Dartmouth Community Members Voice Concern for Nepal

Many members of the Dartmouth community have been affected by the April 25 earthquake in Nepal—from students concerned about family members in Kathmandu, to researchers whose field sites on Mount Everest may have been damaged, to the mother of a Dartmouth trustee who chairs the board of directors for a nonprofit promoting educational and cultural links between the people of Nepal and the U.S.

A Nepalese woman tries to find her belongings in the earthquake debris in Bhaktapur near Kathmandu, Nepal.

A Nepalese woman tries to find her belongings in the earthquake debris in Bhaktapur near Kathmandu, Nepal. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)

Here’s a sampling of the news received by Dartmouth Now:

News of the earthquake reached Kripa Dongol ’16, of Kathmandu, in Prague, Czech Republic, where she is participating in a foreign study program sponsored by the geography department. “I am working with a group of friends to coordinate news that might better help local organizations. We are trying to help get and share information through Facebook—which thankfully is working even though phone lines sometimes aren’t. Family and friends felt an aftershock as recent as five hours ago [Monday].

Dartmouth Pitches In With Nepal Disaster Relief Efforts

More than 100 people from Dartmouth and the Upper Valley community gathered at the College on April 28 to discuss the urgent mission of getting aid to Nepal. Read the full story.

“I have been told that there are a lot of positives—community support and solidarity—but there are also pockets of disturbances as shortages of food and water supplies have created small fights. My information is largely limited to the capital, Kathmandu, where my friends and family are, but there are other districts—Dhading, Lamjhun, Tanahun Gorkha—that have gotten far less media attention, and rescue efforts have been delayed because of bad weather and earthquake-induced landslides,” writes Dongol.

This past winter, Alexandra Leigh Giese, a graduate student in Dartmouth’s IGERT Polar Environmental Change program, conducted research in Nepal. She writes, “My research is in geophysics—the melt and energy balance of glaciers—and I imagine that the quake has affected many of the instruments we’ve deployed. One of my external advisers was actually on his way back from installing some temperature measurements for my project when the earthquake occurred; our field site is quite close to Everest, and he witnessed avalanches. I doubt anyone has been back to check on the instruments since.”

Giese goes on to say that “the villages in the Khumbu valley have also been severely affected, which I imagine will affect access to the glaciers in the Khumbu region for researchers. The other valley where glacier research is particularly active is the Langtang valley, which has experienced significant landslides that have swept away villages. It’s been heartbreaking to see the images of destruction in a country with such a rich history, beautiful landscape, peaceful culture, and some of the kindest and most generous people I’ve had the privilege of meeting.”

Pratap Luitel, a graduate student at Thayer School of Engineering, is from Kathmandu. She says she “was able to get in touch with my family almost four to five hours after the first big quake and every five to six hours after that. Thankfully, they are all safe.

“The area of deepest need immediately is to ensure that injured people get treatment in time,” she writes. “Most of the health infrastructure is located within the capital Kathmandu, but the quake has severely hit more than 10 districts outside the capital. It is of utmost importance to reach the villages in rural areas in Gorkha, Sindhupalchowk, Kavre, and other districts. It is going to be a challenge to reach those places in time, due to difficult terrain. Even before the quake, Nepal has been mired in problems, ranging from lack of basic infrastructure to incompetence of the political parties to draft a constitution in almost six years. The quake’s devastation pushes everything back. Not sure how we are going to get up from this and how long it is going to take.”

Mary Carroll, mother of Trustee Sherri Oberg ’82, Tuck ’86, chairs the board of directors of The Nepal Foundation. Carroll reports that the foundation’s project manager is in Kathmandu and has found that people in the area in which the project works—a remote part of the country—are safe and mostly unharmed.

Another Thayer graduate student from Kathmandu, Aditya Mahara, has been working to mobilize Dartmouth students to help with the relief efforts. He wrote, “No casualties in immediate family. Since Saturday afternoon, it’s been a constant cycle of tremors and terrors. Rain is not helping with rescue/relief. They have no electricity or power and my family’s water supply is running low. We here in the U.S. had so much more information than they did (because TV was out and electricity was gone), so I ended up updating them on some of the things that were going on around them. Post-Haiti earthquakes, diseases such as cholera turned out to be very devastating. Controlling these kinds of diseases and post-disaster repercussions will be very, very important. There will be a need for massive rebuilding process in addition to immediate relief process needed in Nepal. Dartmouth can be part of the rebuild in whatever capacity possible.”

‪Future member of the Class of 2019 Kripa Shrestha posted this comment on Dartmouth’s Facebook page: “‪I’m an incoming freshman at Dartmouth from Nepal and I’d like to express my gratitude for Dartmouth’s involvement with relief efforts in Nepal. I have created a Facebook page, Nepal Earthquake 2015, to filter the information floating around on the Internet and post important verified updates on humanitarian aid, and rescue and relief efforts since the earthquake. Please let me know if I can be of any help at all.”

Also keeping people updated is Freddie Wilkinson ’02, a mountain guide and writer based in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. He’s writing about climbers and guides who are on Mount Everest for National Geographic.

“Unconfirmed reports filtering out describe the upper portion of Base Camp as a ‘war zone,’ while the lower portion of Base Camp survived relatively unscathed,” Wilkinson writes.