Student to student: Utahns are reaching out to Nepal
May 5, 2015
On April 25th I awoke to a Facebook notification informing me that four of my six Facebook friends in Nepal were accounted for. The rest of the day was one filled with fear and horror as I learned of the devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake and attempted to find out if my friends and acquaintances had survived.
Although those I know were lucky, more than 7,000 people have died and the body count continues to grow.
My first memories of visiting Nepal took place so early in my life that they are starting to become cloudy around the edges. I remember smiling faces, friendly people, and a rich culture set against a backdrop of poverty that manifested as children my own age begging in the streets.
As I grew older, I continued to travel to Nepal with my father and his non-profit, The Himalayan Cataract Project.
Now, in the wake of the earthquake, as monsoon season approaches and thousands are left without shelter, it is time to pull out our pocketbooks and make whatever difference we can.
Non-profits such as UNICEF, CARE, and the Nepal Red Cross Society are already doing relief work but they need more funding.
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In addition to the larger international charities, there are several Utah-based non-profits attempting to make a difference.
The Apa Sherpa Foundation, a Salt Lake based non-profit, is working inside Nepal right now. Apa Sherpa and Jerry Mika started the foundation in 2010 to fund education and help empower Sherpa families. One-hundred percent of all donations will go to the relief effort.
"It’s tragedy. It’s devastating. It’s horrible, there are no other words for it. They can rebuild, they are strong people but if we can just help them get out of the elements. They’re good people all the way around and they need help," says Mika.
Apa, who has lived in Salt Lake City since 2006, was in Nepal delivering supplies before the earthquake hit. He survived and has since returned to his village, Thama, to help rebuild. He has sent word that 85 percent of the village was destroyed in the earthquake.
"We can do a lot from even half a world away; a dollar goes a long way there. If an earthquake hits Utah just remember the shoe will be on the foot," Mika added.
The Nepalese Association of Utah is also participating in the relief effort.
"We have been in Utah for the last 10 years. One of our missions is to get our community’s people together and keep our culture intact even when living abroad. Now, with the earthquake we are collecting funds and donations. We will be donating all that money to an earthquake relief fund in Nepal," explained the association’s Vice President Aarati Ghimire.
"We are all global citizens and we are all human beings and we all suffer when a disaster happens. It’s a global community, not only a local community," she explained while also pointing out that Utah, a state known for its generosity, could also face an earthquake of its own.
"Salt Lake City is a high-risk place for earthquakes. If Utah had an earthquake we would hope the world would be helping."
The association is collecting money and deciding where the funds will go. They are currently collaborating with the Red Cross and UNICEF "to ensure everything we collect goes to relief."
Choice Humanitarian, a Utah based NGO that works in Nepal, is also involved.
The Himalayan Cataract Project is providing free medical treatment to trauma victims as well as relief materials. All donations will go directly to Nepal to help victims of the earthquake.
The organizations supporting Nepal need help. Nepal’s current situation may seem overwhelming, but everyone has the opportunity to make a difference.
Organizations working in Nepal:
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