10.11.12 was an auspicious day for Rukmini Foundation. Not only was it the first anniversary of our foundation, it also coincided with the United Nation’s international Day of the Girl Child. To celebrate, our team in Nepal organized a small ceremony to commemorate both of the occasions. The scholars and their parents, teachers of Sikharapur and other neighboring schools, members of A School for Community (ASC), and few local influential persons attended the ceremony. The event’s significance was enhanced by the presence of Rukmini Foundation’s honorary chairperson, Laxmi Aryal who brought with her a special gift for the students.

The foundation's scholars, their parents, foundation staff and school staff along with community leaders joined us in this historic event.

10.11.12 – A day to remember for everybody involved with the foundation.

The event had three major objectives: summarizing the foundation’s activities and achievements of the previous year, discussing the significance of the International Day of the Girl Child, and delivering to the students a gift brought to Nepal by our Honorary Chairperson from the United States. The event began with my presentation of last year’s activities, achievements and issues along with a thank you for all of our supporters and donors who made it possible.  We felt that in year one, our foundation was able to achieve most of the original goals, however some items like web-based teaching and creating an interactive platform between the scholars and donors has not materialized yet. I also spoke about the significance of October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child and about this year’s theme of seeking to end child marriage.  By keeping the girls in school, we are already making a difference in this regard.

The surprise gift of these tablets loaded with an entire library of books caused a lot of excitement.

After the presentation, Ms. Laxmi Aryal gave the students a surprise by bringing out some eBook readers as gifts.   As the audience had little or no knowledge about such devices before, there was quite an excitement in the air. I had already written a report on the state of the library in the schools here so Laxmi talked to the audience about importance of using technology like these eBook readers.  After giving a small demonstration on how to use them, she handed over the devices to Rabina who was acting as the representatives for the scholars.

While the scholars were now busy exploring the new devices, the Selection Committee Head and renowned local poet, Kedar Nath Acharya, recited some poems for the audience. His first poem was about the struggles and efforts by Rukmini, the foundation’s inspiration, to promote education in the area. He also recited a poem about the state of education and other contemporary social issues in Nepal. The poems full of humor and satire made the audience smile, laugh and also think.

Foundation's Education Partners - Shikharpur Community School and A School for Community Leaders Speak about Meaning of this Event

After the audience’s mood was lightened by the poems, the principal of Sikharapur Community School and the Secretary General of A School for Community (ASC) shared their thoughts on the past year’s achievements of Rukmini Foundation. Shyam Shretha, the principal of Sikharapur School spoke to the audience about how his school was very honored to have the support through the scholarships and efforts to transform the education system in the region. He congratulated the foundation and wished for more future successes. He also addressed the scholars about the importance and responsibilities of receiving a scholarship. The representative of ASC, Niroj Shrestha, talked about how ASC and Rukmini Foundation are collaborating to bring positive changes in the education field in the region, such as the Project Based Learning curriculum initiative that we are collaborating on. He stressed on the synergies of our partnership and also addressed the scholars about the importance of giving back to the society after being successful.

Sarathi fights nerves to deliver a wonderful speech.

Sarathi fights nerves to deliver a wonderful speech.

Following these speeches, it was Sarthi’s turn to talk on behalf of the scholars. Sarathi told the audience how grateful she and her fellow scholars were for the scholarships they received. She mentioned that because of the scholarship, her parents had less of a financial burden. She especially thanked the donors of Rukmini Foundation and hoped that more girls like her will receive a scholarship in the future. Everyone in the audience was proud of her speech, as she was known for her shyness and fear of public speaking.

After the inspiring speech from Sarathi, the Regional Director, Shashi Sharma, spoke and thanked the audience for coming to the celebration and sought their cooperation for the future.  He shared his experience about the challenges he and other community leaders have faced in trying to bring quality education to people of all castes and genders in the area. He also spoke about a recent seminar organized by United Nations Education and Science Organization (UNESCO) in Bangkok, Thailand that he attended because of his work in improving education in the Pharping area.

After the speeches were over, tea was served. Tea is an important part of ceremonies in Nepal, where informal but significant discussions take place. This event was no different, with most of the guardians of the scholars keen on talking with the honorary chairperson. Laxmi and the gurdians discussed about the objectives of the foundation and also about the future plans as well as Laxmi’s own history. The scholars were all busy playing with their devices to learn how to use their new library.

Rukmini Foundation’s first anniversary was neither a flamboyant nor a glitzy event, but it was very meaningful to the scholars and their guardians as well as all of us at the foundation and our partner organizations that got to see the happy faces of the girls full of hope of the coming years.  A big Dhanyabaad (thank you in Nepali) to all of our friends, supporters and donors for making this great event possible.

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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