Nepal Earthquake Strikes Close To Home

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OSWEGO – The death toll is rising in Katmandu, Nepal after after one of the worst earthquakes in history. While the clean up and rescue efforts are taking place half-way around the world, some SUNY Oswego students are feeling the devastation a little closer to home.

Students briskly walk past the small corner table in the Marano Campus Center. Graduate student Pranay Chapagin thinks about his hometown.

“These are the places I used to be around all the time, and they’re not there now,” he said. “So it’s pretty disturbing.”

Chapagin is a Katmandu native who is watching the destruction of the town he calls home from afar, on television news.

“All of my family is from there,” he said. “I’m an international student. I just came from Nepal last year.”

Chapagin is surprisingly not the only student with a personal connection to the disaster. Tenzin Lama was raised in Nepal, and still has family there. She got a call from her sister in New York City on Saturday after the quake hit.

“First thing I asked her was is my grandmother okay,” she said. “She said, oh, she’s outside her house, there’s minor damage to the house.”

Lama’s grandmother is one of thousands of people stranded outside of their unstable homes. Director of Student Involvement Michael Paestella and his team felt a need to act, but were unsure of the success.

“With what I do with student organization and student groups started to think, ‘what can we do,'” he said. “But admittedly thought ‘we’re so close to the end of the semester.'”

Paestella sent out an email on LakerLife, the university’s involvement site. Within 24 hours, several volunteers had singed up, two of which were from Nepal, including Chapagin. Paestella went out to thank them the first afternoon of tabling.

“It was interesting because I sensed that they were thanking me more than I was thinking them.”

Pranay is doing all that he can to raise funds and awareness for the place he and Tenzin call home.[su_youtube url=”” width=”1280″ height=”720″][/su_youtube]

“We want to get as much help as we can,” he said. “It’s not just thw buildings that have fallen apart. People have been displaced, and they don’t have their homes.”

The volunteers say that say that anything folks can give as they walk through the Campus Center can help. They will be tabling every weekday from 10am to 3pm until Thursday, May 7th.