By Kalli Damschen
The 7.8-magnitude earthquake that devastated Nepal on Saturday has impacted people worldwide, and Baylor students are banding together to aid in fundraising for relief efforts.
As of Monday afternoon, over 4,000 people have been confirmed dead, with an additional 6,500 injured. The earthquake was the worst Nepal had experienced in over 80 years. Since Saturday there have been more than 100 aftershocks, including one with a magnitude of 6.7.
The quake also caused devastating avalanches on Mt. Everest which killed 18 climbers. Three of them were Americans.
A number of international Baylor students are setting up a table in the Baylor Sciences Building on Tuesday morning to collect donations for the Red Cross Society that will directly aid Nepal.
“The Red Cross is really proactive, and has many people, first responders that go on the ground and help a lot of people,” said Swastika Raut, a doctoral candidate in biology from Nepal who has helped organize the fundraiser.
The international students are also planning a candlelit vigil for the victims of the earthquake on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m., but the location is currently undecided.
“As humanity, we should do something for crises because we don’t know if this is going to happen to us tomorrow,” said Shiva Acharya, a sophomore biochemistry major who was born in Nepal. “Life is unpredictable, so we should help those who are in need.”
Acharya and his family moved to Texas five years ago, but many of his friends lost their lives in the earthquake. Others are still suffering from the limited resources.
“Hunger is really bad,” Acharya said. “We want to do as much as we can to provide them with food and everything, and medical kits. Most of the people have physical wounds.”
The earthquake was so severe that tremors were felt in neighboring China and India, even though the epicenter of quake was in the Gorkha district of Nepal.
People worldwide have banded together to send aid to Nepal. Entire villages in the remote mountainous areas were destroyed by rockslides. Many homes were destroyed, both in villages and in the capital city of Kathmandu. Homeless refugees have established tent cities in Kathmandu, while others are fleeing the city in hopes of finding a safer area with more resources.
The quake has caused shortages of food, water and medical supplies. There have also been electricity outages. Hospitals are overcrowded and are running out of space for bodies.
Many important historical and cultural buildings were also damaged by the earthquake. Famous temples, statues, towers and squares have all been destroyed.
“Because of the earthquake, Nepal lost most of its national heritage,” Acharya said. “We lost almost all of our heritage.”
The United Nations children’s agency reports that over one million children are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.
Political discord within Nepal may add extra difficulties to relief and rebuilding efforts, making the international response more important.
“The thing with disaster and hunger relief is that there are stages,” said Dr. Cynthia Harr, a professor in the School of Social Work. “They’re in the first stage, which is the emergency of trying to get people out. The kind of people they need there now are the people who can do the searching.”
Shortly after the immediate need for trained rescue teams, Nepal needs basic necessities and supplies.
“Soon is the need for water, food, medical help, and depending on the time of year, shelter and blankets to keep warm,” Harr said.
Although some people might be eager to get directly involved with aid efforts, the need for financial assistance is more dire, said Joben David, a graduate student from India pursuing his master’s degree in the School of Social Work.
“There’s a lot of things in the world that you say ‘don’t just throw money at it,’ but in disaster situations they need help quickly,” David said. “It’s one of those cases where a lot of money is needed. Financial support is a big thing.”
Harr and David both said monetary donations are significantly more helpful than donations of clothing or food, since it’s easier and more affordable for organizations to acquire such supplies locally.
Before donating money to aid Nepal, research organizations and discover what percentage of their money goes directly to aid efforts.
“It’s important to check out which organizations you give to,” Harr said.
Some reputable organizations that both Harr and David recommended were Doctors Without Borders, World Vision, Compassion International, the United Nations and church or denominational organizations.
“It’s oftentimes a really good idea to give to an organization that is already there functioning and working, and will probably be there afterwards,” Harr said.
Nepal will be recovering from the earthquake damage for an extended period of time, so international aid will be an ongoing process. David said that one of the most important ways to help Nepal is to stay up-to-date on developments in Nepal and continue donating money throughout the recovery process.
“Stay on it,” he said. “Get informed. Give when people stop giving.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.