Last Saturday tragedy struck Nepal. A devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake shook the country near its capital, Katmandu, killing more than 5,000 people so far, displacing tens of thousands of others and destroying much of the city’s cultural heritage.
While the country’s government and the international community rally to deal with the aftermath back home, the Nepali community here at the W has come together to help with the relief effort.
William Simmons, the university’s international coordinator, said that the reaction was almost immediate.
“Fortunately a lot of the students here had a call to action, you know, and said to themselves ‘we can help even though we are abroad, and we are gonna be doing these efforts, we are gonna be promoting the cause, spreading awareness,” said Simmons. “All the credit goes to the Nepalese Student Association and many of its members.”
And lot of work is being done.
Sadhana Thapa, a Nepali student and graduating senior, said that the main focus right now is to raise money effectively. She and other Nepali students are encouraging the community to donate funds directly to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and World Food Program USA, organizations that can get resources to Nepal right away, without delay or taxation.
Nepali students have also placed donation boxes all around the W campus and in town, and are asking everyone to donate items urgently needed such as medicine, non-perishable foods and hygiene supplies.
According to Thapa, anything helps.
“We are doing something small, but something that may bring big help. We don’t have any big capacity to help, but even if we can help 100 families, it will make a big difference,” she said.
Thapa’s hometown, Bhaktapur, was hit hard. While her family is safe, her home was lost in the quake, and she doesn’t know the whereabouts of some of her friends. Still, she finds both solace and inspiration in her mother’s strength throughout the ordeal.
“This morning I talked to her, and she sounded stronger than a few days back,” she said. “It’s emotionally hard to watch, but she was helping and kind of guarding other people so that they could get a little sleep. You know, third night on the street, is hard.”
Another Nepali student who has been leading the relief efforts on campus is Sandeep Manandhar. The senior from Katmandu undertook the effort of collecting, marking and distributing most of the donations boxes. He has also talked to many businesses and organizations in Columbus to raise funds, and is helping organize a candlelight vigil on campus. Yet, it doesn’t feel like enough.
“It’s pretty hard,” he said. “Right now I think that’s all I can do, and other than that I just feel helpless and that kind of sucks.”
That sentiment is shared across most all of Nepali community on campus, and Simmons explained why.
“They are hurting, it hurts. It’s their own country. That’s their history, their culture, their childhood, and for devastation like that just to hit suddenly … so much is gone, so much history is gone, temples gone. You kind of feel helpless, too,” he said.
To help, the university has taken an open-arms approach, doing anything it can do to help. On Saturday, president Borsig opened up his house as a reception and support center for students where both refreshments and counseling were available. That same day Simmons took a group of the Nepalis to a Hindu temple in Jackson, Miss.
“Tragedies like this can show the worst in people, as in with fraudulent companies seeking money,” said Simmons. “But I think you also see the best in people. And you see humanity, and you see love, and you see kindness at play, and you are seeing a lot of that at the W.”
For more information on MUW’s relief effort for Nepal, visit facebook.com/pages/The-MUW-Initiative-for-Earthquake-Relief-in-Nepal.