Daily Egyptian

Students start relief campaign for Nepal

By Austin Miller, @AMiller_DE

More than 5,000 people are already confirmed dead after Saturday’s earthquake in Nepal.

To help send aid back home, members of the Nepalese Student Society of Carbondale have created a fundraising campaign on GoFundMe.com and are taking donations in the Student Center and Morris Library this week.

Ramesh Neupane, a doctoral candidate in higher education, said the group is trying to raise $35,000, but once they reach $2,500, they can withdraw the money and disburse it. He said some of it will go to the Red Cross, but they are looking for agencies in Nepal to deliver aid swiftly.

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“If we give to the Red Cross, it will take some time to reach Nepal,” Neupane said. “We are trying to find a valued organization in Nepal where we can directly wire transfer our donation for them to use immediately.”

Finding the right aid program to donate to was an important choice for the group.

Diwash Gautam, a graduate student in plant, soil and agriculture systems, there has been recent political instability and several scam websites preventing money from reaching those who need it.

He said the Red Cross is a great group to donate to because some non-governmental organizations, or NGOs, may not use all the money they receive in Nepal.

“A lot of NGOs can use the money to further their own interests,” he said. “We just want the money to be utilized for help and peace, not for war or to the fill the pocket of someone else.”

Conditions in the mountainous country are expected to worsen as landslides have occurred from subsequent aftershocks. An estimated 200 people are missing after a landslide on Tuesday hit north of the capital city of Kathmandu.

Basanta Dahal, president of the Nepalese Student Society, said small earthquakes were frequent in Nepal, but this was the largest to occur in more than 80 years.

Dahal, a doctoral candidate in biochemistry, said his home of Janakpur is a flat area in eastern Nepal, which has seen no casualties. He also has family safe in Kathmandu, which was 8 miles from the epicenter of the quake.

He said many of the towns are overpopulated and are poorly constructed.

“We were always waiting for this,” he said. “Every 80 years, we have a big earthquake, and this was the 82nd year since the last one. People were already afraid and had started making stronger homes.”

Santosh Dhakal, a graduate student in structural engineering from Nepal, said the issue of building safety is his primary concern. He said sanitation issues are a big problem with harvest season coming up.

He said diseases like malaria and cholera could become prevalent if proper bathrooms and houses are not rebuilt and repaired.

From there, buildings need to be inspected for livability. He said buildings that are stable could be retrofitted better to the earthquake conditions.

“Everyone thinks it could just be a small crack [on the outside], but there will be heavy damage inside and nobody knows it’s there,” Dhakal said.

Neupane said it is tough to be in Carbondale while people in his home are suffering. He said a few Nepalese students plan to go home and help after the semester ends.

They will hold a candlelight vigil at 7 p.m. Thursday at the fountain in front of Faner Hall. Donation tables will be up from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday in the library and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. through the weekend in the Student Center.

Austin Miller can be reached at a [email protected]

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