They stood together in solidarity, praying and giving respect to the thousands of Nepalese killed in a devastating earthquake.
Their faces were somber, their eyes teary, their voices silent. UF and Santa Fe College students and faculty, Gainesville residents, and friends and family all stood together on UF’s Turlington Plaza Monday night during a vigil hosted by the Nepalese Student Association.
“There is this deep sadness in us,” said Sailesh Acharya, the vigil’s MC and a second-year UF family, youth and community sciences graduate student. “As a Nepali, I can feel the sadness within me, especially the fact that I’m away from my hometown, away from my own country and I feel helpless."
More than 7,000 people died and at least 14,000 were injured after a deadly 7.8 earthquake shook the small country of Nepal on April 25, destroying thousands of homes, buildings and ancient temples. Millions have been affected and left without shelter, food, water and other basic necessities.
And even though they were thousands of miles away, the earthquake affected those who stood on Turlington. Some lost friends and family. Others lost their hometowns. In Nepal, many lost everything.
“I speak the voice of all the Nepalese here,” Acharya said. “I speak on behalf of the Nepalese that we share the feeling of sadness, the feeling of emotion because of this huge, massive earthquake.”
As weeks go on, Nepalese authorities expect the death toll to rise. And while millions of dollars worth of aid has been sent to the country, it will take years to rebuild and return to everyday life.
“Sad to say, in the coming days, it’s going to get worse,” Nepalese Student Association adviser Brijesh Thapa said. “Rebuilding is a gigantic task. It will take time.”
But, he adds, there is still hope.
“Nepal is damaged but not broken,” Thapa said. He believes that with the ongoing international support and help, “our new Nepal will emerge from the rubble.”
Others on Turlington brought together by tragedy shared that optimism.
In one minute, millions of lives were forever changed. For one minute, they stood in silence to honor those lives.
Vigil participants hold signs over a candle letters reading "Nepal."