By Frances Kai-Hwa Wang

As Nepal struggles in the aftermath of devastating earthquakes and aftershocks, the youth of Nepal - from members of the indigenous ethnicities to the Nepali and Tibetan diaspora in America - are leading the way to fill the gaps left by government, development agencies, and waning international interest.

“Much of the world came together to support Nepal but the youth of Nepal have been especially impressive,” wrote Nepali fashion designer and political activist Shakun Sherchand on her Nepali Emergency Village Relief GoFundMe site. “There have been thousands of grassroots initiatives, self-organized, like our crowd sourcing fundraiser, that have sprung up all around the country and among Nepali communities globally. So much of the initial aid that went out from Kathmandu to the villages came from these person-to-person contacts and dedication.”

One group, the Buddhist People’s Rights Forum (BPRF), saw the government’s lack of response as symptomatic of wider discrimination, and was compelled to act. The group raised almost $150,000 from connections around the world, and coordinated the collection, packing, and delivery of truckloads of food, tents, and supplies to some of the poorest and hardest hit areas that were being missed by government and larger international aid efforts.

“Seeing the youth be so proactive in distributing their services, relief and helping coordinate for such a national disaster during a political and governmental vacuum has been brilliant,” Nepali American Joshua Leslie who grew up in Nepal and recently graduated from Georgetown University told NBC News. “Yet, this energy and adrenaline cannot be put to rest. To ensure that such a lack of organized response does not happen again, we have to not only rebuild the lives of those affected, but also rebuild and be active in building the identity of our country that is inclusive of all the different ethnicities, cultures and religions.”

In the U.S., The Nepalese American Youth Association is raising funds, collecting and transporting relief supplies, and coordinating the efforts of students who are heading to Nepal at the end of the school year to help.

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