Believing in yourself and following your dreams are things that we would all like to do, but not all of us are as fortunate to be able to do so.  For many girls in Nepal, their future has limited options and often those choices are not something a girl would dream of.  For most girls in the poorest areas of Nepal, even having the chance to stay in school and become educated is a dream that is often not realized.  However, Nepal also has had some inspirational leaders like Dharnidhar Koirala, who was a renowned poet in the late 1960s, and an advocate for education and social justice.  During a time when it was not popular to do so, he fought for the rights of girls and women in terms of access to education.  Through his leadership, a women’s school, known as “Mahila Vidyalaya” was founded. Unfortunately, the school was later shut down due to lack of financial support and even interest from within the community.

A new generation of leaders, who understand the importance of providing access to education for girls and women, reopened the school in 2008. Since then, hundreds of women from around the Pharping area who were previously deprived of education have benefited from the school.

Listen to some of the stories of success from this program in this video:

A mother of one of the Rukmini scholars is among the beneficiaries of the women’s school. Just recently, the 4th anniversary of the reopening was celebrated by holding an event at A School for Community (ASC).  As part of the celebration, Anju Panta, a popular Nepali singer was invited to entertain the audience, but she did more than that.  Her story of how she was inspired to become a singer and how she remained loyal to her dreams, inspired the audience, especially the girls of Rukmini Foundation who took part in the event.

Anju Panta sings and speaks about her story.

Anju Panta sings and inspires the audience.

Every year, the school celebrates Mahila Vidyala Day by inviting prominent guests and by performing cultural programs such as dancing and singing. This year the special guest for the occasion was Anju Panta. She is not a stranger to Nepali music fans. She is not only a prominent figure in Nepal, but she is also popular among Nepalese worldwide. However, she shared something about her inspiration for singing which is not known to everyone.. Anju, who grew up in Eastern Nepal has a deep connection with the Pharping region. Her father and other relatives hail from the area. Until her recent success, her family was in a constant struggle for day-to -day survival. Even in this struggle, she never gave up on her passion for singing. And according to her, the inspiration behind this passion was her paternal aunt, known as fupu in Nepali.

According to Anju, when her fupu was young, she used to get scolded if she was caught singing around the house. Her fupu could never realize the dream of being a singer because a woman in her day was expected to focus only on household chores. Anju too was fond of singing from her childhood days. She was afraid that like her fupu, she would have to give up singing because of social pressures. However, Anju vowed to become a singer when she got older, and that she would show the world that a woman can be a success in other areas besides housework. Through hard work and the inspirational support of her fupu, Anju eventually became one of Nepal’s most prominent singers.

Anju told the audience that every person can realize their dreams as long as you have a passion for it. She told our students to identify their passion and be persistent. She expressed to the girls’ parents how important it is for them to support their daughters in pursuit of their dreams. The entire audience seemed moved by Anju’s words and we were fortunate to get to know the real Anju Panta.

Rukmini Scholars Take Part in Celebration Event

Rukmini Scholars Take Part in Celebration Event

The Rukmini girls also shared the stage with Anju and four of them also performed by dancing to one of  her most popular songs. The girls were very much inspired by Anju’s speech, her songs, and her inspirational story. Stories like Anju’s is what we hope to replicate for our scholars, and helping to identify and nurture their passion will be one of the goals of our foundation.

Anju Panta Inspires Rukmini Scholars

Anju Panta Inspires Rukmini Scholars

This event was a great day for all involved in women’s empowerment and we sincerely thank Anju for making this a day to remember for our Rukmini scholars.

Nabin Aryal
Program Manager – Rukmini Foundation

About Nabin Aryal

Dr. Nabin Aryal led the foundation’s work in Nepal from the inception till April 2015. He is now serving as a special adviser from his new home in Myanmar where he works with the US and Nepal Teams to provide strategic guidance for the foundation. He received a PhD in Economics from Hitotsubashi University and has been managing NGO programs in underdeveloped areas in Nepal, India and Sri Lanka and has extensive experience in grassroots development efforts.
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