The 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal on April 15th caused more than 8,000 deaths and set back Nepal’s economy by approximately 20 years. The earthquake’s epicenter was near Kathmandu, the capital and largest city.
A 7.3 aftershock quake hit Nepal Tuesday morning.
According to the U.S. Embassy website, the United States has pledged to donate $27 million to support humanitarian relief activities in Nepal.
The Dharahara tower, the oldest and one of the most significant cultural heritage sites of Nepal, was completely destroyed. Many palaces, temples, and other heritage sites were destroyed as well.
Nepali students at Bates include senior Adnan Shah, junior Sonish Pant, sophomore Aashu Jha, and first-years Deepsing Syangtan and Pratap Khadka. Shah, Syangtan, and Khadka have lived in Kathmandu for most of their lives.
“My house is fine; the wall behind it is not,” said Khadka. “The destruction that the earthquake caused was very random; some very old houses (like my previous employer’s) are fine, while newer modern buildings have turned to nothing but rubble. Lots of aid will be needed to rebuild Kathmandu.”
“After this disaster, people are trying to get back to the normal way of life. It’s going to be very difficult—economically and socially,” Shah said.
After the earthquake, Shah, Syangtan and Khadka have frequently communicated with their family and friends via Facebook, Skype, phone or Viber. Their families keep them updated o the recurring aftershocks that afflict the country.
“This past week there was another minor shock. It wasn’t put in the media, but I got to know that from my mother,” Shah said.
Khadka recalled when he first found out about the earthquake: “I woke up on the last day of April break with twenty two messages from my friends and family on my phone and many missed calls. The world had found out about it so much earlier than I did. Thank God that I read a message from my brother first saying that everyone was fine and did not have to deal with the apprehension of finding out if they were ok or not.”
Syangtan did not hear back from his family until two days after the earthquake.
“I thought the earthquake was small since we have frequent small earthquakes,” he recalled. “However, one of my friends at Bates called me at 3:00 A.M. asking if my family was okay. Then I realized the earthquake was really massive and [caused] huge destruction in Nepal… That period was so scary. I wanted to get information about my family. I felt so sad for not being with my family.”
After the earthquake, the Nepali students hosted a vigil to raise awareness about Nepal and the damage the earthquake caused.
“The vigil was a very good gesture from the Chaplain’s office. It brought together people who wanted to help and support us,” Shah said.
At the vigil Khadka talked about his friend who died in the earthquake, Syangtan gave an overview of the history and culture of Nepal, and Shah shared his response to the earthquake.
The Nepali students later organized a fundraiser, which so far has raised $8,000 from online donations. Their goal is to hit $10,000.
“For me, being far away from home, knowing I might have been able to help them physically–I was feeling guilty. I tried to get over that feeling, and I used that motive for the fundraiser,” Shah said.
The fundraiser, which started on the Bates Facebook class pages, received support from friends, professors and student clubs such as Sangai Asia and Bates Students for Peace and Justice in Palestine. Shah’s friends organized a pay-per-view showing of a boxing fight in the Benjamin Mays Center, and AASIA and Bates Democrats coordinated a bubble tea fundraiser to help the Nepali students reach their goal.
Furthermore, Shah said that Bates students can show their support for Nepal by “Spreading the word; raising awareness. Ask people to donate.”
“As a collection of drops of water can for an ocean, a single contribution from a person can help impact many lives in Nepal. So I would encourage everyone at Bates to support the fundraiser in any way possible. Nepal and [the] Nepalese need support to overcome this situation,” Syangtan said.
1 dollar is worth 100 Nepali rupees, which is enough to buy a full meal for an earthquake victim.
The fundraiser can be found at this webpage.
Click here to read a first-hand account of the earthquake by Max Silverman, who was studying abroad during the disaster.