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Helping Nepal

[Nepal Earthquake]
Local Nepalese community members recently held a vigil in downtown Kingston to help raise awareness and support following the earthquake in their homeland. (Supplied Photo)

In the early hours of Sunday, April 25, Prabeen Joshi answered the call that so many Nepalese living abroad received.

At 3:40 a.m. his sister, who lives in Australia, called to inform him that a devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake had struck Nepal. The good news was that his parents, who still live in Nepal, were safe and unharmed.

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At the time, little information was known but it didn’t take long for the Nepalese community in Kingston – approximately 50 people with about 15 attending Queen’s as students or as post-doctoral fellows – to be alerted to the situation.

“I tried to contact my parent myself but I couldn’t. They were away from home at one of my cousins’ engagement party,” he says. “The party was over and then the earthquake happened. But they were together. That was a big relief that such a big devastation happened and still my parents were fine.”

Unable to go back to sleep, Mr. Joshi, a PhD student in civil engineering, spent the rest of the night finding out what he could about his homeland. It left him reeling. The death toll has already surpassed 7,000 and is expected to top 10,000.

Overall, Mr. Joshi has only heard of one local member who has suffered a loss. However, the disaster has taken a heavy toll as the community can only look on from halfway around the world.

Looking to do anything to help, the community decided to launch a campaign to raise funds and awareness of the disaster. They held a vigil in downtown Kingston where they raised $960 in donations.

The have also set up a crowd-funding site to raise more funds.

“That is the best thing we could do as there’s no option for going back and helping immediately,” he explains. “So the best thing to do was to come together as a community and start collecting whatever we can.”

The campaign wraps up Saturday but donations can still be made at their webpage.

The window for opportunity is small. Already, he points out, Nepal has dropped off the front pages but the massive relief effort continues and the rebuilding of the country will take years.

Still, he has hope that the country and its people will recover. For example, the disaster has pulled the Nepalese diaspora together to help the recovery effort.

“When you are unified only good things happen,” Mr. Joshi says.