|The Rimal Family. From left to right, Ashok, Asmita, Ram Krishna, Guyatri and Susmita|
Sometimes it's hard to feel deeply about a cause until you see how the gift of education affects, in a profoundly positive way, the life of a real person. Here's a story about one such person, my bahini (little sister) Susmita Rimal.
During my first visit to the little village of Sauraha in Nepal, I found a local restaurant that served a very good dal bhat at a very good price.
The husband and wife team who owned the place, Ram Krishna and Guyatri Rimal, were very happy to have a tourist come for dinner. But their little girl, then four-year-old Susmita, was not accustomed to white faces and kept her distance and let me know that I was not welcome. That was 19 years ago in 1995. I have been going to the Rimal’s for breakfast, lunch and dinner ever since. The Rimal family has since grown to include Susmita’s sister Asmita and her brother Ashok.
The more young Susmita and her sister and brother saw me, the more they warmed up to me. They are now my Nepali family and people I take visitors to see almost right away.
Mother Guyatri was always adamant that her children get the best education possible, even her girls — something many Nepalese villagers don’t think is necessary. The financial burden of sending their children to private schools was oppressive and they sacrificed a lot and made do with very little.
Over the years, I watched Susmita grow into a beautiful and well educated young woman. The Rimal’s went into debt to send Susmita to nursing school — a debt they’re still paying off despite the fact that Susmita received her degree a few years ago. After graduation, Susmita worked in the palliative care ward in a local hospital and tended to dying patients who needed comfort and support in their last few days on earth.
This year, when I go back to my little village and drop in for dinner at my Nepali family’s restaurant, I won’t see Susmita.
After trying for a number of years, Susmita finally won the right to study and work in Australia. She is there now, sending me emails, wondering at the beauty of the ocean and the size of super markets and the use of credit and debit cards. Susmita tells me that she is having some trouble with both the Aussie accent and their expressions. She’ll get the hang of it sooner rather than later.
Susmita will, in all probability, stay to work in Australia. And, knowing my Young Sister, she will be sending money home to her family to pay them back for all their sacrifices to ensure a successful life for Susmita.
Good for my Nepali family and good for my bahini Susmita.
|Susmita in Australia|
Now, here’s Susmita talking about her Australian experience and the wonder, excitement and, yes, homesickness that it entails. She one day wants to return to Nepal to help other women. We couldn’t be more proud of her.
"My parents are my inspiration, especially my mum. I was born in a poor family. My mum and dad are uneducated, but they did lot for our study. David Daai is also an important part of my life who was with my family when they were unable to pay my school fee and who encouraged my family to send us to school. Finally after a lot of struggle for my parents, I am able to achieve success.
Now I am here in Australia. I am getting a golden opportunity to learn. I am happy here even though it’s very foreign, but more than this I am missing my family, a special DAL BHAT cooked by mum and our beautiful Sauraha where I used to have lots of fun with my sister, brother and friends. I have already enrolled in the Bachelor of Nursing program at Charles Darwin University in Darwin. After completing my study, I will be a registered nurse of Australia. After that, my plan is to do welfare work and to become a skilled person in the nursing profession. When I earn money, I want to do a lot for my family and go to Nepal and work in maternal and child healthcare. Those are my future plans. I wish my dream will come true one day."