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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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A&M grad lends a hand to earthquake victims in Nepal

Jonathan+Brewer
Photo by Allison Bradshaw
Jonathan Brewer

When earthquakes devastated Nepal in April, thousands of people across the globe traveled to the country, and thousands more donated funds to offer whatever they could to the relief efforts that followed.
First year medical school student and 2015 Texas A&M graduate Jonathan Brewer said he didn’t hesitate to respond when he heard about an opportunity to join those efforts.
“I felt called to go,” Brewer said. “I really wanted to devote my time, and in my humble opinion, whatever I could give to the country of Nepal.”    
In the weeks following the disaster, Brewer partnered with International Health Relief, an independent, non-governmental organization, to fulfill that calling. The group was scheduled to arrive in Nepal five weeks after the initial earthquake to staff a tent hospital and to work in villages hit hardest by the earthquake.
However, a short time before he was scheduled to leave, the World Health Organization deactivated all NGOs, including International Health Relief, at the request of the Nepalese government.
“The Ministry of Health in Nepal didn’t want a bunch of disorganization,” Brewer said. “Their airports were already really crowded, so they just wanted governmental organizations like the Red Cross.”
Instead of giving up on his desires to help, Brewer said he simply shifted his efforts.
“My focus became more to fundraising and sending supplies to my friends that are on the ground [in Nepal],” Brewer said. “We’ve had a lot of great response, and they were able to send supplies into villages that hadn’t even been touched yet.”
Brewer said the college ministry at Hillcrest Baptist Church in Bryan was one of the most influential groups in the fundraising effort.
“We found Jonathan through a KBTX article, and he said they were in need of medical supplies and accepting monetary donations,” said Samantha Shugart, member of Hillcrest Baptist. “Our church group collected donations from anyone who’d be willing to give, and we were blessed with an abundance of supplies from members from our church as well as monetary donations.”
While the results of the new efforts might not seem as tangible, Brewer said he’s glad he can still do what he can while home.
“Even though I wasn’t able to go [to Nepal], it still feels nice to know that I helped a little bit,” Brewer said. “It was really through the help of others, and all the different people and places in the region that donated their time and money to the cause.”
Brewer was one of many Aggies to have contributed money, supplies and food to relief efforts. In total, the Nepalese Student Association alone has received over $20,000 and countless supplies.
NSA President Parveen Chhetri said the efforts haven’t gone unnoticed.
“We were delighted to see the Aggie community’s response,” Chhetri said. “Even though the NSA is a very small community of Aggies, we had an overwhelming and encouraging response from [fellow Aggies].”
Chhetri said efforts in Nepal have shifted toward getting back to a sense of normalcy. With a monsoon season around the corner, Chhetri said providing shelter for remaining refugees has taken precedence.
“A lot of the primary evacuation and medical relief is already over,” Chhetri said. “Now, people are more worried about reconstruction. Monsoons are about to come, and people are concerned about finding shelter for rainy days. Right now all of the relief efforts are [concentrated] to building houses for affected people.”
Brewer said while he hopes another disaster doesn’t strike any time soon, he’s ready to do whatever is needed of him.
“I would hope it never does, but natural disasters happen all the time,” Brewer said. “If anything ever happens again, I’d love to be able to go. It’s just kind of my passion to do global health.”

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