Tag Archives: Nepal

Queens-based Nepali soccer team raises over $4K for earthquake relief

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the New York Nepalese Football Club

Soccer teams from near and far put on their cleats this weekend to raise money to help rebuild a school that was destroyed after a 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit Nepal last month, leaving more than 7,000 people dead.

Members of the New York Nepalese Football Club (NYNFC) held a “HELP NEPAL” soccer tournament at Queensbridge Park in Long Island City this Sunday where money was raised to continue the group’s efforts in the South Asian country.

After the earthquake hit Nepal on April 25, the crowd helped organize vigils in Jackson Heights and Times Square, and also collected thousands in funds.

“Wherever we go, everyone says we did a very good job and they appreciate our job,” said Pralay Rajbhandari, a player and member of the New York Nepalese Football Club. “Even in Nepal, everyone has come to know about our club.

A total of $4,023 was collected during the May 24 tournament, called the Nepal Relief Soccer Cup, which featured 10 soccer teams – with some from Connecticut and New Jersey – and over 250 audience members.

The funds will go toward rebuilding a school in Khale in the Sindupalchowk region of Nepal, and also providing stationary, bags and uniforms for almost 150 students.

“We thought with being a soccer club, if we do some kind of sporting event it will attract more youth to this cause which was very successful,” Rajbhandari said.

At the end of the tournament, NYNFC came out the winners and took home a trophy.

The group is still selling T-shirts for $15 and bands for $5 in order to continue raising funds for victims in Nepal. For more information, contact Rajbhandari at 347-891-9841.


Jackson Heights students raise $2K for Nepal earthquake victims

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Garden School

A local nonprofit benefiting communities from Nepal received a $2,000 donation from the Garden School Key Club to go toward relief efforts after a 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit the South Asian country last month.

A group of students at the pre-K to 12th-grade school, located at 33-16 79th St. in Jackson Heights, were motivated to help out after hearing of the devastation caused by the earthquake that struck Nepal on April 25 and saw a death toll of more than 7,000 people.

The Garden School Key Club led the fundraising efforts and students, particularly ninth-grader Aneesh D., mobilized in a multi-component initiative which included a soccer match pitting faculty members against their pupils, a “change jug”in the school hallway and solicitation of donations from the community.

The school administration was very encouraging of the students and praised their commitment to the Garden School’s mission of “social involvement.”

Councilman Daniel Dromm helped the Garden School students to identify Adhikaar, an nonprofit benefiting the Nepali community in New York, as a local organization which would help the donations get to those most in need.

Adhikaar Program Coordinator Raji Pokhrel gratefully accepted the donation and spoke to students on progress being made to relieve the damage done to the country and the continued need for aid from the international community.


Candlelight vigil held in Ridgewood for Nepal earthquake victims

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Anthony Giudice

Many of the Nepalese residents in Ridgewood joined together Wednesday night for a candlelight vigil to show their support for the victims of the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that hit their home country last weekend.

Candles were placed on the ground at Clemens Triangle at the intersection of Myrtle and Cypress avenues, while residents held up signs reading, “Pray for Nepal” and showed the strength of their community.

Assemblyman Mike Miller was in attendance, as well as Vincent Arcuri and Ted Renz of the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District, which helped organize the vigil along with Bikash Kharel of the Nepalese American Youth Association and the Ridgewood Nepalese Society.





Ridgewood community asked to support Nepal earthquake victims

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Screenshot via www.gofundme.com

After a devastating magnitude-7.8 earthquake rocked the country of Nepal on Saturday, residents of Ridgewood are being asked to come together to support the victims of this natural disaster.

Ridgewood has a large Nepalese community, and each and every one of them were shaken by the news of the massive earthquake that hit their home country. Some have lost family members in the quake, while others are still waiting to hear from loved ones.

The Nepalese American Youth Association (NAYA) is asking the community to help the earthquake victims by donating items needed by the survivors.

