Nepali students doing their best to support earthquake victims
Ramesh Pandey, a first-year master’s student in physics at CSU, has seen all of the photos. He has watched all of the video. But in Fort Collins, he can only imagine the devastation in his home, Nepal.
“To be honest, I just feel so guilty for not being there,” he said. “I feel like I should be there instead of here, where I am safe.”
That’s a common feeling among CSU’s small community of Nepali students following the deadly earth quake over the weekend that left more than 5,000 dead and thousands more injured or missing. None of CSU’s nine students from Nepal lost immediate family members in the quake but the impact is real.
“Everyone in the country has been impacted,” said Simrik Neupane, a Nepali who graduated from CSU in 2014 and is waiting to start law school in the fall. “People have to sleep outside in tents because they fear aftershocks, and food and water are scarce. It’s a terrible situation.”
Pandey grew up in the capitol city, Katmandu, but said his grandparents live in the small (pop. 200) village of Lamjune, which is near the quake’s epicenter. His grandparents escaped death but others were not as fortunate.
The feeling of helplessness was eased somewhat Tuesday night when a crowd of around 200 joined a vigil in the Lory Student Center plaza. Also, Nepali students set up a table in the LSC to take donations to help ease the suffering in their country. They collected $400 on the first day alone.
Pandey said his parents talked him out of returning.
“The only thing I can do pragmatically is to seek donations,” he said. “It would cost me almost $1,600 to fly home, so it would be better to donate a portion of that money to the Red Cross or UNICEF.
“The people in Nepal have been through a lot over the last 20 years, from floods to landslides and the revolution. But Nepalese people are known for their resilience and I’m sure they will bounce back from this.”
In the meantime, Pandey is happy he’s among friends at CSU. Once he finishes wok on his master’s he hopes to earn a Ph.D.
“To be honest, I feel like this is home,” he said. “People have been very nice to me, and all of my professors have really helped me. I had never traveled to the United States before I came here, and it was a big culture shock at first. But the people here are very nice, and the mountains remind me of home.”
Our entire Colorado State University community joins with people worldwide in offering our deepest sympathies and support for the people of Nepal as they confront the devastation of this weekend’s earthquake. This crisis hits very close to home for our students from Nepal, and I ask that we all join in lending them whatever comfort and assistance we can during this terrible time. We also know that there are members of our local Fort Collins community who were involved in climbing expeditions on Mount Everest who have been impacted, and they, too, are in our thoughts.
When our CSU staff met with members of our Nepali Student Association yesterday, the students expressed their desire to encourage people to contribute in whatever ways we can to the recovery effort. At this time, the best way to help the people of Nepal is with a financial contribution to the international aid agencies that are actively engaged on the ground in rescuing, housing and feeding people in distress. The USAID has published a list of agencies actively working in Nepal that are in need of support, and our Nepali students are focusing fundraising efforts on the Red Cross, the United Nations World Food Program, and Handicap International.
Ours is a caring and compassionate community, and we are privileged to have strong international academic partners around the world, including Nepal. Our hearts and spirits are with them now, and in the difficult days to come.
Dr. Tony Frank
Additional ways to offer support
The 2nd annual Hach Walk for Water event, co-sponsored by the CSU Water Center, will be Saturday, May 2, in Loveland. The walk simulates the trek millions of people face each day as they walk miles to access a water source. All funds raised will support Nepal through the walk’s beneficiary, Water Missions.