By Jose Olivares
Around 90 students and community members gathered in front of the Joe Crowley Student Union at sundown to pay respects to the victims of the recent Nepal earthquake on Thursday, April 29. The event, organized by the Nepalese Student Association of the University of Nevada, Reno, in partnership with the Graduate Student Association, raised funds for relief efforts. As organizers shielded the candles from the wind, many spoke in support of the victims. The tea light candles were arranged to spell “Nepal” and to also outline the shape of the affected country.
The devastating earthquake struck on Saturday, April 25. The 7.8 magnitude earthquake affected the central region of Nepal, with its epicenter in the Gorkha region. Followed by significant aftershocks, the death toll has risen to over 7,000 people and is projected to continue rising. BBC News reported that more than 14,000 people have been injured and many more have lost their homes.
Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal was greatly affected, as many of its historic landmarks crumbled from the earthquake. According to BBC News, around 100 people from neighboring Bangladesh, India and China have also died from the earthquake.
Bishnu Neupane, president of the Nepalese Student Association and PH.D. student at UNR stated that his brothers’ and mother’s homes were demolished as a result of the quake. He is grateful that no one in his family was harmed. The Associated Press reported that community members of Northern Nevada have not reported being linked to any of the deaths.
Pradip Pathak, business student and member of the Nepalese Student Association is grateful that the Reno community has been generous. However, he was upset by the low turnout of the event.
“Five thousand people [having died, as of Wednesday] is no joke,” Pathak said. “I was hoping more people would show up [to the vigil]. Not one professor in my classes mentioned the earthquake.”
Pathak, who has family in the Eastern region of Nepal, stated that it was not too difficult to contact them. Verizon Wireless, AT&T and T-Mobile announced that texts and calls to Nepal are free of charge in response to the earthquake. He was able to reach his family just two hours after the quake.
According its Facebook page, the Nepalese Student Association has already raised more than $3,000 for relief efforts and he hopes to raise more.
“[Nepal] needs as much help as they can get from the international community,” said Neupane.
Jose Olivares can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @TheSagebrush.