Connecting the Local & Global: Thank you, Rukmini Foundation

In August 2014, I entered my third year at the University of Pittsburgh when I found out about Rukmini Foundation through the Global Switchboard. Rukmini Foundation took an integrative approach that emphasized adolescent girls’ education, formative mentorship and commitment to reducing systemic barriers to health and wellness. To connect the local with global and combine my interests in girls and women’s education and health and wellness, I began volunteering with the Foundation. I intended to contribute my writing and outreach skills, curiosity, drive and understanding of adolescent health to help improve the Foundation’s efforts while learning more about international development and the operations of a nonprofit.


Johanna, Shilpa, and I were members of Global Brigades Executive Board and also part of the Rukmini Team

Over the last year, I learned how instrumental being flexible, constantly adaptive and dedicated enables Rukmini Foundation to serve girls and families in Pharping, Nepal through quality programs and school partnerships. I have had the wonderful opportunity to work with Rukmini Foundation team and board members in Pittsburgh and Nepal. Rukmini Foundation fosters supportive community and network of volunteers committed to advancing gender and education equality. Mentorship, one of the pillars of the Foundation’s efforts, is exhibited within the team. Priti and Bibhuti have given me constructive feedback on my work, encouraged ideas I proposed and supported me through career decisions.


Me with the University of Pittsburgh’s South Asian Student Association (SASA) Board. I am proud to have been able to connect Rukmini Foundation and SASA, which has led to more advocacy and fundraising opportunities

Though I volunteered in Pittsburgh, Rukmini Foundation’s initiatives connected me with the community of Rukmini Didis and Scholars and their families in Nepal. I learned from the exchange of stories about Pittsburgh and Nepal. The team’s tireless efforts to make sure girls living in the most marginalized communities are given an opportunity for education, mentorship and wellness programs has inspired me to learn more about the intersection between gender, health and international development especially as it relates to South Asia.


With a global cohort from the Hesselbein Global Leadership Academy at the University of Pittsburgh in July 2015

Thanks to my experiences with Rukmini Foundation and their supportive network, I received a Fulbright Award to study for a Master in Gender and Development (gender studies and international development) at the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom for the 2016-17 academic year. At Sussex, I hope to further my understanding of how grassroots organizations like Rukmini Foundation, private sector and policies influence development practice and can include systemically disadvantaged groups at the center of conversations. I am so glad and grateful to be part of the Rukmini Foundation team– it is a lasting connection.

Harinee Suthakar
Volunteer Intern, Rukmini Foundation

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