Last Sunday, May 3, Arlington’s Nepali residents and the Arlington’s Diversity Task Group organized a candlelight vigil in front of Arlington’s Town Hall to honor victims of last week’s earthquake and support local families deeply affected by this tragedy.
The gathering was emotional, as several residents from Arlington and surrounding communities shared updates about their families and destruction in their home towns. In addition to paying tribute to the victims – more than 7,000 to date -, Burlington resident Sachi Amatya also mentioned how deeply it affected Nepali culture, “ Nepal, as we know, is a very very small country, but we take our culture and heritage with a lot of pride.” She recalled childhood memories of all the temples and palaces in her native area, which most of them are now reduced to rubble, sadly.
Nepali residents received warm support from their neighbors and our community at large. Heather Smith, ESL teacher at Stratton School said, “Most of them told me their families were all OK and so of course I said that the most important thing, but I don’t think that tells the whole story, because they mentioned many of their houses were gone.” This vigil is only one of a series of remembrance events which occurred around the Greater Boston area and in neighboring towns like Somerville and Cambridge. Despite these grief-stricken circumstances, Nepali around the world are talking about rebuilding efforts and invite us to stay engaged with them as they figure out how to move past this devastating earthquake. People who want to donate are invited to do so with reputable non-profit organizations. Laurence O. McKinney, Arlington resident and Chairman of the Uncle Sam Committee, reminded us that the U.S. dollar stretches far in Nepal.
Around 120 people gathered that evening. The vigil was also a reminder for Arlingtonians that our town is made of people from diverse backgrounds. By playing the national anthem and spiritual music, singing traditional songs, and giving their testimonies, the Nepali residents also honored and celebrated their culture.