The 7.8 magnitude earthquake that killed thousands in Nepal last month is still very much on people’s minds in Artesia, where even city leaders are getting involved in relief efforts.
The city has launched an effort to collect donations of money and tents for the American Red Cross. On Monday night, the council is expected to vote on whether to donate from city coffers.
“We are going to consider how much money we are going to give to send back to Nepal – so we are actually going to consider that as a council,” said city council member Ali Sajjad Taj.
The response isn’t altogether surprising in this city of almost 17,000, which is more than 37 percent percent Asian. Many residents are immigrants from South Asia, the majority of these from India, but also from Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan and other parts of the region. Neighboring Cerritos is more than 60 percent Asian and has a similar demographic mix.
While the Nepali population in Southern California is relatively small, it’s well represented in Artesia; it’s home to a large Nepali expatriate organization that’s been involved in quake relief efforts since the disaster.
Taj, who was born in Pakistan, says that a sense of solidarity has emerged in the area since.
“Last week I was at a fundraiser where Indian, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan, Pakistani, Afghani, the entire South Asian community… came together to do fundraising for the Nepalese community,” he said.
The fundraiser, held at a Hindu temple in Norwalk, drew several hundred people, Taj said.
The Artesia-Cerritos area is also home to a large number of of Chinese, Filipino, Vietnamese and other Asian immigrants , Manju Kulkarni of the South Asian Network in Artesia.
“It’s not only South Asian solidarity,” Kulkarni said. “I’ve gotten requests from a number of organizations in the (Asian-Pacific Islander) community about wanting to help.”
Taj said Artesia officials reached out to the Nepalese government after the quake and launched the Red Cross partnership soon afterward, an effort dubbed “Artesians for Nepal” that directs residents to information on how to donate money and tents, and to a site that helps families connect with loved ones.
The council will vote on a yet-unspecified amount to donate to relief efforts during its Monday night meeting, to be followed by a candlelight vigil across the street from City Hall.