Hamline News

Hamline Alum Reports from Nepal After Earthquake

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Hamline alumnus Amrit Sharma ’09 flew into Kathmandu, Nepal the day after a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit the area in April 2015. The quake killed 9,000 people, injured more than 23,000, and destroyed entire villages leaving hundreds of thousands of people homeless. Sharma wasn't sure what to expect when he arrived in the city where he grew up, and he didn’t want to make any assumptions about how he could help.

"In the short term, everybody did the right thing, like delivering temporary shelters, food, and water to the most critically affected areas. The entire world had turned its attention to Nepal,” Sharma said.

Sharma credits his experience at Hamline for helping him think critically in the challenging situations he faced, and make the best decisions about what role he should play in the recovery. With national and international officials responding to the immediate needs of the survivors, Sharma realized that the best use of his time was to document what was happening and share those stories with the outside world. On his first day in Nepal he sent photos to The Huffington Post to use for free, and instead, they offered him a blog to write his own articles.

"A lot of journalists came into Nepal for a few days and wrote stories about death and destruction, rubble and the death count. Then they left,” Sharma said. “I don’t feel that did justice to what is happening in Nepal."

Journalism wasn’t the intended career path for Sharma who majored in computer science at Hamline and worked as a software engineer in the Twin Cities following graduation. However, last year he decided he wanted a change so he laid the groundwork to travel the world for a year. After visiting Mauritius, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh, he was in India getting to know the place he was born when the earthquake struck Nepal.

Sharma, who speaks Nepali fluently, walked around Kathmandu and started writing stories and posting photos on Twitter and his blog. His articles have also been published in websites like The Huffington Post, ScoopWhoop, Pendulum In Action, and also Nepal’s leading newspapers eKantipur and MyRepublica.

“The monsoon season is starting now, and a lot of people are still living under plastic tarps,” Sharma said. “Even though we are fine right now - in the next three months I can foresee bigger challenges, like lack of accessibility to villages, landslides, and water-borne diseases.”

Sharma wants people to know Nepal is still in need of help. He understands there is a lot happening in the world and why the news is not covering Nepal anymore, but says there is still a long road to recovery. He also wants people to know Nepal will soon be safe to travel to.

"If you want to make travel plans for the fall, please keep Nepal in mind," he said.

After traveling to a few more countries this year, Sharma plans to return to Minnesota and go to grad school for marketing. Even though he considers himself a global citizen, he calls Nepal and Minnesota his homes.

You can hear more about Sharma’s experiences and see his photos from Nepal in the video interview below.