Upper Valley helps in earthquake relief

by Lauren Gee | 4/27/01 5:00am

Although it was three months ago today that an earthquake ravaged Gujarat, India, killing 25,000 and leaving countless others without resources, Dartmouth students and the local community have not forgotten the horrors of this tragedy.

The January 26th disaster, India's most powerful earthquake in over half a century, left vast destruction in which communities continue to struggle for survival. Attuned to the lingering nature of this catastrophe, the Upper Valley has collaborated efforts to provide assistance to Indian earthquake victims.

India Queen restaurant owner Bhavnesh Kaushik, believing "that people in the area wanted to help, they just didn't know how to help," initiated the first of several events recently held to provide support for suffering residents of India.

Rallying the involvement of an extensive array of community and campus organizations, Kaushik launched an enthusiastic effort to gather food, clothing, and over-the-counter medications for earthquake victims.

According to Kaushik, Students Fighting Hunger and the LISTEN Center promoted campus participation in the relief efforts, while local shopping establishments donated boxes for packing, and Campion's Women's Shop owner and Trumbull-Nelson Construction company provided storage trailers for the gathered supplies.

In addition, he said that Mt. Lebanon School and Lyme Elementary School hosted clothing drives, and the Lebanon Rotary Club generated $5,000 in funds that were sent to India.

Radio stations, including college station 99 Rock, WTSL, and Q106, contributed by publicizing the ongoing activities throughout the month of February.

Kaushik also said that, after more than a month of collecting, 157 filled boxes were sent to India and a cash donation made to the Prime Minister Relief Fund.

Meanwhile, on campus, an ambitious group of students working through the Milan South Asian Students organization engaged in related efforts by hosting a dinner in Collis Commonground on April 13.

According to participant Meghana Reddy, motivations to aid earthquake victims were strong due to personal ties.

"A lot of us are from India or have family in India. After the earthquake, we had all seen what kind of devastation there was and we felt we should give here, in Dartmouth."

After an entire afternoon of cooking, all completed by students themselves, Milan served dinner to over 250 people. They raised $950 after costs, which was then sent to the Philanthropic Relief Altruistic Service and Development (PRASAD) Project. With a focus unique from that of the surrounding community, proceeds from the dinner were designated for reconstructing and rebuilding causes.

Currently, history professor Douglas Haynes is pursuing the preparation of a relief effort to be held among the College's professors.

"We are hoping that a similar effort will be launched among the faculty," Haynes said.

College groups continue to work in conjunction with the immediate community to provide assistance to those in India still living amidst the rubble and disillusion wreaked by the earthquake three months ago. Kaushik said, "People come out to show them they care and give them their well-wishes."

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