More than 200 students gathered at the University Union clock tower Monday evening to support the 8.1 million people in Nepal who were impacted by the April 25 earthquake.
At the candlelight vigil, Hillel at Binghamton’s Rabbi Akiva Weiss and Binghamton University professor Tara Dhakal addressed the crowd, and a moment of silence followed.
According to student organizer Zainul Lughmani, a member of Sigma Beta Rho and a sophomore majoring in economics, the goal was to join the community together while bringing attention to the natural disaster.
“Just because this didn’t occur in our local community doesn’t mean anything,” Lughmani said. “One day we’re going to need help, so by reaching out now we’re creating a connection. Our organization really believes that we’re nothing without our community.”
Dhakal, a Nepal native and professor of electrical and computer engineering, stressed the importance of reflecting on the events that occurred and helping those hurt by donating money.
“We are busy in our daily lives, so this event makes us think about the people who are suffering,” he said. “It helps to reflect and realize that we’re all interconnected and need to help one another. Once people are aware, they do what they can to help.”
Students from the Alpha Delta Phi Society created a Himalayan prayer flag, a tradition in the region to honor the dead, which was hung across the Spine to remember the lives lost in the earthquake.
According to Weiss, the Nepalese government is struggling to provide for the 400,000 displaced people.
“The government in Nepal is doing the best they can,” Weiss said. “So far they’ve only supplied 29,000 tents. That’s only twice the number of students we have at Binghamton. Hospitals are overflowing, and water is becoming scarce. The people of Nepal are in desperate need.”
Sigma Beta Rho collected money at the event, as well as at Spring Fling. They have raised just over $800 for the effort, nearly doubling their goal of $420. According to Lughmani, $420 will provide a year’s worth of supplies for a struggling village in Nepal.
Melissa Levin, a senior majoring in mathematics, said that events like these show students that no matter how far away Nepal is, coming together can make an impact.
“It can be really isolating because the event happened so far away,” Levin said. “Even though it feels like one person can’t make a difference, when people come together they can really make something meaningful.”
The vigil attracted a diverse group of students from a wide variety of organizations, including the Alpha Delta Phi Society, Kappa Phi Lambda, MALIK, Lambda Phi Epsilon, Sigma Omicron Pi, Delta Epsilon Psi, Indian International Student Union, Asian Student Union, Philippine American League, Peace Action, Hillel at Binghamton, Taiwanese American Student Coalition and the Hindu Student Council.
“The true diversity on Binghamton’s campus was evident today,” Lughmani said. “No matter what groups students came from they came together for a peace offering for Nepal. I can’t express enough gratitude to everyone who came out. This just exemplified the generosity of Binghamton University students.”