MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A community of Nepalese students at West Virginia University are preoccupied with worries of home as they are supposed to be preparing for spring’s final exams.
“It’s really tough concentrating on my studies when the bad things are going back home when I’m not sure how my parents are, how my brothers are, my friends are, my countrymen are doing,” shared Bishal Aryal, a WVU student from about 90 miles south of Kathmandu, Nepal. “It’s been very tough. I need to take it as life goes on I guess.”
Aryal is one of 23 WVU students from the country riddled by 7.8-magnitude earthquake on Saturday.
Aftershocks continued to crumble infrastructure in Nepal hours after the first quake.
It’s incomprehensible said Aryal during an interview on MetroNews Talkline with Shauna Johnson. “We are used to tough times, but this has been so brutal and besides being so disastrous that this beats it all. This is absolutely a tragedy.”
Aryal had been able to reach his family to learn they have all survived.
By Tuesday, an estimated 5,000 have died in the rubble. The death toll could reach as many as 10,000 people as recovery teams from neighboring countries continue to search for the missing.
In Morgantown, more than 7,500 miles from the destruction, Nepalese natives are encouraging prayer for their family and friends and asking for donations to aid homeless, ill and injured earthquake victims.
Dharendra Thapa, a PhD candidate in the WVU Department of Exercise Physiology says international groups are offering aid as quickly as possible.
“The sense of helplessness is hurting us. But, what we are trying to do as a community back here is to provide as much support as we can,” explained Thapa.
Thapa was home in Kathmandu just four days prior to the killer earthquakes and aftershocks. His wife, one-year-old daughter and many other family members remain in the hardest hit area.
UNICEF, the World Food Program, the America Nepal Medical Foundation and the Red Cross are agencies Nepalese students hope their classmates and West Virginian’s will work through in sending aid to the more than 8,000,000 people the U.N. estimates will be affected by the quakes.
Meanwhile, the international students in Morgantown fear worse information will come as recovery efforts are underway.
“When the rescue efforts get to remote villages, I think we will hear more about the calamities and tragedies that have occurred in Nepal right now,” added Thapa.
The New York Times has compiled a list of potential agencies and foundations offering aid.