When disaster strikes a faraway place, many immediately look for some way to help. Some may donate to a service organization committed to helping, while others may try to raise public awareness.
Two Newman students decided to take their efforts to the next level.
When the 7.8 magnitude earthquake and powerful aftershocks hit Nepal, Newman University senior and member of the Multicultural Leadership Organization Suwash Gautam, who has family members living in Nepal, knew he wanted to do more than donate money. That’s when his wife Pamela, also a Newman student and the former president of her high school’s multicultural club, had an idea.
“[The earthquake] happened right in the center, where [my husband’s] family is, in Katmandu,” Suwash Gautam recounted of Pamela’s response to the quake. “So I thought, ‘Instead of asking for money, why don’t we do something more meaningful?’” Her next thought was, “‘Well, let’s go to Hobby Lobby!’”
She soon had the idea to create handcrafted bracelets representing the distinct cultures of Nepal and Newman University. The bracelets, which feature elephants, crosses, hearts, and flowers, represent the culture of Nepal while showing the passion the Newman community has for service.
Realizing the need in Nepal was great, Suwash Gautam reached out to the Newman community for assistance in gathering donations for the bracelets, as well as in the creation of the bracelets. One Newman student who donated her time to help craft the bracelets considered it an opportunity to “learn more about the disaster, and do something real to help.”
Gautam heard from his immediate family hours after the disaster, and was relieved to learn they were safe and accounted for.
“My parents and my siblings are all in Nepal,” he said. “When I heard the news on Sunday morning, I tried to call them, and I didn’t get ahold of them until 2 p.m. I was a little terrified.”
Unfortunately, his family has not been completely untouched by the tragedy:
“I received news saying one of my relatives, a cousin, passed away. That’s the first,” Gautam said.
Gautam and the other volunteers plan to make at least 400 bracelets, and have already scheduled three opportunities for members of the Newman community to show their support by making a donation in exchange for a bracelet. Donations can be made in the Mabee Dining Center during Breakfast & Bingo on May 10, the Dugan-Gorges Library Atrium during Chair Massages on May 13, and the Jabara Flexible Theater inside the De Mattias Fine Arts Center during the Sloppy Joes improv show on May 13. More opportunities are still being planned.
The suggested donation is $4, and all proceeds will go to the Salvation Army, which is already actively helping victims of the earthquake in Nepal.