St. Olaf College | News

NBC affiliate talks to St. Olaf students from Nepal

St. Olaf students (from left) Bishwas Sharma ’16, Stuti Thapa Magar ’15, Pika Pokharel ’18, and Yazmin Moktan ’18 talk to NBC affiliate KTTC-TV about the earthquake that hit their home country of Nepal.

St. Olaf College student Bishwas Sharma ’16 tells KTTC-TV that the two hours between when he first learned about the earthquake that devastated his home country of Nepal and when he was able to reach his family was “one of the scariest times in my life.”

The powerful 7.8-magnitude quake claimed the lives of more than 8,000 people and left thousands more injured.

Sharma and three other St. Olaf students from Nepal — Stuti Thapa Magar ’15, Pika Pokharel ’18, and Yazmin Moktan ’18 — tell the Rochester NBC affiliate that witnessing the devastation from afar has been difficult.

Nepal is the home country of seven current St. Olaf students, and together they organized a candlelight vigil held in Boe Chapel April 29 to remember the victims and discuss ways to “come together as a community to provide aid to this country of rubble that we call home,” as Moktan noted in a letter she sent to the campus community.

The students emphasize that while aid is starting to pour into Nepal’s largest cities, like Kathmandu, help is still not getting to many rural areas.

That’s a point that St. Olaf alumnus Subhash Ghimire ’10, the editor of the daily Nepalese newspaper Republica, reiterated in an interview with National Public Radio. Ghimire is from a village in the mountainous district of Gorkha, which is near the earthquake’s epicenter, where he said not a single house is left standing.

He says the devastation from the earthquake, combined with the lingering effects of a decade-long civil war, have left the country facing a massive rebuilding task.

“We were still trying to get out of the conflict and rebuild some of the structures destroyed in the wartime,” Ghimire tells NPR. “And now you add all the destruction from the earthquake, and it has taken us back at least a decade.”

Yet Moktan tells KTTC that her family members in Nepal are already expressing hope for the future. “My dad, who is in Nepal, said people are so stressed but he said we’re shaken, but not broken.”