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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

ODU Students Raising Funds for Earthquake-ravaged Nepal

Old Dominion nursing student James Kirlin's thoughts went straight to his friends Perina and Ujwal Neupane after Nepal was rocked recently by two powerful earthquakes.

The tragedy struck closer when Kirlin learned Ujwal Neupane, who holds a bachelor's in finance and master's in economics from Old Dominion, lost more than a dozen friends and family members in his native village of Kalyanpur, Nuwakot, near the reeling capital of Kathmandu.

It is in the Neupanes' name that Kirlin, 31, who is active-duty Navy, began his first online fund-raising campaign on gofundme.com - with all donations earmarked for Kalyanpur, Nuwakot.

"It kind of seemed like it would be nice to help that very specific village," said Kirlin, whose effort is more than halfway to its $5,000 goal.

Whatever the amount, money cannot be sent and applied quickly enough in Nepal, Ujwal Neupane said.

"We cannot wait, the people need the help now," he said, noting the pending arrival of monsoon season. "Little places like ours are not getting attention."

Through Facebook, Ujwal and his wife of 13 years Perina - like Kirlin, a sailor also attending ODU on a nursing scholarship - are monitoring recovery efforts in Nepal.

They do so with heavy hearts, though they have been in the United States for 12 years.

"You don't believe it, you can't believe it," Ujwal Neupane said. "We have two children, and I see the other children suffer, the infants that died buried with their mothers. We have tears in our eyes every day."

The Neupanes, who are both 34, asked friends in less affected areas of Nepal to purchase food and distribute it in Kalyanpur, Nuwakot, with the promise of reimbursement from their own pocket or through local donations.

They were immediately able to provide 30 pounds of rice and two pounds of lentils to about 400 families. But Ujwal Neupane knows so much more is needed, especially for pregnant women or nursing mothers.

"Nutritionally they need more than rice and lentils," he said. "We are trying to get extra supplies to them as soon as possible."

A fund-raising event they are planning in Virginia Beach at the Holiday Inn on Greenwich Rd. on June 5 will go toward relief in Nepal. The group Asian Indians of Hampton Roads has paired with the Hampton Roads Nepalese Community for a night of food and music. Tickets are $35 for adults. Ujwal Neupane hopes for a turnout of 600 or more people.

Kirlin said he will keep his gofundme account open two more weeks and then turn over every dollar to the Neupanes to put toward Kalyanpur, Nuwakot as they see fit.

Perina Neupane, who is on schedule to earn her nursing degree next year, said she is grateful for the effort of her shipmate Kirlin, but she laments the entirety of her homeland's lost heritage.

"The squares where the old palaces and monuments were, that's what we wanted to show our kids when they were a little older," she said. "Now everything is destroyed. The house where their father grew up is not even there anymore. When they rebuild, it will not be the same. There is no history to show them."

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