MU students family struggling to survive in Nepal

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COLUMBIA - Students gathered Friday night to offer prayers and donations to the Missouri University Nepalise Student Association (MUNSA) after a 8.7 magnitude earthquake rocked Nepal, killing thousands. 

President of MUNSA Saroj Dhital was here in Columbia when the earthquake hit, but tells a terrifying story about his mother, who was traveling when disaster struck.

"Basically she figured out that she was the only one in the hotel at the time, because my dad and nephew were down at the lake," Dhital said. "And she just made it out of the building just before it collapsed."

After, his family meet up at the river, and then tried to make their way to a safer town. Along the way, Dhital said landslides were close to sweeping his family under ruble, and local police pushed his mother into a river in order to keep her out of the path. 

That river washed Dhital's mother, who can't swim, a good distance down stream, until another policeman was able to lift her from the flooding.

"One of my mom's friends tried to give her shoes off of a dead body, because she lost her shoes in the water," Dhital said. "My mom wouldn't take them."

Dhital is very grateful that so far, none of his relatives have been hurt.

But the fight is just getting started.

"My family, my aunt and uncles, they are living outside right now,they need food, they need water, they need sanitation items," Dhital said. "If I had been traveling with them, there's a chance I wouldn't be alive today." 

MUNSA member Manu Bhandari organized the candlelight vigil, and said that hes seen a lot of bad things in the news, but hasn't seen much about the bright side of things.

"There are two things that we have to be very grateful about. The first is that the earthquake actually occurred at a better time, it didn't occur at night when people would have been less prepared," Bhandari said. "Secondly, according to some of us, if the earthquake had occurred during the weekdays, a lot of children would have been at schools, and if those schools crumpled, a lot of those children would have died."

"There are a lot of people trying to help other people. In this time of immense sorrow, there are some uplifting acts of generosity."

Bhandari said he organized the vigil in order to send a message.

"It's about, you know, as a MU family we are trying to send a message of love and a message that we are also kind of with them in this time of sorrow."

In the future, Dhital said that he would continue to collect funding to send to Nepal to help the recovery process, and hopes to reach out to the City of Columbia as well as the University.

He said that one dollar would convert to 100 rubles, which could by four loafs of bread, and that every donation meant very much to him and his organization.