Wed 13 May 2015

Helping WITT's Nepalese Students

Nepalese hospitality students Gaurab Sharma and Sohel Wagle have been finding it difficult to cope with the recent earthquakes in their home country when they are so far away.

Fortunately WITT's support services have been right behind them, with International Student Liaison officer Robyn Harvey to the fore.

"When they first came to see me they admitted they felt lost and didn't know what to do,'' she said. Robyn's help was forthcoming in several ways.

"I know Jess Burrows, the Red Cross service centre coordinator  in New Plymouth, so I  rang her and she said they were keen to help.

For four days the two students were posted at Centre City collecting on behalf of the Red Cross. During that time they raised more than $2000 for the victims of the massive quakes in Nepal.

"That way they felt they'd done something, which made them feel a bit better,'' said Robyn. "They also met two other Nepalese families who live here and now they're supporting each other.''

WITT staff also pitched in to help the cause and a Bake Sale on campus raised $239 one lunchtime.

The students are studying for the Diploma in Professional Cookery at WITT and are here for at least 18 months, usually longer, says Robyn.

Naturally the two were shattered on hearing the news about the deadly 7.8 earthquake that killed more than 5000 people.

 Contacting their families and friends was difficult, but just as they were being reassured that all were safe, they received more grim news when the second earthquake struck a week later.

"They struggled with that to be honest,'' said Robyn.

"That really had an effect on the two. They've talked about wanting to go home, but their families have made it very clear they are to stay here where at least they are safe.

"I'm a mother too and I understand what their mothers are saying. You just want your children to be safe, but when something like this happens it's a reminder of just how far away they are from home.

Red Cross is appealing for cash donations.

"Donations to New Zealand Red Cross allows us, where possible, to buy the relief items required in the affected area," said Jess.

Text Help to 4741 to make a $3 donation. Alternatively, both ANZ and ASB bank, and Kathmandu are collecting money for the cause.