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University members help with earthquake relief in Nepal

BOONE—A faculty member and graduate student from Appalachian State University in partnership with the Boone-based, non-profit agency Wine To Water are helping provide clean water to earthquake victims in Nepal.

View larger imageResidents of Katmandu have been trained to install and operate water filters provided by fundraising efforts conducted by Appalachian State University and the non-profit agency Wine To Water. (Photo by Suresh Niraula)View larger imageAppalachian State University student Suresh Niraula, left, trains a Nepalese volunteer to use a water filtration system. So far, 1,000 water filtration systems have been sent to Nepal through funds raised by university organizations and the local non-profit agency Wine To Water. (Photo submitted)View larger imageThis residence in Katmandu, Nepal, was destroyed during the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that occurred in late April. (Photo by Suresh Niraula)View larger imageMore evidence of the destruction following the earthquakes and aftershocks in Katmandu. (Photo by Suresh Niraula)

The Nepalese nationals, Dr. Dinesh Paudel from The Goodnight Family Sustainable Development Department, and Suresh Niraula, a graduate student in appropriate technology, have helped other relief workers assess the situation in Nepal and determine where to best facilitate projects to provide clean water to those in desperate need.

They arrived in Nepal in early May. Within the first 48 hours of operating there, Niraula reported water filters had been installed in one of the hardest hit areas, Dharmapur, and also in Chunikhel, Kathmandu. Twenty of the 30 homes in Dharmapur were destroyed and the rest are uninhabitable. “The community filters we hooked up will serve 75 local people in Dharmapur and 85 people in Chunikhel,” Niraula said. “We also installed filters that will serve more than 700 students in two community schools.”

The filters were purchased with funds raised through activities sponsored by Appalachian’s Office of International Education and Development (OIED), in collaboration with The Goodnight Family Sustainable Development Department, Center for Appalachian Studies, Office of Appalachian and Community Together (ACT), Department of Sustainable Development, and the Department of Technology and Environmental Design, and fundraising activities of Wine To Water.

So far, 1,000 of the water filtration systems have been sent to Nepal. The systems have the capacity to last up to 10 years and provide water to more than 15,000 people. Community assessments, training and assistance are being provided by a Wine to Water office established in Kathmandu by Paudel and Niraula who have assembled a team of more than 40 volunteers to provide relief and support in meeting the clean water needs of the Nepalese community.

Currently, survivors of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that occurred April have little refuge from continued aftershocks and need immediate food, water and shelter. Upon arrival in Kathmandu, Niraula noted that local streams are the primary sources of water and the water that people are drinking is extremely harmful. As a result, waterborne diseases are growing rapidly.

On Tuesday, Nepal was hit by another 7.3 earthquake in eastern side of the country on the border with China leaving more than 70 people dead and scores of others injured and homeless.

After arriving in Nepal, Paudel reported, “Our immediate family members are safe, but they lost all of their property, houses and everything they had. They are living outside without food and shelter. “The community where we all lived has been reduced to zero. Several people that we know died. The school that I built several years ago is rubble. It is unbelievable and unbearable what has happened in our country.”

Paudel will return to campus in late May. Niraula plans to stay in Nepal through the summer.

To support relief and redevelopment operations in Nepal, visit http://act.appstate.edu/nepal.

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