A GROUP of Nepalese students have been fundraising at the Quadrant Shopping Centre to help victims of the massive earthquakes that have devastated their homeland.
The students, all enrolled at Swansea University, watched news reports in horror as the scale of the natural disaster, that has so far claimed the lives of 8,800, unfolded.
With friends and family back home in Nepal, many felt helpless as the crisis worsened so the group asked the Quadrant Shopping Centre if they could help and the Centre responded by installing a collection box and the people of Swansea have been digging deep.
Organiser Manju Gurung said: “I was at home asleep in bed when I first heard about the earthquake. My husband phoned me from Nepal to tell me about it and he sent me some photos.
“I was still quite sleepy but as soon as I saw the pictures I was wide awake and I knew it was serious.
“The wall to our compound in Kathmandu had fallen down but our apartment was okay and I was lucky as I knew straight away my husband was safe.”
What followed for Manju was a day of terrifying phone calls trying to locate her mother, brother and sister-in-law who were all in the capital and at the epi-centre of the earthquake.
She said: “I was calling and calling but I couldn’t reach them as the phones weren’t working. My husband was trying to find them too, it was horrible.
“Eventually that evening I spoke to them and knew they were safe and they still had their homes but it was a terrible experience and one I never want to have to go through again.”
Despite the agony of not knowing how her family were, Manju, a registered nurse studying public health at Swansea, knows she is one of the lucky ones.
She said: “At first they had to sleep outside as there were so many aftershocks and everyone was worried about buildings collapsing. We sent my mother back to our home town of Pokhara as it was not affected and it would be less traumatic for her.
“One of my cousin’s friends lost his life when he was travelling to Kathmandu and I have a friend whose home was completely destroyed so they have been living in their car, four of them including two children, for more than a fortnight.
“It is a very scary time and there are still other friends I have not been able to contact yet.”
Ian Kirkpatrick, Manager of the Quadrant Shopping Centre, said: “This has been a devastating natural tragedy for this tiny country which has such close ties with the UK.
“When they asked us for help we were delighted to set up our big collection box up and the people of Swansea are being typically generous in helping Manju and her friends raise much-needed funds here at the Quadrant.”
Manju first came to Britain in September last year to start her one-year course and hopes to return to Kathmandu, and her family, this summer.
Gathering fellow Nepalese students together, Manju felt she had to do something to help in Nepal, especially once she knew her own immediate family was safe.
“I actually didn’t know how many there were of us here, but once we started looking we have found 13 Nepalis and we are lucky as all our families are okay, but we felt so helpless here in the UK,” she said.
“We started doing some online fundraising and then held a bake sale at the university. Then we got in touch with the Quadrant Shopping Centre and they have been great in supporting us.
“We have already sent £1,300 back to Nepal to help. It might not be much but it will make a difference and we’re focussing on the outlying villages where there is little aid so far.
“We just want to do whatever we can to help.”
Even if you haven’t been to the Quadrant Shopping Centre you can still make a donation to Manju and her friends at https://fundly.com/nepal-earthquake-compassion-fund-wales