One Month After Quake, Reedies Support Nepal

By Danielle Juncal ’15 | June 1, 2015

Reedies around the globe have mobilized in response to the earthquake and aftershocks that have caused mass destruction in the Kathmandu Valley.

One month since a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, the country still seeks support during a time of hardship. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), the temblor severely impacted fourteen districts in Nepal, killing more than 8,000 people and destroying roughly 500,000 houses.

Members of the Reed community have jumped to the aid of the Nepalese with fundraising, activism, and on-the-ground action. Suraj Pant ’11, for example, runs the Twitter account @nepalnews, which gives frequent updates on the news and events in Nepal. Reedies like Suraj hope to generate sustained support in ways both big and small as the media shifts its attention elsewhere—as it inevitably will.

Shreya Shrestha ’10 is bringing aid to Nepal in a big way.

Currently pursuing her M.D. at Dartmouth, Shreya cofounded Aasha for Nepal, a non-profit that helps the medically underserved, in 2013. Aasha for Nepal is currently offering immediate relief to earthquake victims with a three-pronged approach: providing healthcare, sending relief supplies, and building semi-permanent shelters.

“We are dealing with the trauma of the earthquake, but there is so much to address that gets lost in the multiple layers of this problem, and the mental impact is just huge,” says Shreya, who has collaborated with Dartmouth for Nepal and sister organization Nepal Aasha. “This effort has been a student-and-faculty-led initiative, and I have felt very supported by Reedies as well.”

Shreya was on the ground in Nepal for two weeks in May providing health care via six mobile health clinics that served over 500 people.

Xeno Acharya ’09, meanwhile, founded the Students for Nepal, a coalition of students advocating for expedited relief and fundraising money for the Nepalese at different colleges and universities. A student at Harvard University, Xeno is currently “working on a new petition directed at USAID (United States Agency for International Development) to increase their funding for UNOCHA, and a request to other donor country governments to do the same,” he says.

His concerns about the earthquake in Nepal, however, are tied to larger problems with natural disaster preparedness and response.

“...The fact that we have dismally poor response and preparedness to almost every disaster situation in the world shows that there is a systemic problem, and not enough attention is paid to the fact that [a natural disaster] could, and has, come upon nations rich and poor,” he said via email.

In 2008, Xeno built a school in the slums of Kathmandu that was later destroyed by government bulldozers.

Back in Portland, Reed students and staff have organized a group called Reedies for Nepal, which has raised $2,285 for Mercy Corps' Nepal Earthquake Response Fund. The group, spearheaded by Nepali natives Akrish Adhikari ’18 and Swati Shrestha ’10, advertised their efforts through tables at Commons, and they plan to continue their work and pursue a more robust fundraising campaign during the Fall semester.

Tags: International, Service, Alumni, Students