After a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake and a death toll climbing above 4,000 in Nepal, the University of Wisconsin’s Nepal Student Association is looking at ways to support earthquake victims and pray for the deceased.

Surendra Prajapati, the NSA president, said the earthquake was an unprecedented event in the country.

“We haven’t had any big, tragic events happen but we’ve also helped in a lot of fundraising activities in the past for other organizations that are helping in Nepal,” Prajapati said. “This is the worst one we have seen, not only in my generation but my dad’s and my grandpa’s.”

Saturday was a day of shock, with members of the student organization trying to contact family members in Nepal, Prajapati said. Fortunately, all member’s immediate families were fine but some lost extended family, neighbors or experienced property damage, he said. 

NSA members met Sunday to discuss options to help Nepal. 

“We had over two hours of meeting where we all decided we were going to take a tangible step towards helping fundraise for our country Nepal,” Prajapati said. 

The student association is a small organization of 20 to 25 students, post-doctorates and UW scientists, Prajapati said. Their goal is to have cultural awareness about Nepal and recognize the diversity of Nepali students at UW, he said.

NSA holds events where students are welcome to talk about Nepal’s resources and culture, Prajapati said. They also hold cultural celebrations and help incoming Nepali students acclimate to Madison, he said.

The student association is supporting Sarvodaya USA, a Madison-based non-profit organization founded by UW alumni, in their fundraising efforts, Prajapati said. They have tried to reach as many students as possible through UW student organizations, the International Student Office and their own individual department, he said.  

The group’s second goal is to spread awareness by email, Prajapati said. This project is still ongoing as UW’s Center for Leadership and Involvement is still working out the logistics, he said. 

The email will inform students on how to donate through cash, check or online and give information about upcoming events, Archana Shrestha, a member of the student organization, said.

At this moment, Nepal needs the expertise and technical support from people who know how to handle emergencies well, she said. 

The Madison community has always been supportive in the past when disasters around the world, such as earthquakes in China, Haiti and Pakistan, have happened, Prajapati said. 

“I’ve been here for six years and I’ve seen that the Madison community has always responded to tragic events like this around the world,” Prajapati said. “The Madison community has always been very supportive to help in those areas that are affected. I also hope and believe that the Madison community will also support Nepal [and] help them with donations and resources to rebuild our country down the road.”

The Nepal Student Association will host a candlelight vigil in partnership with the Nepali American Friendship Association on Wednesday at the Capitol.