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On April 25, 2015, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck Nepal, killing more than 9,000, injuring more than 23,000, and leaving tens of thousands lacking food, shelter, and water. Aftershocks continued in the following days and months, including a 7.3 magnitude quake on May 12 that killed or injured another 2,700.

In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, Nepali students at MIT raised funds to send back home. They also requested that MIT assist in addressing the country’s plight. In response, MIT Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart enlisted the leadership of History Professor Jeffrey Ravel to spearhead and coordinate the Institute’s efforts.