Learning through Sharing
Apr 28, 2022
Nepal is dazzlingly beautiful, with its Himalayas and breathtaking landscapes. But few visitors, even many Nepalis themselves, are aware of the depth of suffering of many of the inhabitants. And it is women who suffer the most.
As a young woman growing up in this context, my realization of the extent of these injustices grew and I decided that my only salvation would be to escape Nepal forever. My subsequent experiences in the many other countries I traveled to enlightened me to the fact that the problems were not contained by the borders of Nepal, but were global problems that no airplane could take me away from.
I returned to Nepal with a newfound sense of purpose to help address the challenges that were plaguing women in my country. I came to see that, as Hilary Clinton wrote in her book, women of Asia speak the "language of silence”. Not only do poor women in Nepal have no money, no education, no access to resources, they also have no confidence, no vision, no hope and no voice. I knew that in order to empower the women in Nepal to end the cycle of poverty, I needed to focus my efforts on building their sense of self worth to inspire them to take action. My first step was to write a book, A Journey to the Self, where I reflected on the process I went through in learning how to gain perspective, hope, and courage to deal with the challenges within my culture.
Shortly after my book was published, the Managing Director of Change Fusion, a Bangkok-based organization that supports young social entrepreneurs in Asia, asked me if I wanted to set up a branch in Nepal. I jumped on the opportunity and started Change Fusion Nepal in 2008 with the aim of supporting young social entrepreneurs who have creative, innovative ideas to help their communities, but lack the expertise and networks to bring them to fruition. Through an intensive fellowship program, Change Fusion Nepal works to provide financing, knowledge, mentorship and networks to help evolve those solution-centered ideas into realities.
One of the young inspiring women fellows is Pushpa Basnet. When Pushpa was 20, she visited a Nepali jail for her social science class and found that children were living in dire conditions with their incarcerated mothers in prison. Convinced to take immediate action, Pushpa opened a home for children where she provided shelter, food, basic health care, education, and, above all, love. In an effort to make the Early Childhood Development Centre (ECDC) self-sustainable, Pushpa applied to Change Fusion Nepal where she learned how to train the incarcerated mothers with income generating skills, such handicrafts and textile production, in order to help support the children. Pushpa’s venture will not only financially support the ECDC, but it will also give a new path and identity to women in prisons who face discrimination and unemployment after they are released from jail.
More information on Change Fusion Nepal can be found at www.nepal.changefusion.org
More recently, I have started a new program called Lunaz Dreams. Based on the belief that true learning and development occurs in a vibrant, engaging, creative space where everyone is an active participant, Lunaz Dreams helps to provide support, guidance and practical skill building to best prepare young people to be the directors of their own lives. By the end of the intensive 15-day workshop, participants are able to clearly define their passions, strengths and skills and have a plan of action to achieve their dreams.
Ultimately, my personal and professional vision is to help inspire and prepare young people to help solve the problems associated with poverty and suffering. It is not enough, I believe, to simply target a group of women in poverty. I truly feel that by tapping into the tremendous potential and energy of both young men and young women, we will ultimately be able to inspire new leaders who will be able to realize their own abilities to make positive and lasting social change.