Vigil honors Nepalese earthquake victims

two women light candles

Two students gather together to light each other’s candles while crouching around a
handmade mural of the country of Nepal. 
The candles were then used as a border of light around the mural.
The Lion's Roar / Elizabeth Brown

The Nepalese Student Association, with help from Multicultural and International Affairs, held a candlelight vigil for the nearly 8,000 fallen victims of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that devastated Nepal.

On April 28, an earthquake hit Nepal proved the worst disaster the nation has faced in over 80 years. Many areas are in ruins and millions of people need help.

“More than 7,000 lost their lives and we wanted to remember those people,” said Binit Sharma Poudel, president of NSAS and Nepalese native. 

Held Thursday, May 7, Nepalese native and member of NSAS Nibha Manandhar began the vigil with an introduction to the event and a showing of a video about the earthquake’s effects on the people, including over 9,000 people injured, heritage sites destroyed and nine million adult and children in need. 

“The point of this video is not to make the event sadder but to share a story,” said Manandhar. 

Following the video, Dr. Marvin Yates, vice president of student affairs, told the students from Nepal who were among the crowd that we as a university and as a community are here to provide for the students and to support them in any way possible. 

Suraj Ayer, Student Government Association chief of staff and Nepalese native, spoke to the members of the community, faculty, staff and his fellow students, offering many thanks for the support of Hammond and the Southeastern community in this time of tragedy. 

“This has not broken any of the students because we have a family here at Southeastern,” said Ayer. 

After Ayer’s various acknowledgements, candles were passed to the crowd, being lit one by one, followed by a moment of silence for the victims of the earthquake. Post-it notes were also available for the attendants if they wanted to write down their thoughts. The vigil was concluded with another thank you made by Manandhar and a playing of the national anthem of Nepal. 

Following the event, Jerry Cottrell, lab coordinator for the department of chemistry and physics, offered his thoughts about the vigil. 

“I feel it’s excellent for the Nepalese students here at Southeastern for the healing process and it helps them realize that they have a family here and that they have community support,” said Cottrell. 

Ayer was proud to see how many people came to support him and his follow students at this event.

“It felt nice seeing a lot of people come up. It shows how much support the students have from other students, along with faculty,” said Ayer. 

Nearly $5,000 has already been collected and donations will continue to be collected through Ayer’s gofundme page which will collect donations until the page’s set goal is reached.