Interviewer: Aryashree Aryal
“There is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women” – Kofi Annan
The central focus of Rukmini Foundation is provide educational opportunity to girls, specifically in Nepal. Yet this is not just to learn how to calculate annual interest rate or what a mitochondria’s function is. By providing a gateway for open dialogue and reinforcement of the fact that they are a key part of society, education empowers girls to have self-confidence and spread it. There is no reason why women are unable to be independent and have to rely on their husbands. Women literally bring new life into this world and should have the ability to express their opinions freely. A few former scholars discussed their newfound self-confidence developed through the Rukmini Foundation program and their feeling of being reborn in the eyes of their families.
Checking in with past scholars, Rabina, Sonu, Rojina, and Sarathi were all interviewed and optimistically spoke of their current situations. All four are eager to continue their studies in management or business-related fields and spoke highly of their time as a Rukmini scholar.
Rabina radiating self-confidence upon successfully completing her SLC exams
Rabina is one of the original Rukmini scholars and completed grade 10 in 2014. She now attends Pharping Higher Secondary School where she is in grade 12 pursuing a specialization in management and helping out at Rukmini Foundation programs. She is very grateful to still be receiving a Rukmini scholarship.
Sonu was also one of the first Rukmini scholars. As her family does not own any land or livestock, they would not have any means of sending her to school if not for the Rukmini scholarship. She made her family proud by being the only scholar from Shikharapur School to take the exams in 2015 and and receive First Division! Previously she was interested in hotel management, but now is considering business to open a radiology department.
Rojina recently graduated from Pharping Higher Secondary School by passing the SLC exams with First Division. She is now studying management with hopes of getting a scholarship to attend college.
Rojina (left) and Sonu (right) smiling after graduation
Sarathi has dealt with a hearing problem her entire life, yet is not incapacitated in any regards. She loves to express herself through writing and aspires to study journalism. Before the Rukmini Foundation scholarship, her mother broke a leg twice, rendering her unable to work. This placed a lot of strain on the family so Sarathi was asked to stay home instead of going to school in order to look after her younger brother and the livestock. Thankfully, she was able to become a Rukmini scholar, something she was overjoyed to be, demonstrated by the honest gratitude exuded throughout this interview. Graduating from Shikhaapur Community School in 2014, she has since pursued higher education in management and is currently in grade 12.
These scholars discussed the necessity of girls to receive education in order for the family to be “born again.” This phrase was mentioned over and over again and probably stems from the Hindu tenet of reincarnation. However, seeing as often the birth of a daughter is no reason for celebration, maybe this phrase can be taken almost literally. These girls have obviously gained respect within their families by making them proud with stellar exam results and their commitment to a higher education.
These accomplishments are worthy of celebrations so in the eyes of their parents, the girls are “born again” in a new light of appreciation. Their success in education has allowed these girls to create fresh ideas for their futures. Sonu talks about how receiving a scholarship gave new life to her family.
Sarathi expressing herself in front of a crowd with a beautiful poem
Yet I believe that the money was not the only thing to reinvigorate the families. The self-confidence emanated by these girls is contagious. They spoke with huge smiles, assertiveness, and competence. It is evident that they are going to excel in their future endeavors. Sarathi and Rabina both mentioned their amazement in now being able to speak in front of a crowd and maintain a level of assurance. They felt that the Rukmini program helped to form the young women they have become. Rojina explained that involving every possible student in the self-development programs is what makes Rukmini Foundation so successful. These girls seem to have gone through a positive change in disposition. Their self-confidence surely is a comfort to the families, thus instilling revived ambitions for the future.
When asked what advice should be given, Sarathi and Rabina both encouraged the younger scholars to appreciate the opportunity and “make the most of it.” Given the chance to continue their education, the girls can improve both their knowledge and personal identity. Sarathi accurately stated that “education is the key to improve and solve all problems.” These four scholars have gained poise through their time as a Rukmini scholar and will be continuing to advance academically and personally, influencing those around them in a most positive way. They have demonstrated why education is so essential and hopefully through their interactions with others, as Sarathi said, all problems will be closer to solution.