The Society of Nepalese Students in Korea is holding a fund-raising drive to help their compatriots recover from the earthquake that hit their home country on Saturday.
More than 5,000 people are reported to have died in the magnitude-7.8 quake, with thousands more hurt and an estimated 8 million Nepalese in need of help.
SONSIK president Bimal Subedi said that the group, which has members at 65 universities across Korea, had raised $7,000 so far, through general appeals that included a candlelight vigil in Myeong-dong, Seoul.
Subedi said SONSIK had considered using the embassy’s bank donations, but decided to use the money to buy goods in Nepal that would be given directly to local charities to ensure the help got to where it was needed as quickly as possible. He said that most Nepalese students who had graduated in Korea and returned to Nepal were volunteering locally, so they had good connections with aid organizations there.
“We are not giving (aid groups) the money directly,” he said. “We send the money from here and our representatives buy the stuff over there like tents, biscuits, beaten rice and ramen and we hand them the goods over there.”
The first tranche of funds was sent Tuesday, Subedi said.
“We handed over around $1,500 to the local group that is acting in Gorkha, that’s the epicenter of the earthquake,” he said. “So this (Wednesday) morning we donated 50 tents and biscuits and ramen.
“We don’t have casualties but most of our friends from places like Gorkha, Sindhupalchowk and Kavre, most of their houses are destroyed. We have 20 to 30 members whose houses are destroyed,” he said.
Subedi said that one student called him, conflicted about whether or not to go home.
“He said he didn’t have any casualties at home but his house was six stories and was completely demolished, and he just wanted to go over there and stay with his family,” he said. But as the trip would cost time and money in mid-semester, the student decided not to go.
He said that communicating from home was also difficult.
“In some cities we have the Internet and the phones are working well, but in the rest, phones don’t work,” he said. “If you make 100 calls, only two or three connect. And it doesn’t last long, only one or two minutes.”
But he pointed out that NGOs have been establishing Internet links, so communication was getting easier.
Details of the fund-raiser can be found under the recent news section of sonsik.org.np.
The Nepalese government has also set up a relief account in Korea to accept donations to pay for blankets, food, water, tents and medical supplies.
“The devastating earthquake that has hit the entire nation has left untold pain and misery to the Nepalese people, with the loss of thousands of lives and infrastructure including historical monuments, temples and U.N. heritage sites,” the Nepalese Embassy said in a press release.
“The devastation it has brought to the nation requires support and cooperation from all supporters and well-wishers in handling the post-earthquake relief and rescue operation.”
The bank account number is KEB 611-025933-979.
By Paul Kerry (firstname.lastname@example.org)