As a student, one might think they can only control qualities like grades, a job or what one might have for breakfast. A former App State student’s experience mobilizing change for a community across the world might say otherwise.
Suresh Niraula, a former App State student, was one of the speakers on the panel hosted by the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts Thursday night. He spoke about his actions during the 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Nepal. He reached out to the Wine to Water organization and in less than 30 days helped bring water to 23,000 people in Nepal.
“I had a fire inside that I wanted to do something for underprivileged people. I knew had to do something,” Niraula said.
Dinesh Paudel, assistant professor at App State, guided Niraula to the Wine to Water organization to not only help his family but also thousands of others. Nepal is a beautiful country filled with good people but one that dealt with a political and economic rebound during the earthquake, Paudel said.
“It changed Nepal’s course of development for a long period of time,” Paudel said.
David Cuthbert, the CEO of Wine to Water, spoke with Paudel the next day to start the restoration project for Nepal.
“Within 48 hours, 60 of his classmates showed up. This is a powerful thing. We felt out of our league,” Cuthbert said. “Wherever Suresh said to go, we went. We are constantly looking for people and friends who can provide that support if we don’t have it there.”
Nepal, before the support from Wine to Water, had communities spending hours of their day collecting water for their families. This time not only took energy, but also limited the other opportunities necessary for advancing a community; opportunities like an education system, better housing and time for work were not an option.
The water gave them these opportunities, Cuthbert said.
The impact is global but the idea started in Boone. The community in Boone is filled with friends and neighbors willing to help, Cuthbert said.
“The thing that is most important in these areas is people committed to helping their neighbor,” Cuthbert said. “I don’t think Boone knows how much it did around the world. Your local support is changing the lives of tens of thousands of people in places that you don’t even know.”
Lee Ball, chief sustainability officer for App State, encouraged the audience to engage in the community, both on and off campus.
“Don’t underestimate the power and the ability of one person to make a difference. Our ripples will turn into waves,” Ball said.
Doc Hendley, the founder and president of Wine to Water, spoke during the event.
“When the idea came to me to start Wine To Water the only real job experience I had was tending a bar. I dreamed of building an organization that fought water-related death and disease using different methods than anyone else,” Hendley said. “So, I started raising money to fight this water epidemic the best way I knew how, by pouring wine and playing music.”
Hendley complimented the efforts of his team and the community around him. He detailed the vicious cycle he experienced of self-doubt and how it almost ended his life.
“I can’t believe I get to wake up in a community that supports us the way you all do,” Hendley said. “Just take that first step. Just move. The God that I believe in loves to use people in their brokenness.”
The three-hour event was co-sponsored by APPS, the Department of Sustainable Development and the Office of Sustainability. The event was concluded with a Q&A session.
Story by Alexander Hubbell, A&E Reporter
Photo by Alexander Hubbell
Featured photo caption: Suresh Niraula, Dinesh Paudel, David Cuthbert, Pavan Mudiam and Courtney Matta, employees of Wine to Water, are given the floor at the panel session at the Schaefer Center Thursday night. The panel focused on community impact, one of them being Boone.