In response to the 7.9 magnitude earthquake that hit Nepal on Saturday, April 25, killing 7,000 people and injuring more than twice that number, several University students came together to host a series of fundraisers in support of international relief foundations.
“People have been incredibly generous, and we’re extremely extremely happy with the result we’ve had so far,” said Sadichchha Adhikari ’16, who is from Nepal. “Because [the earthquake] has been so publicized, people have been really generous.”
Each of the involved students has a personal tie to Nepal, whether they are natives or spent time studying abroad in the country.
“It’s really hard and isolating to be so far away and to feel like they’re these people that I really care about and there’s so little I can do in this crisis,” said Janika Oza ’15, who studied abroad in Nepal last year. “I found a lot of support and solidarity in doing this kind of action.”
Fundraisers during the week included a bake sale, a henna fundraiser, Thai iced tea sales at the VIBES Music Festival, and a late-night food event.
The bake sale took place in Usdan all week during lunch and dinner at a small booth decorated with a Nepal flag. Expectations for the fundraiser were humble, but students met the cause with overwhelming support.
“We didn’t really set a goal for ourselves,” Adhikari said. “We don’t really feel comfortable asking for a specific amount of money.”
Though all of the events were donation-based, with a suggested donation of $4, many supporters exceeded the fundraisers’ expectations.
“People would donate $20 and not get anything, or $20 and take a piece of [a] cookie,” said Michelle Lee ’16. “And then a lot of people were like, ‘I’m glad you guys are doing this,’ because they didn’t know where to donate money to, so they’re happy that we’re here doing this. People have been very, very supportive.”
Ari Lewenstein ’16, who studied abroad in Nepal last semester, discussed his experience tabling for the various fundraisers.
“It’s been overwhelming,” Lewenstein said. “People just come up and everyone is genuinely concerned. It’s really heartening to be on this campus and have people care as much as they do.”
Oza spoke about the group’s continued efforts throughout the week following the bake sale, including the Late Night event held Sunday night in Exley. The food was donated by Tandoor Indian Restaurant, and boasted a variety of Indian dishes including chicken tikka masala, naan, and rice.
“The owner is Nepali and a lot of the workers are Nepali, so he wanted to donate a lot of food,” Oza said. “We offered him money but he just really wanted to donate, and he actually came and helped us set up today. We’re really grateful for him.”
Adhikari spoke about her and her peers’ motivations to work together during this time of disaster.
“I think what draws us to do something is the gravity of the situation,” Adhikari said. “[Over] 6,000 people died in one week and we definitely recognized that something needed to be done. We have so many resources at Wesleyan and so many ways, such as Facebook, to reach out to people.”
The students are currently still deciding which organizations to which they will donate their proceeds, but they hope to focus their efforts on Nepali-based foundations, which, compared to American organizations, waste less money on transportation of supplies and relief workers. They plan to distribute the funds across two or three organizations, each with particular focuses, such as village reconstruction and affected-child support.
“It breaks my heart to see all these people of my culture [struggling with the aftermath of the earthquake],” Sisam Acharya ’16 said. “It’s already a poor country and all of its historical sites got destroyed. It’s my duty, of all of this. It’s the least I could do, and I did everything that was in my power.”