Rukmini foundation has recently welcomed 18 new scholars, and the Didis (elder sisters / mentors) wanted to welcome our Bahinis (younger sisters) officially. With the aim of introducing the new Bahinis to our Didi Program, we organized a meeting on Saturday, May 18th. Almost all of our first year scholars and most of the new scholars were in attendance. We started with the introduction of the Didi program and what we feel are the benefits for the Bahinis. The Didis also explained how their younger sisters (Bahinis) could share their feelings, problems, or thoughts with the Didis just as they would with their own sisters. This was a very new idea for the new scholars so it was important for us to explain how the program works.
After that we had a small introduction of all Didi and Bahinis in attendance. We felt that the Bahinis were a bit shy in opening up, so as an ice breaker, we decided to play a game. One of our first year Bahinis, Sonu suggested an interview game where the 2 Bahinis would introducing each other. We divided the Bahinis in 13 groups for this game. The task they were given was to take 5 minutes to get to know about each other and in the next 5 minutes they had to explain their partner’s name, their likes, dislikes and their ambition through some act or conversation. Everybody found this game to be very interesting, and it really helped the Bahinis to open up.
Even after this game, we found that some Bahinis were still shy in opening up. The Didis held an interactive session about why people tend to be shy or nervous when they have to speak in front of a big group. When asked, most of the Bahinis answered that they felt very shy and afraid of speaking in public because they felt they would sound silly and others would make fun of them for saying the wrong things. This fear was stopping them from coming in front of the group to speak. The Didis tried to make the Bahinis understand that we should not let the fear of looking silly stop us from trying. In fact, we should try to get over this fear by getting in front every chance we get, even though we may not sound perfect. The Didis explained that like singing, dancing, or anything else, speaking in front of a group would require practice. The other important thing for our Bahinis to know was that they would not be made fun of as the Didis and the other Bahinis would support each other.
The foundation’s head Didi, Rasmita, shared her personal experience to provide extra motivation. She shared that when she was the age of most our Bahinis she too was very shy to speak with her classmates because she had switched from a government school where courses were taught in Nepali to a school where English was the main medium. Every day she had a tough time in school because she could not understand most of what the teachers were saying. She talked about how she slowly lost her interest in learning and grew weaker in each course day by day. Rasmita talked about how her parents and teachers noticed her decreasing performance and addressed it with her. They motivated her and supported her through the difficult times, and therefore she gained confidence and started to work harder in school. As result of the motivation, a student who was struggling and vulnerable became one of the brightest students. Rasmita’s story really motivated the Bahinis. Most of the new Bahinis who are attending Shikharapur are facing the same challenge because they are coming from government schools where everything (besides English) is taught in Nepali. In Shikharapur, most courses are taught in English.
After Rasmita’s inspirational talk, we called all of our Class of 2012 Bahinis and handed them the responsibility of helping to mentor the new Bahinis. Each of them accepted the responsibility and were excited to become a Didi to the new students. They will help to get the new Bahinis settled and also work with the other foundation Didis (Rasmita. Pramila, Prakriti, and Prabritti) to report any issues. The Idea of older Bahinis mentoring younger Bahinis is very interesting and we hope this idea will be a big part of the success of the Didi Program. As we were about to conclude our meeting, other leaders of the foundation, Mr. Shashi Sharma, Mr. Niroj Shrestha, and Mr. Kedar Acharya joined us to find out how the program went.
The foundation leaders were very happy to hear about the success of this first meeting. Selection Committee Head, Mr. Kedar Acharya, stressed that it is very important for these girls to be able to speak up because only then can they raise awareness of the challenges their community faces, and only through speaking out loud can they share ideas on how to solve problems. Regional Director, Mr. Shashi Sharma shared how happy he was to meet with our new scholars and he asked all of the Didis, the older Bahinis, and the rest of the school community to put up their best effort to help the new scholars flourish. Finally, our Program Officer, Mr. Niroj Shrestha said that the program was very successful, and that it will only continue to be effective if the Bahinis actively participate in the program. After these words of wisdom, we thanked all of our new Bahinis, old Bahinis, and all of the Didis for making this program successful. As we were getting ready to leave, we all made the following commitment: we will not be afraid of our weaknesses, but instead we will fight them in order to succeed.
Didi – Rukmini Foundation