On their Facebook page, NAYA is asking for donations of medical supplies such as bandages, surgical gloves and masks, ibuprofen and sterile syringes. They are also looking for donations of energy bars, clean clothes, blankets, batteries, flashlights, duct tape and other necessities.

Donations are being collected at Nepalese Indian Restaurant located at 907 Seneca Ave.

NAYA has also created a GoFundMe donation page where anyone can donate any amount of money to support the relief efforts. In just four days, NAYA has collected over $3,000 from 78 donators.

NAYA is hosting a memorial vigil for the earthquake’s victims Wednesday evening, from 8 to 10 p.m. at Carl Clemens Triangle located on the corner of Myrtle and Cypress avenues.

For more information on donating and the vigil, please contact Bikash Kharel, treasurer and one of the founding members of NAYA, at 718-581-9840.


Woodside nonprofit raises nearly $25K through online campaign for victims of Nepal earthquake

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Cristina Furlong

Even though they might be far from home, members of one Nepalese nonprofit in Woodside have raised almost $25,000 in donations to help family and loved ones left devastated after this weekend’s earthquake in Nepal.

The nonprofit Adhikaar, which means “rights” in Nepali, started an Indiegogo Life online campaign to raise funds to provide immediate relief for survivors of the magnitude-7.8 earthquake which has claimed over 4,600 lives.

Some members of the organization have lost family and friends after the earthquake, and they have heard news that victims are in need of food, tents, and more trained personnel to conduct rescue operations.

The campaign’s goal was set at $21,000 and the group surpassed that goal, raising $24,937 in just three days. Adhikaar has also raised $8,000 in cash donations with the number growing by the minute.

“It’s great to see so many people reach out to us and helping us during this time,” said Yangal, a program and administration assistant at Adhikaar, whose family lives Nepal. She added that it was difficult to contact her relatives for the first couple of days but now they call every day. 

People can still donate to the campaign by clicking here

All the funds collected by the nonprofit will be sent to volunteers who the organization has remained in contact with in both India and Nepal. The money will then be used to purchase the most basic and necessary resources victims need. 

Cash donations and checks, made out to Adhikaar and specified for the Nepal earthquake, are being accepted at the organization’s Woodside community center located at 71-07 Woodside Ave.

A candlelight vigil, with only electric candles, is scheduled to take place in Times Square on Friday from 8 to 10 p.m.


$24K raised at Jackson Heights candlelight vigil for Nepal earthquake victims

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos by Pralay Rajbhandari

Jackson Heights and the surrounding communities have come together to show the victims of this weekend’s magnitude-7.8 earthquake in Nepal that they are not alone.

Members of the Queens Nepalese community and the New York Nepalese Football Club have begun a fundraising campaign to collect money that will buy necessary items for families left devastated after the earthquake hit the country on Saturday, claiming more than 3,200 lives.

“Whenever these things happen, we get together,” said Pralay Rajbhandari, a player and member of the New York Nepalese Football Club. “We are all united for this great cause.”

Rajbhandari, who has been living in Jackson Heights for eight years, has his whole family in Nepal and spent hours trying to contact them after the earthquake hit. He was finally able to contact his father and found out that his home in Nepal had partially collapsed and his family is currently staying at a shelter.

“It was heartbreaking,” Rajbhandari said. “After I heard the news I was trying to find [my family] but finally after a few hours I talked to my father. There is panic everywhere and the fear is still there. The whole country is in pain right now.”

Photo by Cristina Furlong

Photo by Cristina Furlong

On Sunday, close to a thousand people gathered in Jackson Heights to hold a candlelight vigil and pray for loved ones in Nepal. By the end of the day, $24,000 was collected.

“I was surprised. So many people came, so much support,” Rajbhandari said. “It was not only Nepalese people. All people donated generously and the figure is still going up.”

Councilman Daniel Dromm also attended the Sunday vigil to show his support.

