Special Didi Program: The hero lies in you

Visit of CNN Hero, Pushpa Basnet

“I feel a little awkward distributing these Certificate of Completion to the Rukmini Scholars because I myself did not pass School Leaving Certificate (SLC) exams!” was the first thing Ms. Pushpa Basnet (Pushpa Didi hereafter), a CNN hero of 2012, told the enthusiastic crowd that came to celebrate Rukmini Scholars recent success of having passed the dreaded SLC exams. She continued, “If you have certain goal in mind and keep working hard you can achieve your dream and you too have a chance to become a hero”, she told our scholars.

Pushpa Didi Shares her Happiness About the Occasion and Gives Words of Congratulations to Scholars

 Pushpa Didi was humble and gracious in congratulating the scholars on their achievement.

Pushpa Didi won the CNN hero in 2012 for her work with children of women prisoners in Kathmandu. She has provided shelter and education to these children, most of whom are girls. Even though Pushpa Didi did not pass the SLC exams in her first try, she persevered and received the certificate later and was able to continue higher studies while also running the shelter. Before becoming a CNN hero, she did not have too many supporters for her work, but she still managed to run the shelter because she knew that nobody else would be able to or interested in taking care of these children.


Although at present, she is a prominent figure in Nepal’s social work arena, she has not forgotten her roots and is a very down-to-earth person despite her celebrity status. Because of Pushpa Didi’s achievement in girl’s education and her personal quality, we invited her to be the chief guest for the celebration. We were extremely delighted and honored that she accepted our invitation despite her busy schedule.

Group Photo with Our Scholars

The amazing and humble Pushpa Didi along with the graduating scholars and foundation mentors (Didis)

After the formal certificate distribution session at A School for Community (ASC) stage, we all moved over to the ASC Bottle House for a special Didi Program (Mentoring Program). Our Bahinis (little sisters) were excited that the special Didi (elder sister) was Pushpa Didi. Since it was a special program, unlike typical Didi session, all of Rukmini staff, some ASC staff, and parents of the graduated scholars participated in the program to hear from Pushpa Didi.

Didis Walk Along with their Bahinis

The scholars along with the mentors make way to the Bottle House

First of all, Pushpa Didi talked about importance of girl’s education. She stressed this point because according to her, “in the long run, giving educating a girl will benefit the whole family and not just the girl”. She told our scholars that the girls need to work extra hard to achieve their goals because of the widespread discrimination that exists in our society. Her advice to our scholar was, “never ever give up to these obstacles”.   During her talk, she also described her struggle in establishing a shelter for children of imprisoned mothers. She recalled that how many, especially those she considered near and dear to her, were against her idea and how they discouraged her work. She concluded her speech by saying, “never be disappointed and discouraged by what other thinks of your work. If you believe in something and continue pursuing your dream, you will certainly be successful”.

Didi program at bottle house

never be disappointed and discouraged by what other thinks of your work. If you believe in something and continue pursuing your dream, you will certainly be successful – Pushpa Didi

After Pushpa Didi’s powerful motivational talk, an interaction session between the Didis and Bahinis (younger sisters) started. However, once the program started, the scholars remained very quiet. They hesitated to ask questions partly due to the fact that Pushpa Didi was someone they used to see on television not in their real lives. Pushpa Didi sensed the nervousness of the girls and said “I was just like you when I was young. I could not speak in public or ask questions in the classroom so I know your feeling. But, to be successful in your life you must speak”. After these encouraging words by Pushpa Didi, slowly the scholars began to interact with her. Our scholars wanted to know what kind of children are there in the shelter; who were supporting her causes; how did her family react when she started the activities and so on. Our own Didi, Prabriti asked about the strategies that she has taken for sustainability of the activities.   One the scholar, Rabina was curious whether she could visit her shelter someday.

Rabina Demonstrates Quiet Confidence Now that She is a SLC Graduate

Scholars like Rabina were not only impressed by Pushpa Didi’s words, but also her actions and want to visit the shelter she has provided for children.

We were all very happy that Pushpa Didi accepted our invitation and came to see our scholars. We became even happier when these scholars interacted with a great personality like Pushpa Didi, and extracted many interesting and useful information, which they can apply in their own lives. What an honor and a privilege to have this type of mentor among us.

Thank you Pushpa Didi!

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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