Students, CSJ Mobilize for Nepal Earthquake Relief

Students and administrators organized fundraising initiatives this week to gather donations for relief efforts in Nepal in response to a deadly earthquake that struck the country last Saturday.

These initiatives include “Georgetown Stands with Nepal,” a student-run fundraising campaign, and a fund set up by the Center for Social Justice that donates to local relief and recovery efforts in the country.

Last Saturday, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, resulting in over 7,000 fatalities, in addition to over 14,000 injured and thousands displaced. The country continues to be at risk of aftershocks and landslides, endangering the efforts of rescue teams who have been in the country for the past week.

In a campus-wide email sent by Vice President for Mission and Ministry Fr. Kevin O’Brien, S.J. and CSJ Executive Director Andria Wisler, the two expressed their solidarity with those affected by the earthquake.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those in the region during this traumatic time, as well as those who have family and friends in the area who may be affected,” the email read.

The email announced that the CSJ will set up a fund on campus to provide donations to a Jesuit organization in Nepal and another earthquake relief organization, which has yet to be determined at press time. The CSJ will accept donations both online and at its office.

In addition, the email listed resources on campus, such as the Office of Campus Ministry and Counseling and Psychiatric Services, for members of the Georgetown community who may have family and friends affected by the earthquake.

The Office of Campus Ministry also hosted an interfaith prayer service in Dahlgren Quadrangle on Tuesday in honor of the victims of the earthquake.

The student-run initiative, “Georgetown Stands with Nepal,” is part of a larger national effort entitled “Students Stand with Nepal,” with chapters in other universities such as Tufts University and the University of Maryland. The initiative will be directing donations to the Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund, an earthquake recovery and relief fund that seeks to provide immediate resources including food and shelter for survivors and will then transition to long-term redevelopment efforts run by local organizations. At press time, the Georgetown chapter has raised $186 in donations.

Students have been promoting the initiative by tabling at Lauinger Library the past few days, in addition to raising awareness on social media.

Kajol Shrestha (NHS ’17), a student from Nepal and the founder of the initiative’s Georgetown chapter, said that she hopes the campaign will educate students about the long-term effects of the earthquake and motivate them to support fundraising efforts.

“This earthquake [has] not only caused thousands of deaths, it also caused tremendous damage to the economy, the culture and the history of Nepal,” Shrestha said. “I hope that this campaign will mobilize students on campus to support the earthquake relief efforts in Nepal [and make sure] that the needs and the stories of the people of Nepal are always kept relevant and don’t escape the headlines.”

Shrestha said that while not many students have responded to the campaign so far, she is impressed by the amount of support the Georgetown community has shown to the earthquake relief efforts.

“The response so far has been slow,” Shrestha said. “This was expected because it is finals time and many students are probably too stressed out. However, I have met some amazing students through this campaign on campus who are dedicated, even through finals, to this cause.”

According to Shrestha, the initiative aims to support local relief efforts instead of political leaders and foreign aid operations.

“The situation in Nepal now is that while foreign aid has come in to help, most people that were rescued were rescued in the first few hours after the main earthquake by Nepali people,” Shrestha said. “The Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund [will] directly send money to locally-driven grassroots organizations and groups in Nepal that are run by Nepali people. We know these groups will be around for the long haul and will be invested in long-term recovery.”

Shrestha hopes that through the initiative, survivors of the earthquake will be able to recover from the effects of the earthquake and focus on the country’s long-term redevelopment.

“It is important that the people of Nepal feel empowered and know that they can not only recover but rebuild for the better,” Shrestha said. “While immediate response is important, we must also focus on long-term relief and that’s why students should donate to [the initiative].”

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