“My heart goes out to the thousands of families who have lost someone in the catastrophic earthquake that hit Nepal on Saturday,” Dromm said. “On Sunday, I joined many of my constituents in Diversity Plaza as a show of support for the earthquake victims. Many established organizations such as Adhikaar, the Red Cross and UNICEF need our support in the form of cash contributions. This is the best way to help right now.”

The organizers of Sunday’s vigil are currently still set up at Diversity Plaza, located at 73rd Street and 37th Road, and are accepting monetary donations as well as clothes or other items.

The president of the New York Nepalese Football Club, Wangla Lama, traveled to Nepal after the quake and is visiting shelters and writing down what people need.

Rajbhandari said that people in Nepal are in dire need of food, water, tents and blankets, and that any kind of donation would help. He also encourages people to donate to the Red Cross.

Photo by Cristina Furlong

Photo by Cristina Furlong

He added that some members of the club have also applied to head to Nepal to volunteer and are just waiting to get the permission to travel.

Assemblyman Francisco Moya, who represents parts of Jackson Heights, is also opening his office for any members of Queens’ Nepalese and South Asian communities who are in need of assistance.

“To New York’s Nepalese community, I send this message—the family of New York is behind you and we will support you in your time of need,” Moya said. “All of New York mourns with you in this moment of sadness.”

A candlelight vigil is expected to be held this Friday at 8 p.m. in Times Square. Anyone who is looking to donate or who has any questions on how they can help can contact Rajbhandari at 347-891-9841.


Cardozo HS senior to take part in Times Square ball drop

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Sonam Lama /  Countdown Entertainment

One Queens teen will be the belle of the ball this New Year’s Eve.

Sonam Lama, a 16-year-old senior at Benjamin N. Cardozo High School, will be one of five representatives from the International Rescue Committee (IRC) to push the button, signaling the lowering of the Times Square New Year’s Eve ball, and help lead the 60-second countdown to 2015.

“It is such a great honor and there are so many thoughts and emotions going through my mind and my heart right now,” Lama said. “I feel blessed to have the opportunity to participate in New Year’s Eve in Times Square and am really looking forward to pressing the button along with other awesome and inspiring people.”

The IRC, an organization that helps refugees from around the world, resettled Lama from her native Nepal when she came to the United States in 2012.

Lama’s family was forced from their village after her father, an active member of the Nepali Congress party, faced pressure to join the Maoists.

Even after they moved to the city of Kathmandu, they were followed, and with no help from the police, they had to keep moving from location to location, according to Lama. In 2005, her father applied for political asylum in the U.S. and left Nepal.

Lama said she didn’t know a lot about America, but imagined her father would be wearing a suit, carrying briefcases and living in tall skyscrapers “like the movies.”

IRC President and CEO David Miliband, Nykhor Paul, an Sonam Lama practice pressing the button. (Photo courtesy of Countdown Entertainment)

IRC President and CEO David Miliband, Nykhor Paul and Sonam Lama practice pressing the button. (Photo courtesy of Countdown Entertainment)

When Lama and her family finally joined her father in May 2012, life in America was not what she imagined, including the small, older building that would be her home. But she did find improvements, such as medical help for her sister who needed a hearing aid.

Though the Elmhurst resident found no language barriers after learning English in school since kindergarten and from watching television, high school was a challenge.

Lama admits at first she had difficulty adapting to her large school, but after joining clubs and activities, such as the Red Cross, UNICEF, badminton and volleyball during her junior year, she was able to make friends.

Joining Lama during the famed ball drop will be models Alek Wek and Nykhor Paul, both former refugees from South Sudan, Jencarlos Canela, an award-winning musician and actor who has volunteered with IRC, and IRC President and CEO David Miliband.


Famous in Kathmandu, anonymous in New York

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


By Louie Lazar

On the narrow streets of Kathmandu, the name “Phiroj Shyangden” is more recognizable than that of Bob Seger or Cat Stevens, legendary rockers who have both written songs about this exotic city, located less than 100 miles from Mount Everest.

