Buffalo State's Nepali students raise awareness for victims in their devastated homeland
As Nepal continues to be dug out from the aftermath of an earthquake, some of its natives are gathering in Buffalo to help combat the devastation.
At an information session and candlelight vigil, on Tuesday, Buffalo State College’s Nepali Student Association shed light on the needs of the Nepalese people.
Shree Siwakoti, Vice President of the Bhutanese-Nepali Community of Buffalo, said even the smallest donation to the earthquake victims goes a long way.
“A penny counts,” said Siwakoti, “Because a dollar here is like a hundred rupees over there, which means a dollar can save a life.”
One dollar is enough to feed a family for a day in Nepal, according to Associate Professor of Physics Ram Rai, who is a native of Nepal. He said it is also the average daily salary of a worker in Nepal.
Rai was the keynote speaker of the information session. Having lived through one of Nepal’s previous earthquakes he knows first-hand how the country can be rocked by natural disasters.
Rai noted that in many of the country’s rural areas, it is mostly women and children who have been left to deal with the earthquake’s aftermath, because many Nepalese men leave the country to work abroad.
“And probably some of them who are left there are helping other victims,” said Rai.
Rai showed images of victims being cremated on pyres in the Hindu tradition. In the nation’s capital, Kathmandu, there has been a shortage of wood and enough space for the burning. Because of the volume, Rai pointed out that some parts of the tradition have had to be dismissed.
“They usually open during daytime,” he said. “They don’t cremate at night time. But there were so long cue that they had to run 24-7.”
Most of Kathmandu’s UNESCO world heritage sites have been severely damaged, if not destroyed. Nepali Student Association President Som Dhital said he is uncertain about their future.
“I’m wondering, sitting here, how are they going to build the same thing? There is very beautiful thing, very beautiful history related to that building, that temples, and I don’t know what will happen next,” said Dhital.
Rai says the most urgent need in Nepal right now is food, water, shelter, and medical supplies. To help support that need, the Nepali Student Association is gathering donations to send to Nepal through Buffalo State College and the American Red Cross.
If there is one good thing that has come out of the earthquake, Rai said it was that it served to draw the Nepali student community closer.
“This tragic event brought them together, and they plan to do something,” Rai said. “There were not many – around 15 students – all of them found two or three who were not in contact, they didn’t know each other. So this event, this tragedy brought them together.”