NYUAD Community Responds to Earthquake in Nepal

A deadly 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Nepal last Saturday on 25 April, the worst the country has suffered in more than 80 years. Multiple ...

A deadly 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Nepal last Saturday on 25 April, the worst the country has suffered in more than 80 years. Multiple aftershocks followed the initial earthquake, some of which registered as high as 6.7-magnitude. As of now, more than 6000 people have been confirmed dead and an estimated 14,000 are injured. Nepali Prime Minister Sushil Koirala has expressed fears that these figures are just the beginning, and that the death toll could rise to 10,000 in the coming days, as more remote areas are accessed by rescue and relief efforts.
The devastating effects of the earthquake were strongly felt in the NYU Abu Dhabi community, where eight students and more than 50 staff members are from Nepal.
“All of the students who are currently in Abu Dhabi [have confirmed that their] families are safe,” said Nepali freshman Ugyen Lama. “There has been damage to our houses, but the main thing is that our families are safe. Some staff have lost their houses and have family members who are injured.”
Raj Kumar Karki, a security guard from Nepal, described the effects of the earthquake in his home village.
“A few people died in my village [and] 70 percent of the houses were destroyed,” Karki said.  “One of my houses collapsed too, but luckily none of my family members were inside.”
The NYUAD community has strong ties to Nepal, and an estimated 200 students have been to the country on class trips over the past few years. Many others have studied abroad in Nepal, interned there over the summers or simply visited as tourists during school breaks.
A well-attended candlelight vigil was held on Monday evening to show solidarity for those affected by the earthquake. Students, faculty and staff penned notes of condolences and prayers to hang on a billboard, and contributions were collected to buy phone cards for Nepali staff members so that they could call families back home.
“The vigil was a really nice event because it brought the Nepali community together and there was relief in sharing the same sorrow,” said Karki. “It is hard being here and realizing you cannot do much. You are here to support your family, but you cannot be there when they need you the most.”
In addition to the vigil, a donation drive has been organized by Nepali students and the Office of Community Outreach to collect non-perishable goods to send to Nepal.  Several large donation boxes have been placed in the Convenience Store and students have been encouraged to use their Campus Dirhams to contribute food items such as granola bars, noodles, dried fruit and cereals. The first batch of donations was delivered to the Nepal Embassy in Abu Dhabi to be airlifted to Nepal on Saturday.
International aid has flooded into Nepal throughout the past week, but tensions are rising within the country over the government's lack of preparedness in dealing with the crisis. Lack of medical supplies, clean water and access to toilets is leading to an outbreak of disease in the aftermath of the earthquake and protests broke out over the weekend at the delay in rescue operations.
“It's, simply put, devastating,” said Assistant Professor of Practice of Political Science Jeff Jensen, who regularly teaches Nepal as a case study in his various political science classes and has taken students on half a dozen class trips to Kathmandu over the past few years.
“One of the amazing things about Nepal that is evident almost immediately is that the numerous communities of Nepal are incredibly strong,” Jensen added. “But, the community is so strong in part because the dysfunction and paralysis of the political system results in an incredibly inept state in which people are forced to rely on community in place of the government. And, while the ability to rely on one's community is comforting, the incapacity of Nepal's government in this time of great need will cause, I fear, great suffering.”
Additional reporting by Karma Gurung. Karma Gurung is deputy news editor and Clare Hennig is features editor. Email them at
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