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Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Samjhana

SAMJHANA
President David (left) with top student Samjhana

Nothing brings us WELNepalians more pride and happiness than sponsoring young women who wish to continue their post secondary school studies. Many of these incredibly bright women come from families who either can’t afford to send their daughters to school or think education is wasted on girls.  Our scholarship students need to be two things — dirt poor and darned smart!
Inside the house Samjhana built

Now, let me introduce you to Samjhana Raut.  If we wanted to be campy, we would call her our “Poster Girl."  Samjhana comes from a very poor family. Her father is a caretaker at a government school, a job that pays very little.  Her mother spends her days washing clothes at one of the local tourist lodges. Samjhana is in charge of the house.
Samjhana’s many duties include cleaning the house, washing the clothes, cooking and trekking into the jungle to cut the wood for the fire she needs to make to prepare the evening meals.  She also is in charge of looking after her older brother and two younger sisters.
Samjhana at home
In spite of all this, Samjhana is at the top of her class — a spot usually reserved for students fortunate enough to have attended private secondary schools. She’s currently earning a bachelor’s degree in business at a local school in Tandi Bazaar, a school she bikes seven kilometers to every day. She is always asking questions about everything and strives to understand the world around her. There is nothing that doesn’t pique her interest.
Samjhana’s heart is also in the right place.  She introduced us to another young woman who needed financial assistance to continue her schooling, and she’s always asking WELNepal for projects for other women in her village.
This past year, Anh (a friend of WELNepal) visited Nepal and met and formed a very special relationship with Samjhana.  The two of them are kindred spirits and are in touch with each other often.  Here’s what Anh had to say about Samjhana:
Samjhana (right) with Anh Luc (left)
Samjhana has such a beautiful, sweet and gentle spirit that you cannot help but fall in love with her personality almost instantly.  I first met Samjhana when David took Barry (another WELNepalian) and me to her lovely home so Barry could film her plastering her house with mud, buffalo dung and dried grass.  She informed us on arrival that she had to miss school that day because she wasn’t feeling well.  But instead of resting, this amazing young lady was up at dawn doing chores. 

I saw a strong and beautiful young lady who carried on her daily chores, despite her illness, without complaint.  When David asked her why she didn’t build her house with cement, she replied — with a big, radiant and proud smile — “because this is my house!”  I will NEVER forget that reply.

A very proud reply that said it didn’t matter if her house was not built with the best or strongest materials, it was her house and she built it with her bare hands. What’s not to love about her? After that first meeting, I wanted to see Samjhana again and made sure that David brought me back when he visited again.  Since then, we have become the best of friends and the best of sisters.

The country of Nepal needs strong intelligent women like Samjhana, and WELNepal needs to be sure that Samjhana’s talents are not wasted.