Nepali Students Association holds vigil for victims of earthquake

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Students, faculty and members of the community gathered at the candlelight vigil organized by the Nepali Students Association on Wednesday night.
Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

The Nepali Students Association held a vigil Wednesday night at Gregory Plaza to express solidarity with those suffering in Nepal after the recent earthquake. 

Students gathered to remember the thousands who died Saturday in the devastating earthquake that hit Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital, and surrounding regions.

The program began with the Nepali national anthem, and numerous candles lit up the steps leading into Gregory Gymnasium. Professors and students shared personal stories of their experiences during the earthquake, including engineering senior Santona Pandey, who was in Nepal at the time.

“It still feels like a nightmare,” Pandey said. “I rushed down from the fourth floor to save myself, but I realized that I could never make it. I stayed back, clinging to the door frame.”

Pandey said, as she reflects on the earthquake’s damage, what hurts the most is the constant reminder of her survival while countless others died beneath the debris of towns that no longer exist.

“I’m saved, my family is saved, but I’m not happy because thousands of people are still dying,” Pandey said.

Snehal Shingavi, an English assistant professor who was involved in aiding the Haiti earthquake victims in 2010, said Nepal can either rise from this tragedy by fixing economic problems that increased the gravity of the damage or fall into a trap leaders seeking to exploit the situation set.

“This has the potential of becoming an even worse disaster if the social conditions in Nepal allow this sort of suffering to continue,” Shingavi said. “The process of this becoming something hopeful depends on people caring about what happens in Nepal for at least another year.”

Niranjan Kc, biology junior and president of Nepali Students Association, said he has faith that current relief efforts will have a lasting positive effect on the people of Nepal.

“Even though this disaster is happening, we are staying united; we’re doing what we can,” Kc said. “We will rise out of this. This will bring a social change in Nepal. I hope that it’s for the good.”

Heather Hindman, an Asian studies and anthropology associate professor who has done extensive research on Nepal, said the earthquake can be a defining moment for the small, yet resilient nation.

“I’ve seen neighbors come together and say, ‘Hey, we need a car to drive out to Sankhu to see if we can rescue anybody,’” Hindman said. “The entire country of Nepal is mobilized right now. … It’s the youth that will turn this phenomenon into a tragedy — but not a disaster.”