Editor’s Note: When there’s a natural disaster, people want to connect with friends and family. Just ask Chris Bekemeier of Portland, Oregon, whose 20-year-old son Noah was part of an academic program in Nepal when the devastating earthquake struck. While in Nepal, Chris used her Verizon mobile phone to keep in touch with her son – all at no charge because Verizon is providing free calls and texts to Nepali numbers through May. Verizon also is matching its employees’ contributions to the Red Cross and World Vision.
“I want to send my heartfelt thanks to Verizon for waiving charges to Nepal from 4/25 to 5/31,” Chris writes. “Thank God; he and his fellow students and program staff are fine.”
Noah, a student at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, chose a study-abroad program in Nepal starting in January because he wanted a “far different experience in terms of people and culture.” While he felt the initial quake and many aftershocks, he wasn’t near the epicenter. However, his host family in Kathmandu was impacted; their son’s house was destroyed.
After Noah’s return to Oregon, he remains in contact with his host family using his Verizon cell phone and the Nepali language he learned.
“I will never forget my host family and the people of Nepal,” said Noah. “At first it felt like leaving Nepal was abandoning them, but since coming home, I realize I’m actually in a better place to help them.”
Noah and several fellow traveling students with the School for International Training (SIT) are raising money to deliver urgently needed supplies and medical help to devastated areas of the country. The group decided to support five organizations working directly in Nepal to help with recovery and make a lasting impact. For more information on their efforts, go to: http://www.youcaring.com/emergency-fundraiser/the-green-arrow-fund/348182
“In addition to the huge assistance the (Verizon) program has provided me in communicating with Noah to problem-solve while he was figuring out what to do and how to get home,” said Chris, “it’s also providing a wonderful opportunity for Noah to keep in contact with people he grew very close to and then had to leave behind so suddenly. He called his Kathmandu family just recently. I was able to listen to them converse in Nepali. It was so gratifying! From the very bottom of my heart, thank you so much!”