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Tuesday, 20 December 2016

WELNepal Success Stories

Nine years ago, an extremely bright young student named Kalpana was having a very difficult time convincing her family to allow her to continue her education past the secondary school level. Her parents, especially her grandfather, felt that it was totally unnecessary for a girl to go to school, especially if it was going to cost money.  Besides, at the age of 18, it was time for her to be married off, by arrangement.

Nicola, a good friend of WELNepal, offered to cover Kalpana’s school fees for as long as she wished to study. With that, Kalpana was able to reject her family’s plea to be married. That was nine years ago. Kalpana now has her masters in mathematics and teaches at the high school level.
Kalpana tells me that her grandfather had a problem with the local Nepal authorities over some land rights. After Kalpana filed all the proper documents and dealt with bureaucrats (some of whom are always on the lookout for some pocket change), her grandfather, with tears in his eyes, thanked her for saving him.

And, that was the beginning of WELNepal’s work with those young women who wish to study and not to get married and make babies.

Meet Apsara. Apsara’s mother is the custodian/janitor at a private school in a little town near WELNepal’s work area. Because of Apsara’s mom’s paltry salary, Apsara was allowed to attend the school free of charge. Kids, being what they are everywhere, had a good laugh at Apsara’s expense. Apsara had the last laugh, when she finished top of her class every year.  Of course, Apsara had no chance of continuing her education.  That’s when Apsara’s good friend Val, who lives in New York, offered to help. Apsara has one more year of study for her bachelor’s degree and she fully intends to achieve her masters. Nobody laughs at Apsara any more.

Sharmila’s father owns a tea shop and Sharmila’s father and his two wives stay home while Sharmila runs the shop.

The shop was also Sharmila’s home.  She would get up before five every morning to make the eight kilometer bike ride to her classes, which started at 6:00 a.m. At 10:00 a.m. after class, she would pedal back to open her tea shop and work until 7 or 8.  Sharmila would make her dinner, study until 10 or e11 and then sleep on the only table in the shop, and start all over the next day.  Sharmila’s father refused to pay for any of Sharmila’s school fees.  Sharmila once said to me, with a sad little smile on her face; “I think maybe my father is not such a good man.”  But Isabelle is a good woman and covered Sharmila’s school expenses.

Was Sharmila a good student?  You bet she was.  After getting married and having a baby, Sharmila continued her studies and won a scholarship to study in Japan.  I’m betting that Sharmila, after completing her schooling, will choose to stay in Japan and have her husband and baby join her. She will likely find a well paying job and send money back to Nepal to help her brothers and sisters, so they don’t have to work in the family tea shop.

This is Samjhana. Samjhana’s father is also the janitor of a government school.  Her mother washes clothes for some of the lodges and hotels in the area.  When not in school, Samjhana, as the oldest daughter, was responsible for cooking for her three siblings and doing the housework.  Samjhana is our poster girl.  She has the two criteria that is required for our bursary support; dirt poor and darned smart.  Samjhana is now studying for her masters in accounting and has a job keeping books for the biggest restaurant in the tourist town of Sauraha.


Meet Priti BK. Yes, that is her last name. It’s pronounced “Bee-Kah.”  Her last name would tell any person of Hindu faith that Priti is from the “untouchable “ caste.

Priti BK
That hasn’t stopped Priti.  Along with studying for her degree, Priti has also taught one of our adult women’s literacy classes. If fact, she taught them so well that the group of women are now involved in our income generating projects.  Priti has not stopped to rest on her laurels. This year, she is back teaching another group of women how to read and write in their own Devanagari script for the first time in their lives.  But Priti still needs help.  Anne in Toronto has offered to be her “sponsor” while Priti achieves all that she wishes.

And finally, meet Sonu. Sonu’s high school education was covered by a scholarship offered by the private school she attended. Sonu took full advantage by passing with “Distinction ” at the top of all students, not only in her school, but in all the schools in the district.

Sonu’s scholarship ended when she passed out of secondary school. But Marla stepped in to ensure that Sonu gets to keep studying. Early this year, I met Sonu while I was in Nepal.  Sonu announced to me that she loves to practice her English and proceeded to not stop practicing her English with me, while asking for answers about everything from what’s inside the earth to what on the other side of the stars.

As you can see, there’s a pool of untapped talent in Nepal that just needs a little extra help to flourish. These women had a will, they just needed a way.
While all these stories had happy ending, many do not.

Perhaps you might want to give the gift of learning this Christmas.

For more details, email WELNepal president David Walton at

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