Concert for Nepal to aid country still in great need

The “Concert for Nepal” Saturday, Aug. 1 at CSPS Hall will cap off a month-long fundraising effort led by local Nepali man Suresh Basnet to bring relief to remote villagers struggling after a devastating earthquake that struck Nepal on April 25.

Legion Arts has joined with local artists, the Purna Tara Trust and “Iowa for Nepal” to organize the event and raise funds and awareness. Legion Arts is serving as a fiscal sponsor for the concert and related campaign. Tax-deductable donations may be directed to Legion Arts with the notation “Rebuild Nepal.”

The concert will feature singer-songwriter Pieta Brown, performance artist Jeffery Byrd, actor-singer Lincoln Ginsberg, composer Robert Lindsey-Nassif,  musician Tony Nickle, poet Akwi Nji; artist Dilip Reshmi; and others.

Tickets are $25 in advance, and $30 at the door, and relief donations are welcomed. All funds raised will directly benefit orphans and families. A post-concert reception will feature Nepali food and drinks.

The magnitude 7.8 earthquake in Nepal killed at least 8,800 people, injured 23,000, and left 1 million children in desperate need. Aftershocks have increased the death and casualty toll, and many people are afraid to return to damaged homes as monsoon season begins.

Economic circumstances limit recovery options for Nepal’s citizens. A middle class salary is $100 per month; many survive on $1 per day; the literacy rate is 60 percent and electricity is rationed. Many observers expect that without outside aid, growth will stagnate and conditions will worsen, especially for already disenfranchised groups such as children, women and the impoverished.

Cedar Rapids resident Suresh Basnet, a native of Nepal, led the month-long “Iowa for Nepal” fundraising drive that aims to raise $30,000 for Nepal relief. He co-founded the Purna Tara Trust and is the public policy chair of AsianFest. Previously Basnet served as chair of Legion Arts’ board of directors.

“In Cedar Rapids, we understand what it’s like to go through a disaster,” Basnet said. “After the Flood of 2008, we got help from other communities, from the state and from the federal government. Unfortunately, no such relief will be coming in Nepal. They simply don’t have the ability to help themselves in the wake of a disaster of this magnitude.”

“It’s heartening to see Iowans, and Iowa artists in particular, stepping up to provide assistance to communities on the other side of the world.”

The Iowa for Nepal effort is directly channeling aid to remote areas of Nepal that have scant hope of receiving outside aid. Beginning in mid-May, the effort had already assisted over 400 victims.

The Purna Pam Tara Trust has provided educational scholarships to less fortunate children over the past 15 years, supporting a health clinic in the Simichour village in Nepal.

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