The Catholic University of America

May 3, 2015

Students Mobilize to Help Efforts in Nepal

  Graduate students from Nepal mobilized in the Pryz to collect money for relief efforts. From left: Niraj Pant, Bishnu Dahal, Bijya Nepal, Rajendra Dulal.


> You can help. Go to CUA Cares.

Since a massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal on Saturday, April 25, news of the destruction and loss of life has been shocking. For a group of Nepalese graduate students, the news has been personal and painful.

Rajendra Dulal, a doctoral student in the Department of Physics, says it was 10 long hours before he heard that his family had survived the quake. Their home was severely damaged, but none of them were there at the time.

Niraj Pant says his brother woke him at 2 a.m. after he got a text about the earthquake. “We were lucky, we were able get a phone call right through to our family. They were okay, but our home was damaged,” says the physics Ph.D. student.

Sameer Shar, a doctoral student in biology, has immediate concerns. “We are worried about aftershocks and the chaos taking place. And all of the issues for the survivors. Where will they live, do they have access to clean water and food?”

Shar, Dulal, and Pant, sit at a table in the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center just days after the earthquake, sharing concerns for their country. All are from Kathmandu, but they met for the first time at CUA.

In an effort to do something to help the people in their country, they are part of a group of seven Nepalese students who quickly mobilized through Indus Valley Association (IVA), a new student organization at CUA.

By Monday, the group had a table set up in the Pryz, where they began accepting donations for the Red Cross efforts and talking with other students about the destruction in their homeland.

“Nepal is a third world country. This disaster sets us back even further,” says Dulal.

“Buildings that are UNESCO World Heritage sites in the Kathmandu Valley, beautiful centuries-old temples, have been destroyed,” says Dulal. “It’s hard to see that.”

“It’s difficult to be so far from home at this time. Right now collecting money is something we can do,” says Pant, who is vice president of IVA.

IVA takes its name from the Indus Valley Civilization that once flourished in South Asia along the banks of the River Indus. Their mission is to bring together students from varied cultural backgrounds at CUA “in a way that makes them feel at home.” Through IVA, students with ties to Nepal have found a support network amid increasingly difficult news. Just days after the earthquake the death toll topped 6,000, with thousands more missing, and many more thousands injured.

On Thursday night in St. Vincent’s Chapel, a Mass organized by Campus Ministry was offered for the people of Nepal.

"The Nepalese students at CUA were deeply touched by the gathering at the Mass as Nepal struggles with the aftermath of the earthquake. Without a doubt the Mass provided solidarity and God's blessing on the recovery and rescue efforts for Nepal and comfort to those who have lost their loved ones and homes," said Pant.

IVA finished its Red Cross collection effort at the Pryz last Friday with more than $1,500 in donations. A collection effort will continue through CUA Cares, an initiative of the Office of Campus Ministry that has mobilized after such tragedies as Hurricane Katrina, the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, the earthquake in Haiti, the typhoon in the Philippines, and the shooting at Virginia Tech. For more information, visit



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