Sunday, May 27 , 2018, 5:17 pm | Fair 65º


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In Aftermath of Deadly Nepal Earthquake, Benefits for Victims and Rebuilding Take on a Local Cast

It took eight hours for UC Santa Barbara doctoral student Dhilung Kirat to hear that family living in his native Nepal were alive and well after last month’s massive earthquake.

His parents and three siblings live in a remote village in the South Asia country, which was devastated when the 7.8-magnitude quake struck April 25, killing more than 8,000 people. Thousands more are missing or lost their homes and possessions.

“It was really terrifying because everyone was trying to connect,” said Kirat, a 31-year-old who is studying computer science at UCSB. “We were lucky and fortunate that they were all fine.

“I really wanted to do something. I thought here in Santa Barbara, especially at UCSB, I wanted to also raise some awareness.”

Kirat got in touch with the university and its three other students from Nepal, and last week they launched a fundraising website.

So far, more than $3,000 has been donated to the Shikshya Foundation, a Nepal nonprofit organizations the students chose because it provided immediate assistance to earthquake victims along with long-term support.

Any amount helps, Kirat said, noting that one U.S. dollar buys five meals in Nepal.

Kirat is part of another fundraising effort at Santa Barbara’s Handlebar Coffee, which has an exhibit of Himalayan photographs taken by locals, some of whom are Nepalis like Kirat. Proceeds from the prints priced between $50 and $150 will go to Goleta-based Direct Relief International, which is already aiding efforts.

Local Vanessa Craig, who competed on the Food Network’s All-Star Academy, is planning a benefit dinner for earthquake victims as well.

She and the Food Network’s Chef Pink will prepare a traditional Nepalese meal for guests of the May 29 benefit at Santa Barbara Orchid Ranch. The ranch, at Dos Pueblos Canyon west of Goleta, has donated the space for the dinner, a live and silent auction, wine raffle, live entertainment and more. Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.

The benefit is specifically raising money for the Manakamana Foundation, which Craig said is made up of stateside Nepali engineers, doctors and business people who have formed an operation to ensure where funds are going.

Kirat said he’s still calling his family in Nepal every day and is proud his siblings are helping to rescue some from under the rubble.

He hopes locals can mirror that generosity to help his homeland. Click here to make an online donation.

“Usually people tend to forget after a while, this kind of disaster,” Kirat said. “We hope that this particular effort will help support long-term recovery. There’s a long way to go for Nepal rebuilding.”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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