UC Berkeley students, local businesses organize aid for Nepal after earthquake

Laxmi Prasad Ngakhusi/UNDP Nepal/Creative Commons

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After a 7.8 magnitude earthquake shook Nepal on Saturday, UC Berkeley sophomore Samiksha KC received a long-awaited text in the middle of night.

It was from her father, who was able to reach family members in Nepal, updating her on how they were doing. Although her extended family survived Saturday’s earthquake, they were displaced and living in tents.

KC is the fundraising coordinator for UC Berkeley’s Nepali Student Association, and she began a fundraising campaign to aid Nepal. Along with the student group, local business owners are planning efforts to send aid as well.

The earthquake caused avalanches on Mount Everest and affected surrounding areas in China and India. More than 4,000 fatalities and 7,000 injuries have been reported, according to the New York Times. Survivors are choosing to live in tents even with rain due to fear of aftershocks, which residents say they felt every few hours since the earthquake struck.

While her father’s side of the family did not see the most severe damage to their home, they are still living outside. Her mother’s family, who lives in Nepal’s capital city of Kathmandu, were “very lucky” to be visiting relatives when the earthquake struck.

KC created a GoFundMe campaign to fund water purification supplies, such as chlorine tablets and water-purifying bottles. The Nepali Student Association is also hoping to collect hygiene packets and other supplies. On Wednesday, the organization will hold a candlelight vigil.

Citing corruption in the Nepali government, the group is reaching out to different organizations to find credible ways to transport supplies.

Destroyed by the largest earthquake to hit Nepal in 80 years, centuries-old Hindu temples have crumbled, along with the homes of many. The United States has pledged $10 million in aid.

Amita Bhandari, owner of a Nepalese restaurant in Albany called Hamro Aangan, said her family in Nepal had not been helped by any organizations as of Sunday night. Instead, the family and community are pulling together in Kathmandu and “surviving on their own.”

No faculty, staff or students are currently registered as traveling in Nepal, according to Andrew Goldblatt, the campus risk manager. In an email, Goldblatt said no UC Berkeley traveller in surrounding areas, such as Tibet and China, has reached out for earthquake-related assistance.

Rescue efforts in remote villages closer to the epicenter of the earthquake have been deterred by inaccessible roads, resulting in inadequate information about their safety, according to the New York Times.

“They’re all afraid and scared,” Bhandari said. “I can’t imagine how they’re living, and it’s raining outside. It’s really terrifying.”

While Bhandari is planning fundraising efforts to help with necessities such as water and medical help, she said psychological aid and therapy for moral support is needed as well.

Dhruva Thapa, co-owner and chef for Taste of Himalayas, a Berkeley restaurant, planned a fundraising dinner for Wednesday. Thapa is talking to airlines to transport supplies to Nepal and trying to organize aid through the Red Cross and Lions Club International.

Puja Dahal is a UC Berkeley sophomore with the Nepali Student Association and grew up in Nepal.

“The fact that the place I grew up in is no longer the same place hurts me a lot,” Dahal said. “There were so many memories, and now they are just some pictures in my photo album.”

Contact Jamie Nguyen at [email protected].