Hundreds of people gathered for a candlelight vigil at the State Capitol mall Wednesday to show their support for Nepal following an earthquake that's killed more than 5,500 people.
"It's very heartbreaking and especially being here you feel very helpless because you just want to help so many people," Apeckchya Karki, president of the Association of Nepalis in Minnesota, which organized the vigil, told MPR News. "When you hear all these families and community stories your heart is so heavy."
Minnesota is home to about 3,000 Nepalis, Krishna Pathak, vice president of the Association of Nepalis in Minnesota, told the Pioneer Press.
At the vigil, tea light candles were lit in the shape of Nepal, people wore t-shirts and held signs expressing and encouraging support for those affected, MPR notes.
About 500 people attended Tuesday's vigil, many of whom have lost loved ones or are still waiting to hear if family members are OK, the news station says.
In addition to Wednesday's candlelight vigil, the Association of Nepalis in Minnesota has planned a "Shanti Path/Puja" for 7 p.m. Thursday at the Hindu Temple in Maple Grove, according to a Facebook event, where they will pray for the people who have been affected.
The Hindu Temple is also fundraising for victims.
Fundraising efforts continue
Students at colleges across the state are organizing fundraisers to raise money for the 8 million people affected by the April 25 earthquake.
"It's been really frustrating being here, while my parents are there," Jashmin Nakarmi, a sophomore at St. Cloud State University, told the St. Could Times. "They're on the ground. They have a food scarcity, a water scarcity. They don't have a place to go."
Student groups at SCSU – Helping Nepal International and Nepalese Student Association – have been collecting donations for victims, a news release says, and have planned a candlelight vigil for Friday night.
On Wednesday, the groups hosted an art show and silent auction, the St. Cloud Times says, where paintings, drawings and photographs – mostly by Nepali students – drew bids as high as $350.
Student fasts to raise awareness
Sourab Bhatta, a 25-year-old Winona State University student, began camping in the campus courtyard Wednesday to raise awareness for earthquake victims, the Winona Daily News reports. He plans to stay in the courtyard until 6 p.m. Thursday – fasting he entire time.
“It is so hard, it is so hard,” Bhatta told the newspaper. “I’ve had a hard time just trying to focus — just being helpless in a way.”
Survivors of the earthquake, including Bhatta's friends and family, are forced to sleep outside because buildings are too unsafe to be inside, NBC News says. Many survivors also lack food and water.
Bhatta will lead a vigil at 6 p.m. Thursday in the WSU gazebo, the Winona Daily News reports. He's also collecting donations.
Restaurant donating proceeds
“There are still thousands of people missing and many thousands injured,” the restaurant said in a statement to WCCO. “Millions more are now without water, food, electricity and shelter and fuel. The Nepali people need our help.”