Former Hiwassee students express frustration for surviving relatives in Nepal

Former Hiwassee students express frustration for surviving relatives in Nepal


UPDATE (May 12, 2015) -- The BBC reports that a major earthquake has struck eastern Nepal, near Mount Everest, two weeks after more than 8,000 people died in a devastating quake. Please help the people of Nepal through UMCOR.


ALCOA, Tenn. (May 6, 2015) -- Two former Hiwassee College students from Nepal echo the concerns that thousands of survivors have not received desperately needed aid, more than a week after a deadly earthquake struck their home country.

“I talked to my grandfather today. He is 95 years old. The aftershocks are still happening in Lamjung. They have had no help,” said Satkar Dhakal, age 24, of Santa Barbara, Calif.

“My relatives are living in the open fields because their houses are all cracked up,” said Dawa Lama, age 24, of Queens, N.Y. “They don’t want to go back to their houses because there are still aftershocks. They don’t have water. They have no access to food.”

Dhakal and Lama attended Hiwassee College in 2008-2009, later leaving east Tennessee to join family in other parts of the U.S. or to seek an accredited college.

Hiwassee, located in Madisonville, Tenn., is affiliated with Holston Conference and has long had a high ratio of international students.

The information from Dhakal and Lama is similar to that of United Methodist missionaries, who recently reported that accessing rural villages remains a significant challenge.

As the earthquake’s death toll climbs past 8,000, the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and other faith-based partners in the ACT Alliance are continuing to respond. Some 8 million people are affected and 3.5 million are in need of food assistance, according to United Methodist News Service.

A native of Butwal, Nepal, Dhakal said his many of his relatives live in Lamjung District, the epicenter of the April 25 earthquake. Most of the major damage and casualties took place in nearby Kathmandu, Nepal's capital, yet Lamjung was severely damaged.

Dhakal said his family members survived, but his aunt’s home collapsed and many of their livestock were killed.

His mother and grandfather have been unable to locate a tent as temporary shelter, joining others who have not received aid from relief organizations reportedly in the area, Dhakal said.

“The people are crying for help,” he said.

Lama said that her brothers, sisters, and other relatives live in Boudha, Jorpati, inside Kathmandu but 40 minutes from the main city. Her relatives also have not received relief.

“A lot of aid is coming from other countries, but I don’t understand why they are not receiving help,” Lama said. “There are no rescue teams or nothing … If you have no money, you will starve to death."

In Queens, the Nepali community where Lama currently lives is selling T-shirts and manicures to raise money to send to friends and relatives in their home country, she said.

“Honestly, people have been very supportive,” she said. “They will walk up and give you $20 and say they are praying for you.”

Dhakal said he is grateful for the efforts of UMCOR and other relief agencies who are attempting to reach survivors in his homeland. “Thank you for helping the people of Nepal,” he said.

Dhakal will graduate this year with a two-year degree in criminal justice from Santa Barbara City College. Lama is graduating this spring with a four-year degree in hospitality from New York City College of Technology.

HOW TO HELP

Donations to support the response to the earthquake in Nepal and other international disasters can be made online through UMCOR Advance # 982450. Checks also can be made out to your local United Methodist church. Write UMCOR Advance #982450 on the memo line and put in the offering plate.

UMCOR health kits meet the practical needs of communities affected by disaster. As UMCOR works to assess needs in Nepal, donations help replenish UMCOR’s health kit inventory.

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