Union’s religious organizations have united with Nepalese international students to raise funds for disaster relief efforts in Nepal, which was stricken by a 7.8-magnitude earthquake on Saturday, April 25, and a 7.3-magnitude earthquake Tuesday, May 12. More than 7,800 people have been reported dead, by recent estimates, and the death toll is still climbing.
Maya Skeele ’18 and Tshering Lama Sherpa ’18, both born in Nepal, quickly took action after hearing about the damage to their home country.
“Our friends (in Nepal) had started fundraising themselves, and we wanted to help,” said Skeele, “but we were freshmen, so we didn’t know how to start.”
Religious organizations got in contact with Skeele and Lama Sherpa, and then proceeded to coordinate a bake sale.
Director of Hillel Bonnie Cramer first approached them and helped coordinate students belonging to Hillel, Interfaith Youth Core and the Buddhist Student Association.
Cramer stated, “Initially, Hillel was going to independently do a fundraiser based on our commitment to ‘Tikkun Olam,’ which means to repair the world. But then we heard about our Nepalese students and got in touch with them.”
Additionally, Emily Stangle ’16 reached out to religious groups as the leader of the Multi-faith Council, which coordinates religious groups on campus.
Students helped Skeele and Lama Sherpa bake cupcakes in Hillel and make banners. The baked goods were sold in Reamer during common lunch.
After two weeks, their bake sale reached around $600 in donations. They hope that they will reach $1,000 soon.
Proceeds will be distributed to Tevel b’Tzedek, UNICEF and Doctors without Borders.
“We wanted to spread out the money,” said Lama Sherpa, “so we could help with different stages of relief.”
Skeele continued, “People need a response both now and later.”
Skeele and Lama Sherpa also are vocal about donations being given as soon as possible for both immediate first aid and other pressing issues.
The impending monsoon season is dangerous for those without shelter. In the hardest hit regions of Nepal, the earthquake left almost nine out of 10 homes destroyed, stranding displaced residents. Some landslides decimated village structures completely.
Furthermore, the chaotic aftermath opened opportunities for increased human trafficking and sex slavery.
Human traffickers are targeting children survivors, forcing them to engage in sex work during desperate times.
Officials say that weakened border checkpoints allow criminals to cross borders more easily.
Nepalese citizens thus face grim obstacles without the immediate aid of international support.
If students are unable to give cash donations, Skeele and Lama Sherpa state that there are other ways to help Nepal.
Skeele said, “Awareness is the most important thing. Not many people even know where Nepal is, since it is a underdeveloped nation.”
“The #PrayforNepal campaign is a good place to start,” Lama Sherpa said, “but we should do everything we can to help. We both have family and friends there.”
Skeele and Lama-Sherpa want to continue with further events to help fundraise for Nepal relief. At the moment, their bake sale will continue to be held in Reamer during common lunch.
Skeele concluded, “I just want everyone to be aware of what is happening. Nepal was just hit with another earthquake, and not many people knew about the first. Awareness will help Nepal the most.”