted on a Facebook page established to help find missing people following the Saturday earthquake. His mother is an experienced world traveler on her fourth trip to the impoverished but beautiful, mountainous country of Nepal.

He said his mom communicates with them on an iPad, because cellphone service, even normally, is unreliable in much of Nepal.

She was hiking alone, not with an organized tour company, though her family suspects she met and befriended other trekkers along the way.

Khaled Habash’s post on a Facebook link helping loved ones find people missing in Nepal states, “She is thought to be by herself but we are hoping she had met up with some other trekkers to follow. We are very worried about her and fear she may be hurt and needing assistance. She has trouble with her knees from time to time.”

Throughout the day on Monday, friends posted positive thoughts on Dawn Habash’s Facebook page, saying they are “anxiously awaiting a message from you” and calling her “a very strong person and a survivor.”

Dawn Habash grew up in Gardiner and teaches yoga in the Augusta area, both in her own home-based studio, Soul Exposed Yoga, and at other class locations.

Her trip to Nepal is part of a six-month sabbatical, which started with a trip to another favorite destination, India, where Dawn and Yasmine spent five weeks together. At the end of their trip to India, March 20, Yasmine returned to Alaska while her mom flew to Kathmandu, Nepal, to continue her adventure. The trip was to include trekking and meditating. She was expected to fly out of Nepal April 29.

Yasmine said her mom was drawn to both India and Nepal, places where she found comfort and peace. Both Yasmine and Khaled have traveled in Nepal, hiking the Annapurna mountain range, with their mom before.

“Nepal is a special place to us. It’s amazing,” Yasmine said of the small country and its people. “It has a beautiful tranquility and peace to it, and the people. The nature of the people there is so amazing, it keeps taking you back there.”

Yasmine said those who wish to help the family and Dawn Habash may send their prayers, good thoughts and positivity. She noted there are numerous ways people can donate to help the people of Nepal recover from the natural disaster.

She said the country is devastated, and conditions there are poor.

“Nepal needs help, so the country and people can recover from the earthquake,” Yasmine Habash said.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj


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