The 7.8-magnitude earthquake in Nepal on April 25 left three UC Santa Barbara students shaken. For the two graduate students and one undergraduate student, the devastating temblor that has claimed the lives of thousands of people was personal, as it occurred in the country of their births.
Now these students – doctoral students Pawana Shrestha and Dhilung Kirat; and undergrad Shekhar Paudel – have organized a fundraising campaign to assist in relief and recovery efforts. Mindful of the need for long-term assistance and the importance of empowering local organizations, the students have set up a fundraising site on Crowdrise, with all proceeds going to Shikshya Foundation Nepal. Shikshya is a local nonprofit organization based in Nepal’s Lalitpur district.
“Thousands of people have lost their lives, tens of thousands have been injured and over a million have been rendered homeless,” Pawana Shrestha, an Electrical and Computer Engineering doctoral student, said in an Office of Public Affairs and Communications (OPAC) news release. Pawana is from the capital city of Kathmandu, where her family lives.
“In the long run, massive amounts of financial and human resources will be required for the reconstruction of damaged infrastructures,” she said. “The road to recovery for Nepal will be a long and difficult one.”
Dhilung Kirat, a Computer Science Ph.D. student, said in the release: “Past experiences of relief efforts, such as during the Haiti [earthquake] relief, have shown that the long-term relief and recovery efforts are more effective when local organizations are empowered instead of international charity brands. I grew up in one of those remote villages in Nepal. I have experienced the remoteness and the disconnect from the outer world while growing up, and I can only imagine the devastated community after such a massive earthquake. I hope our fundraising effort will help ease the current relief efforts and long-term recovery efforts of those remote communities.”
“We want to show capable people what they can do to help,” said Physics undergrad Shekhar Paudel, who moved to the United States with his family a few years ago and has relatives still living in Nepal.
Graduate Division Dean Carol Genetti, whose research as a professor of Linguistics focuses primarily on Nepal, said in the release: “The efforts of these three Nepalese students in the face of the momentous challenges in Nepal are truly impressive. Like so many other UCSB students, they have a strong ethos of service and a deep commitment to their home country.”
Dean Genetti added: “I am impressed that they have also used their research skills in selecting a highly regarded Nepalese foundation to receive the funds that are raised."
For more information about the fundraising effort, read the OPAC news release and view KEYT's video interview with the students. Additional information about the Shikshya Foundation may be found at http://shikshyafoundationnepal.org. Tax-deductible contributions may be made at http://tiny.cc/ucsbnepal.