Nepalese Student Aims to Help Her Homeland

On April 25, 2015 a 7.9-magnitude earthquake devastated Nepal, killing more than 8,000 people, with more than 19,000 wounded. For Einstein M.D.-Ph.D. student Pratistha Koirala, the catastrophic event was deeply personal. Although she and her immediate family now live in the United States, Ms. Koirala was born in Nepal and the majority of her family still lives there.  

She recalled, "As I kept track of the earthquake in the news, I spent one of the most stressful weekends of my life as my parents and I desperately tried to contact our family in Nepal. Because the power grid was down and the phone lines were dead, it took us hours to reach them."

While Ms. Koirala eventually learned that her immediate family is safe, she still felt a sense of tremendous loss as she watched the death toll rise. "In the course of a week, the count went from 2,000 to 4,000 and continued until it passed 8,000 as the Nepalese government and international aid workers gradually reached the mountain villages affected by road closures and landslides."

More than 120 aftershocks have led many survivors to set up makeshift camps, too afraid to stay inside.  "Those in the capital, the cities, and especially those in these remote villages need water, food, medical supplies and tents for shelter," said Ms. Koirala, who has teamed with several classmates and Einstein's Global Health Center to organize a Nepal Relief Effort at Einstein.

"Many of these people have nothing, they are wounded, and they are dying as they await supplies and the help that they still desperately need," she added. "And Nepal's leadership needs help with conducting searches for those still missing and with rebuilding homes."

A series of events are planned at Einstein to raise funds for the relief effort. The first, a photo auction exhibit along Einstein's "Main Street" kicked off on May 13, 2015. Sponsored by the Einstein Global Health Center, the exhibit features photos taken by Einstein students and faculty during their global travels, along with artwork and photos by members of the Einstein community provided by Ad Libitum, the College of Medicine's art and literary club. The exhibit will be on display through June 5 and includes silent auction sheets next to each work of art and photo.

"Every dollar we can contribute will make a tremendous difference for the earthquake victims—including one million children who are urgently in need of help," said Jill Raufman, program manager of the Global Health Center. "Less than five dollars can provide a child with food and clothes, and any donation will help save lives in Nepal."

Upcoming events include a cultural event featuring Nepalese food during the first week of June.  Please be sure to check the campus monitors and the Social Calendar on Einstein's website for details about additional activities.

Editor's Note:  Those who wish to support to Einstein's Nepal Relief Effort can place bids on the photos and art on exhibit through Friday, June 5, 2015. Winning bidders will be notified by Tuesday, June 9, and payment can be in cash or by a check made payable to "Albert Einstein College of Medicine" with "Nepal Earthquake Aid" noted in the memo section.

Those unable to make it to the auction exhibit but who wish to contribute may send or drop off a check at the Global Health Office. (Please note "Attention Jill Raufman" on your envelope, Block Building, Room 508.) Those making a cash donation will be issued a handwritten receipt. All donations are tax deductible.

Temples of Durbar Square in Bhaktapur, Nepal, before the devastating earthquake that struck on April 25, 2015
Temples of Durbar Square in Bhaktapur, Nepal, before the devastating earthquake that struck on April 25, 2015
The 7.9 earthquake and 120 aftershocks led to widespread destruction throughout Nepal, killing more than 8,000
The 7.9 earthquake and 120 aftershocks led to widespread destruction throughout Nepal, killing more than 8,000
Nepali native Pratistha Koirala (front left), works with fellow medical and graduate students to prepare the photo auction exhibit that is helping to raise funds for Einstein’s Nepal Relief Effort
Nepali native Pratistha Koirala (front left), works with fellow medical and graduate students to prepare the photo auction exhibit that is helping to raise funds for Einstein’s Nepal Relief Effort
 

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