In March of 2018, I  participated in an event organized by Litworld and Global G.L.O.W  for Her Story Summit as a parallel program on the United Nations Status of Women (CSW62) in New York city.  As a partner organization to LitWorld and Global GLOW, Rukmini Foundation was invited to participate along other similar organizations from the Philippines and Kenya. I was one of the representatives from our organization.

It was wonderful to be pat of such a great group in New York City.

Attending the various programs with people from other parts of the world, I was able to better understand what  community leaders are doing to help the girls and women in rural areas. I was awestruck to see the changes on the girls who turned to be mentors and leaders in their communities. I was happy to share my personal story nearly 60 years ago and highlight the situation of women and girls at present in rural Nepal.  While, listening to the stories from Kenya and the Philippines, countries with some cultural differences, we found similarities through our common problems, especially in the economically disadvantaged communities. LitWorld and Global GLOW are working hard to help women and girls in such communities around the world.

I learned a lot during this week from new friends from Kenya and the Philippines.

I was able to observe the changes brought by LitWorl’s program seeing the LitClub members turned mentors like Lilibeth of the Philippines and Mordecai of Kenya. I had seen remarkable changes in the girls of Lit Club Nepal every time I visit. Thanks to our Lit Club mentor/ Didi Prakriti who was able to coordinate 9 Lit Clubs and  bring girls from rural communities to attend Her Story Summit to New York for last 2 years. Seeing her personality evolved as a confident leader is remarkable.

Getting to see the sights of New York was a treat for me.

Reflecting upon my story, I was very nervous at the podium to speak in front of the packed audience like the day I was attending my first day in school back in the late 50s. I was 10 and was admitted at grade 8th without adequate learning to adjust at that level. The difference in skill level, age and other situation made me very uncomfortable that ultimately turned me very timid and meek girl through my adult life. I am very happy for our scholars who have supportive mentors (Didis or elder sisters) who are their to listen help and guide through their problems.

I waited nervously with my co-presenters Surabhi and Prakriti

Working together with the people like Dorothy , Jeniffer, Ana, Monet, Binta, Juliana and all the staff who work very hard for bringing girls and mentors from many countries together to share stories and making everyone comfortable was very inspiring. Also getting to meet with the founder of LitWorld – Pam Allyn and founder of Global G.L.O.W – Kylie Schuyler,  and having close conversation with them and the teams was very inspiring for me.

I was a nervous speaker at the event, but I knew how important it was to share my story . I was encouraged by my co-presenters, Prakriti who is the current Partnership Coordinator for LitClub Nepal and Surabhi who was the first LitClub Nepal mentor. Their help and supportive words made me feel that I could voice my story also.

Presenting with Prakriti and Surabhi was a great experience even though I was very nervous.

Surabhi gave the background information of our Organization – Rukmini Foundation and where we work as well as about where we work. She also gave me a generous introduction and then I shared a little bit of my story and highlighted some of the achievements of our Organization. I then introduced Prakriti to talk about how we have evolved from one LitClub to 9 LitClubs and also one Mom’s Club that was opened last year due to the HerStory Summit of 2017. In that summit, we came up with a Community Action Plan, which focused on empowering mothers to empower daughters and the community. After the presentation was over, we were greeted by many friends and strangers on our presentation. I was relieved and felt some courage after listening to the all participants. 

Photo courtesy of Global GLOW: what an inspiring week it was to be surrounded by such powerful girls and women.

I started talking and even walking with a bit more confidence and courage after the presentation. I felt more hopeful for the future and inspired to do more. Before our presentation, Pam Allyn shared an emotional story about a girl, Diana, who kept a picture of her mother in her pocket as a source of strength. In my mind, I was holding my father’s picture. I thanked this brave father who sent his daughter to school when educating  a girl was almost a taboo in most communities in Nepal. Seeing the progress made by educated girls and women around the world, especially in this week of empowering activities, I know that empowering girls and women through education is possible. Thank you LitWorld and Global GLOW for letting me be a part of this program and for giving me a chance to let my story become HerStory.

Laxmi

 

 

I thank the brave father who sent his daughter to school when educating a girl was almost a taboo in most communities in Nepal. One thing I reflect on though is how I wish we had LitClubs when I was attending school. The girls from these clubs develop such confidence and strength, and I do wish I had the same opportunity when I was growing up.

Laxmi Aryal

Special Adviser, Rukmini Foundation

About Laxmi Aryal

Laxmi was the first female in her family to receive an education. While the education she received was limited, she was able to make the best of it and became the first person from her family and village to complete high school, undergraduate studies and eventually a Masters degree. She eventually earned a Masters Degree from the University of Pittsburgh in Public Policy. Hers is an inspirational story that the Rukmini Foundation hopes to replicate. She serves as an inspiration for the foundation and its leadership.

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