As lead guitarist and vocalist of 1974 A.D., the popular band whose concerts have packed stadiums and caused traffic nightmares throughout Nepal since the mid 1990s, Shyangden – with his pierced eyebrow and patented dark sunglasses obscured by wavy black bangs – could rarely surface in public without being hounded for autographs or irritated by gossip-like whispers.

But such hassles no longer plague Shyangden, who continues to sing his hits, albeit from a less glamorous platform: The Himalayan Yak, a restaurant in Jackson Heights thats web site proudly declares, “Good news for all yak meat lovers: We now have yak meat on our menu.”

Three years ago, Shyangden sang and played guitar to the roars of thousands. These days, the closest thing to a roar during his performances is when the No. 7 train thunders across the elevated tracks above Roosevelt Avenue.

“To be honest, sometimes I feel very embarrassed playing here,” admitted Shyangden. “Sometimes I have to play in front of two tables, in front of three people, instead of playing in front of 50,000 people. But I have to do it. This is for my bread and butter.”

Shyangden, 45, is one of several household names in Nepal who have traded the limelight for better financial opportunities in America.

It’s an immigrant narrative with a peculiar twist: celebrity musicians and actors from a faraway land abandoning their fame and ending up among their fans and fellow countrymen in a neighborhood in Queens. The dynamic, however, often leaves “regular” Nepalese-New Yorkers surprised to find such well-known artists living, working, and in many cases struggling, right alongside of them.

In Nepal, an underdeveloped, landlocked country scrunched between China and India, Shyangden said he would typically earn just 20,000 rupees (approximately $244) for large concerts and as little as 2,000 rupees, or $24, for small shows. He also worked as a grammar school music teacher, although that job similarly paid “very little.”

“It was very hard to support my family in Nepal,” said Shyangden, who departed for New York in 2009 while his wife and teenage daughter remained in Kathmandu.

Once in New York, he met two Nepalese immigrants who had been playing a regular gig at The Himalayan Yak – Rajesh Khadgi, 38, an eccentric, eternally-headbanging former drummer of “Robin and the New Revolution,” one of Nepal’s best-known bands, and Prazwal Bajracharya, a pony-tailed, soft-spoken 30-year-old computer networker who had belonged to an underground Kathmandu band called “Lithium.”

Blending traditional Nepali Folk music with modern genres of Rock and Roll, Blues and Jazz, the trio performs several nights a week at the restaurant, which draws a predominantly Nepalese crowd.

Each morning, Shyangden awakes at 8 a.m. and calls his wife and 14-year-old daughter in Kathmandu. He spends his days practicing guitar, composing songs and discussing music and life with his band-mates over tea at a Bangladeshi café. To supplement his income from The Himalayan Yak, Shyangden also gives private guitar lessons to Nepalese children.

Shyangden hopes for his family to join him “in the near future,” but “it is a very long process,” he laments, one that “requires a lot of money.” Still, his combined wages from singing and teaching are far greater than what he earned in Nepal, which helps his family.

The Himalayan Yak is at the heart of Queens’ South Asian cultural hub, with the colorful commercial strip of “Little India” just around the corner.

Against this backdrop on a recent Thursday night, Shyangden and his band played an acoustic show in front of a crowd of about 15 people. Shyangden said he “loves playing” at the restaurant, even if, at times, the miniscule crowds challenge his ego.

“Every time I hear him play, my energy, my vibe, gets better,” beamed one of the few spectators, Xlabia Khadka from Kathmandu, who now lives in Jackson Heights. “Whenever I come here, half of my stress just goes away.”

“When I first came to New York, I said, ‘What the hell is Phiroj Shyangden doing here, playing in this restaurant?,’” said Khadka’s friend, Mohan Poudel, 23. “I knew him as a star. But that’s the New York life. He’s trying to survive, just like us.”