A shocked world is reaching out to aid the small Himalayan republic of Nepal devastated Friday by a 7.8 earthquake. Because of the extent of the destruction and the difficulties faced by the rescuers, the death total is still incomplete but stands in excess of 4,600. Landslides and avalanches on Mount Everest, Nepal’s most famous land mark, killed a number of climbers and Sherpas, the native mountain guides. Many more remain stranded on the mountain. The media has brought us the heart rending scenes of the devastation and rescue efforts both on the mountain and in Kathmandu, the Nepalese capital.
Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has aid workers on the ground in the disaster zone and reports that the extent of damage in surrounding villages is not yet known because of loss of communication. It is anticipated that the needs will be significant with millions affected. CRS has begun procuring emergency relief materials such as tarpaulin shelter kits, water, and sanitation and hygiene materials, but additional help is urgently needed.
That is why the Catholic bishops of the United States have called for a special national collection in our churches throughout the country to assist in the humanitarian efforts in Nepal. I have asked our pastors in the Diocese of Dallas to take up this special collection as soon as possible. I pray that all parishioners will help our diocese contribute this essential aid to the people of Nepal during this time of extreme need.
Of Nepal’s 30 million people, more than 80 percent are Hindu, with small numbers of Buddhists and Muslims and only a 1.4 percent Christian population. But, as I have pointed out before, we do not help people because they are Catholic, we help them because we are Catholic.
This tragedy will soon fade from the headlines, but the need for funds to help rebuild lives is long term. Please be generous with your prayers and your treasure.
Image credit: People carry the body of a victim on a stretcher after an earthquake hit Kathmandu, Nepal, April 25. More than 3,600 people were known to have been killed and more than 6,500 others injured after a magnitude-7.8 earthquake hit a mountainous region near Kathmandu. (CNS photo/Navesh Chitrakar, Reuters)