A UD student and alumni are working to provide support to the people of Nepal.

Relief for Nepal

Students, alumni, community take action in response to earthquakes in Nepal


1:29 p.m., May 18, 2015--Members of the University of Delaware community have banded together to provide support and relief for those affected by the April 25 and May 12 earthquakes in Nepal.

At dusk on Tuesday, May 5, The Green in front of Memorial Hall filled with students, faculty, staff and Newark residents who had come to light a candle and show support for those affected by the tragic event on April 25.

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The vigil was organized by a group of Nepali students at UD and co-sponsored by the Office for International Students and Scholars, Graduate Student Government and the Office of Graduate and Professional Education.

Amanda Czik, a doctoral candidate in school psychology, jumped at the chance to provide a sense of community for her Nepali friends in their time of need, and commented that she “was excited about the opportunity to do something tangible to say that they are in [her] thoughts and prayers.” 

She urged UD students to remember that “even though things are happening far away, it is something to care about.”  

During the vigil, Dr. Rey Agard, who heads the Delaware Medical Relief Team (DMRT), also announced plans for a three-month volunteer presence in Kathmandu.  “No matter our background or race, we are our brothers’ keepers. We could not just sit back and do nothing,” he said.  

The DMRT has sent an advance team of three doctors to Nepal to provide logistical support for three to four additional teams, which will follow in the coming weeks.  

After providing its services for the first time in response to the Haiti earthquakes, the team has revised its approach to provide even better relief. “We didn’t want the problems we had in Haiti,” noted Agard. “We realized that in these situations, we really need good planning. We want to make sure that when we get there, what we are doing is very effective.“

UD alumnus Rohan D’Souza will be among those in the DMRT helping with logistical support. 

Across the globe, nearly 8,000 miles away, UD student and former Boren Scholar Juliette Maas has met up with UD alumni Allen Gula and Orion Haas to set up camp in Kathmandu. 

Together, they will stay on to provide long-term support to the community.  Currently, the team is volunteering through a group of non-profit organizations to provide immediate relief. However, their plans are to establish a long-term presence in the area. 

“After we develop contacts and spend some time here, we’ll identify an area, a cluster of affected communities to do a rebuild in September or October,” said Gula.

The team has completed several supply runs in their short stay in Kathmandu.  However, a morning trip was cut short when the second earthquake hit. 

If anything, the second, 7.3 magnitude quake has only reaffirmed the need for volunteers like Maas, Gula and Haas.

“We’re in an ongoing, prolonged process of seismic activity that is still affecting people. People died again today and there is a new wave of uncertainty,” noted Gula. “It is a necessary reminder that there are a lot of people going through a hard time who need support. That is our primary role as human beings.”  

Featured in USA Today, the Blue Hen team plans to raise $30,000 in 30 days via an Indigogo campaign for funds to support the rebuilding of communities after the monsoon season.

Back on campus, Pragyan Khanal, a sophomore neuroscience and biological sciences student born in Nepal, urged students to continue to support the relief efforts. “Everything throughout Kathmandu, the religious monuments, the cultural sites, are just torn apart.  People are trapped under the rubble. It is really rough,” he said.

Khanal noted a number of ways to support the cause, including monetary donations to support the immediate and long-term relief effort.  Thus far, the University community has raised over $1,500 for UNICEF.  Those who wish to donate are encouraged to do so via Gula and Maas’ Indigogo campaign or the UNICEF Relief Fund at UD

Khanal also challenged the community to keep spreading the word and to stay informed. 

Out of this natural disaster, a small but tight-knit cohort of UD Nepali students has begun brainstorming ways to continue the momentum and to raise awareness in the months to come.

“We want to start a more formal organization to put on events and fundraisers for more long-term fundraising and education,” commented Khanal. “We would love for everyone to keep these events on their radar.”

Gula, who continues to update friends, family, and followers with positive updates from the field, encourages everyone to see the beauty that has come from what are undoubtedly traumatic events.

“It’s easy to see the doom and gloom,” he said, “but there are so many fascinating stories of unification going on here, and it is really a blessing to be in this country and to watch people bond together.”

To learn more about the ongoing efforts of Gula, Mass and Haas, and to stay updated on the current situation in Nepal, members of the community are encouraged to follow the group on Facebook and to stay updated on the Indigogo campaign.

Mapping assistance

In addition to this work, a group of UD geography students is working on campus to assist in mapping efforts to aid in the earthquake response.

Article by Nikki Laws

Video materials courtesy of Allen Gula

Video by Kristina Magana

Photos by Evan Krape

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