Volunteer Spotlight: Srikaran & Matthew
Srikaran Masabathula and Matthew Surprenant
Earthquake relief volunteers from Knox College, Illinois.
“This is our second year at Knox and we were looking to make a positive difference this summer. When the earthquake hit Nepal, along with few Nepali friends at Knox, we were sleeping peacefully completely unaware of the devastation going on on our planet. My Nepali friends were very quick to post the personal destruction that they experienced overnight. The pictures shared, stories told, were absolutely heartbreaking and Srikaran was told by his friend, Swechhya Rajbhandary, about her former babysitter who was killed while trying to protect her baby from falling rubble. The baby miraculously survived, but her babysitter, a newlywed, got killed. Hearing just this one story really hit us hard and we can’t even begin to imagine the thousands of other horrific stories just like this, which no one has been able to tell. A few days later after the earthquake had hit we had a long, meaningful conversation about the things going on across the world. With summer coming up, and classes ending, it was on our minds where we would be working this summer and about going back home to see our families. That is when it really hit us that our friends, the ones we have studied and played with, may not have a home to go back to. Their towns and houses are destroyed and they had to be away from it all, not even with the comfort of their family by them. There is a few different types of donations, the obvious one is money (which we as college kids have very little of) but there is also time and talent.
We personally think our time and talents would be immensely more beneficial to this hurting country than any small monetary donation we could scrape together. We learned about OLE Nepal (Open Learning Exchange) through one of our professors at Knox College Ms. Manisha Pradhananga, our faculty advisor for this project, who knew someone in the organization. We personally think that this is a perfect opportunity for our skills to help benefit the people of Nepal. We would love the opportunity to help rebuild a nation that is in need of help and we think we can be of great help to the country that a lot of our friends are from and a country that is completely devastated at the moment.
Some of the reasons we think that our trip to Nepal could benefit the people in need there, as much as it would benefit us, is because of how much we could bring to the table. During the summer Matt worked as a construction management leader at a business, STC Investments, in Macomb. This work has allowed to pick up first-hand knowledge of anything from how to maintain and build houses, apartments, to basic plumbing and concrete work. In addition to this knowledge, we have the ability to physically labor, which is something the people of Nepal drastically need in their relief efforts. While Srikaran, having grown up in India, speaks four different languages and would be able to communicate well between volunteers.
Our interest with OLE Nepal stems from our desire to help benefit some of the hardest hit of this situation, the children. Being able to work in camps as counselors and being involved in community efforts has given us an appreciation for children and the innocence they have. Unfortunately, most of the Nepali children affected by this had to give up their childhood the day the earthquake hit. Although something small, the ability for a child to have a safe location, a school, that they can go to and forget how bad their situation is, is honestly the best gift we could give.”
Srikaran is majoring in Economics
Matthew is majoring in Environmental studies