Report by Niroj Shrestha
Post by Priti Bhattarai

Life has never felt easy for me. Mostly, I feel that I had an ill fate since my childhood. Can you imagine a single mother bringing up 4 children with no support in this expensive time in Nepal? I have almost drowned in this thought and the fears have followed me since my childhood. My father doesn’t live with us. He left home and lives somewhere else. He wasn’t present and didn’t play any role in our upbringing. I think it was because of our family’s poverty that I was sent to a Buddhist Nunnery in my childhood. However, I could not stay there for long, so I came back to my home. I don’t know why, but my mind never seems to be peaceful and I have always felt very restless.


We first met Ogyen in 2013 when she was selected as a Rukmini Scholar. Here she is with her mother and brother.

I studied in a small school in Setidevi until grade 8. I didn’t get to regularly attend school because I suffered from some health problems. Interestingly enough, I always came 1st in my class even thoughI hardly got to go school more than 2 months a year, but I was able to study at home and do well in exams. My English is also pretty good and I think I have some potential, so that  always encouraged me to do well in school.

After Grade 8, my family received help with my education through Rukmini Foundation and I started attending Shikharapur Community School, which is a very good school in the area. Even though my school changed my health continued to be the same…or get worse I should say. That was never in my favor. I could not cope with the new environment due to my poor health. I was very aware that I would not be able to manage my health and deal with the changes, and this realization made the situation even worse.

Muna and Ogyen Enjoying Activity

Happy moments: Laughing with Muna during a Didi Program

I knew that I was in a good school and I was aware that the teachers tried their best to teach me well, but, I did not seem to get settled. This led towards me feeling worse, and I got frustrated. My mother, who had lots of hope for me, was even more upset. Because of my health getting worse, I eventually had to leave school. My visits to the doctor became more regular.  When I saw my classmates going to school in their bright uniforms, I used to cry in my room.  That was the worst time for me.

During this terrible time for me, staff members of Rukmini Foundation (we call them Dais and Didis) were always kind to me and came to meet me to have regular follow-ups about my health progress. Although I was unable to attend school, I managed to attend Rukmini Foundation’s many activities like Didi Programs and other Events. Despite my frustration and sadness, I was very motivated with the personalities like successful and famous Didis who used to come to Foundation’s events.


Meeting with Niroj Dai to share my story and think about the future

Gradually, as I began recovering from my poor health, my teachers and mentors from Rukmini Foundation suggested that I enroll in Open School through Shikharapur. This came as a complete surprise for me because I thought Open school was mainly for school dropouts. I had seen many people from different walks of life attending Open school when I was in regular attendance at school myself. I was confused as to why Rukmini Foundation suggested that I attend Open school. Why not regular school? Despite my initial hesitation, I decided to take this as a challenge and turn this into an opportunity. Fortunately, I succeeded and I was able to pass my School Leaving Certificate (SLC) level national examination. I feel this was the most valuable time in my life, when I completed my SLC – the toughest exam of any student’s life. We celebrated a lot in my family. My mom was so happy that she brought me lots of chocolate and also purchased me new clothes to show me her appreciation for my hard work. Now I am studying at Arunodaya Secondary School in grade 11. I chose English as my major subject in Humanities. My dream in life is to be an English Teacher.


It feels good to be able to smile and be hopeful

I thank Rukmini Foundation and my Didis and Dais at the Nepal Office for the continuous guidance throughout my difficulties. Without their support, I would not be where I am today. I also thank Rukmini Foundation US team who are doing hard work to help many girls in Nepal. The program I like most in is the Didi Program because the way that our Didis treat us is very kind and hearty. Even though I had struggles, I always felt like I was at home and part of the family when I am with the other Rukmini Scholars and the Didis and Dais. I look forward to be a part of it in some way in future. Mostly I am just looking forward now, and that makes me happy.

Ogyen Chomo Lama

About Priti Bhattarai

With a Masters from London School of Economics in NGOs and Development, along with courses in Social Policy and Gender and Development, Priti brings with her the experience of both policy and development. She was born in Nepal, brought up in Japan, and has lived in England for eight years. Before moving to the United States, she went back to Nepal and worked on issues concerning Education for All and Gender Equality. Her work entailed creating awareness amongst the communities in rural Nepal on issues concerning both health and education, whilst striving for change in the country’s education policy. She recently moved to the Untied States and has become part of the Rukmini Foundation. With her previous experience working in Nepal, she has a great understanding of Rukmini Foundation’s mission and vision and will chair the Nepal Team Committee to work closely with our team on the ground to ensure progress, productivity and help forge new relationship with other entities in Nepal.
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