April 28, 2015

Nepalese students plan vigil, start relief fund

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Nepalese students at Southern Illinois University Carbondale are coordinating a memorial and fundraising effort to help their countrymen following last weekend’s devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake. 

With the toll still rising and major aftershocks still occurring, officials say more than 4,600 people are dead and more than 9,000 injured in Nepal. 

More than 40 students from Nepal, along with some family members, reside in the Carbondale area. The Nepalese Students Society (NSS) of Carbondale, a registered student organization on campus, is sponsoring an earthquake candlelight vigil and memorial at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 30, at the fountain in front of Faner Hall. Everyone is welcome to attend. 

The students have also begun an Earthquake Relief Fund to collect donations and support relief efforts. They have created a Go Fund Me account, online at http://www.gofundme.com/swysjc, where people can make donations. They are also hosting tables at the Student Center and at Morris Library to collect donations. A table will be in place from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. each weekday, and possibly on weekends, at the Student Center through next week, and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday (April 29-30) at the library. 

In addition, they have created the Nepalese Students Society Earthquake Relief Fund at Old National Bank in Carbondale. The account number is 128220963 and people can make donations directly into the account. 

Organizers say all donations will go directly to the Red Cross, the Rotary Club, United Nations relief efforts or directly to hospitals providing treatment to the injured. Ramesh Neupane, a member of the NSS, said the organization will assure that all donations go strictly toward non-profit organizations providing aid and toward relief and recovery efforts.  

The epicenter of the quake was about 50 miles northwest of Kathmandu and in the days since the quake, many significant aftershocks have hit, causing more damage and resulting in people living outdoors unprotected, even during heavy rains, according to Neupane. Some of Neupane’s family and friends as well as the friends and family of other SIU students are among those living in such conditions. 

He said the situation is becoming more dire because there is no electricity, and little or no water and food that are safe to consume. He and his fellow Nepalese students also are fearful of disease and health epidemics. The first priority for the donated funds is meeting the immediate needs of survivors for food, clean water, fuel, hygiene products and shelter. Then, monies will go toward more long-term recovery efforts directed by vetted local organizations. 

“We want to do everything we can to help our people return to normalcy. Even the donation of a penny counts. Even a penny could save a life. Every donation is greatly appreciated,” Neupane, a doctoral student in higher education and administration from Bhaktapur, said. 

The NSS will continue its fundraising efforts for at least two weeks and the goal is to raise at least $40,000 for Nepal relief. 

For more information, visit http://www.gofundme.com/swysjc, or contact Basanta Dahal at dahaldahal1989@siu.edu (203/823-7299), Ramesh Neupane at rameshnpn@gmail.com (305/766-4488) or Sandip Dahal at sandipdahal@siu.edu (618/340-6247.)