- Associated Press - Sunday, May 10, 2015

WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) - When Deviyani L. Dixit thinks of her homeland of Nepal, she thinks of the centuries-old temples that drew tourists from around the world.

Ms. Dixit, 24, who recently completed a master’s program at Clark University and lives in Worcester, said she fears everything special about her home country has been lost, or at least changed forever.

Paslang, Nepal, was the epicenter of the recent earthquake that killed more than 5,000 people, left tens of thousands homeless and destroyed ancient temples, according to the Associated Press.

Ms. Dixit, a graduate of the master’s program in international development and social change, emigrated from Nepal six years ago and is now a U.S. citizen. She is thankful her relatives and their house are safe. She said the same can’t be said for those living in less sturdy structures, whose homes were toppled in the quake that rocked the region. She’s heard of entire villages totaled in the chaos.

“We’ve just had a series of bad luck,” she said. “We were in a 10-year civil war. . We were finally thinking, I feel, like we were on the path to recovery, just a little bit and then this happens. I think it’s going to push as back 20 years, at least.”



Ms. Dixit is working with several members of the Nepali community who attend Clark to host a candlelight vigil to raise funds for rebuilding the country Thursday night. It will be held on the main campus quad known as Red Square, off Main Street, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

She said she has connected with some 40 other Nepali students all grappling with the natural disaster. Though she hasn’t heard of any locals’ family members being killed or injured in the event, she said she knows of at least two students whose homes were destroyed.

Prakash Pariyar, 28, a master’s student in the same program Ms. Dixit graduated from and who is set to graduate this May, said his family in Nepal lost their entire house in the earthquake. His family lives in a rural town outside the capital Kathmandu known as Gorkha, about 2 miles from Paslang. He was on the phone with relatives Wednesday morning trying to learn more details about what happened there.

“They’re safe,” he said. “I want to go home right now but . (my friends and professors) said I could do more from Worcester. That’s why we’re doing as much as possible to raise money.”

Mr. Pariyar said he heard of a nearby village where some 1,200 homes were reduced to just four standing these last few days. His parents are sleeping outside in tents with their neighbors for fear the remaining buildings could continue to collapse.

Jude Fernando, associate professor of Clark’s international development and social change program, said he believes Nepal has a “long road” ahead before it can rebuild. He said his students with Nepali ties are concerned and working hard to raise money to assist with the future recovery efforts.

“They want to work hard and to help,” he said. “They are thinking long-term.”

Ms. Dixit is asking for donations as well as help from those with GIS mapping skills. She said volunteers and workers trying to access villages are being forced to work around bad roads to provide assistance. She said her peers are accessing www.openstreetmap.org from Worcester and beyond to help them find alternative routes.

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Information from: Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, Mass.), https://www.telegram.com

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