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COLUMBUS, Miss. – After news of the catastrophic earthquake that hit the capital of Nepal, Mississippi University for Women’s own Dipa Bhattarai returned to her home country for 26 days to be with loved ones and help with relief efforts.

It was Bhattarai’s first visit back home in nearly two years, after starting at The W in the fall of 2013. Like many of the Nepalese students at The W, she is from the capital city of Kathmandu, which was devastated by a 7.8 earthquake, affecting an estimated 8 million people in April.

After hearing the news of the devastation, Bhattarai desired to be closer to her family and friends during the aftermath of the tragedy.

“I went there to see my family and friends because I wanted to be with them at this tough time. It was just hard for me to stay (in the United States), be worried and believe whatever the media was bringing up. I wanted to see the real situation without any exaggeration from the media and social networks,” said Bhattarai.

When Bhattarai landed in Kathmandu, she was overcome with feelings of excitement to reconnect with loved ones.

“The intense pleasure of seeing your friends and family waiting desperately for your arrival at the airport can’t be explained in words. We all were so happy, tears rolled down our faces.”

While she initially went back to see family in friends, she also participated in the relief efforts to help citizens in need.

Weeks prior to her visit, the Nepalese Student Association held a donation drive, placing boxes in every building on the campus of The W for students and faculty to donate items for victims of the earthquake.

Bhattarai gave the donations to Dorm Nepal, a small organization working on the ground level to provide relief materials for victims. They delivered the goods to the local health clinics in the district of Sindhupalchowk, which is another area in Nepal that was badly affected.

She volunteered with the organization, helping to rebuild schools and homes that had been destroyed, as well as helping to send relief materials and working with children.

One of Dorm Nepal’s missions is to help children by organizing recreational activities as a way to help children cope with any trauma that may have stemmed from the earthquake.

Bhattarai played a big role in organizing and overseeing some of the activities during her visit.

She is optimistic about the future of Katmandu and Nepal.

“Nepal is surely going through a dark phase, but there comes a bright day after the dark night. Nepal will rise again, maybe not immediately but it definitely will. This disaster can actually be a milestone for the great days ahead.

“Our government and citizens are working collaboratively in building a new Nepal. This disaster surely destroyed houses and buildings; however, on the other hand, it also united all of Nepal,” Bhattarai added.

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