Students, faculty and staff at Saginaw Valley State University have organized efforts to support the people of Nepal in the wake of the April 25 earthquake that has devastated the Asian nation.
An SVSU team that includes a student raised in Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu, plans to travel to Nepal this week to help disaster victims. The group will provide primary care services and deliver medical supplies to Kathmandu and surrounding villages. They will depart Saturday, May 9 and return Monday, May 18.
SVSU alumna and graduate student Smriti Pant will return to her hometown as part of the group. Members of Pant's family and friends still live in Kathmandu.
“This whole thing carries a lot of sentimentality for me,” said Pant, who lived in Kathmandu until she was 19 and last visited in 2011. “I know that place very well, and I just can't imagine what I will see when I get there.”
Pant said her 92-year-old grandmother was rescued from a home in Kathmandu by a caretaker, and her uncle escaped his apartment before the earthquake destroyed it. Her family and friends have described a community devastated by the earthquake.
“Kathmandu is like the New York of Nepal. To go back and see this massive damage and destruction, it will take me back to a time when things were normal.”
Pant said she is grateful she will be able to use her skills in nursing to help those in need. A registered nurse at Covenant HealthCare, she earned a bachelor's degree in nursing from SVSU in 2011. She is on track to graduate from SVSU's doctor of nursing practice program in 2016.
“From a professional side, I am glad I will be able to bring my knowledge to help the people affected by this,” she said.
She won't be the only student on the trip. Jarrod Eaton, the incoming president of Student Association (SVSU's student government), plans to join the group. Eaton is a health science major from St. Johns.
The relief team also will include Judy Ruland, dean of SVSU's College of Health and Human Services, Dustin Spencer, assistant professor of nursing, and Rene Hernandez, assistant professor of health sciences.
“My colleagues and I are honored to be helping out in the earthquake relief effort,” said Hernandez, who visited Kathmandu in December 2014.
“My experience there was filled with warm and welcoming encounters from everyone I met. I am anxious to return to assist them in anyway I can. I would personally like to thank SVSU, and particularly SVSU President Don Bachand for making this relief effort possible.”
While the relief team prepares to depart, 26 Nepalese students have arrived or are in transit to SVSU to begin classes at the start of the spring term next Monday, May 11.
In addition, the SVSU community has raised more than $4,000 as of Wednesday, May 6 for the American Red Cross to support the relief effort. Online donations can be made at www.crowdrise.com/svsunepalrelief.
SVSU has a history of enrolling students from Nepal, and several groups of SVSU students and faculty have taken study abroad trips to the country in recent years.
Thousands died and thousands more were injured during the magnitude-7.8 earthquake that struck April 25. The United Nations estimates the disaster affected 8.1 million people in Nepal.