“Each new day is a blank page in the diary of your life. The secret of success is in turning that diary into the best story you possibly can.” Douglas Pagels
The Rukmini Foundation grows through our scholars and members, and so does our story through their lives and stories. These stories are about girls finding their dreams, setting goals and striving for set goals through education, mentorship and the support of Rukmini community, which includes LitClubs and HerStory programs. We celebrate these stories and the girls who live them through the local HerStory Campaign. An initiative of our partner organization, Global GLOW, the HerStory campaign operates in many countries throughout the world to provide programs and initiatives for girls to empower themselves through literacy and community.
With the participation of over 151 Lit Club members and their mentors from 10 different local schools at the Arunodaya Secondary School at Satikehl, Rukmini Foundation held the 5th Local HerStory summit over 15th – 17th of August.
Over the three days of the summit, the girls organized into 8 different groups, shared their personal stories through poems and stories they wrote. The LitClub mentors along with Rukmini staff organized various activities for the girls to participate in that build new friendships, encouraged confidence and empowerment. The purpose of the HerStory Summit is to give our girls an opportunity to share their stories of struggle and dreams so they can learn about each other as they grow together and build a better community for their future. To this purpose, during the 5th Local HerStory Summit, the mentor of LitClubs encouraged the girls to think about real-life superheroes. We wanted the girls to think about everyday heroes, their achievements and the impact they had in our community. The participants shared, learned and celebrated with each other and their dreams through literature and friendship.
On the second day of the summit, mentor Milan Mahat of Arunodaya Lit Club talked to the girls about superheroes. The first images that come to mind when we think of superheroes are characters with supernatural powers and strength in a cape who fly around saving the world. Mentor Milan Mahat instead talked to the girls about real-life people without supernatural powers or strength who do heroic deeds in their daily life. She talked to the girls about doctors, teachers, social workers, police officers, etc. , and the positive impact they have in their community. These real-life heroes are people and characters the girls know and strive to be in their future.
One such hero the girls had an opportunity to meet on the second day of the HerStory Summit is Didi Kamala Tamang. A successful local farmer, a businesswoman, and the elected representative for the Dakshinkali Municipality; Didi Kamala sat with our girls and told them her story. She told the girls how through hard work, determination and family support were cornerstones to her success.
Didi Kamala told the girls her story, how she started by selling the fresh vegetables and fruits she grew in her small patch of land and eventually made enough to rent enough land to grow crops on a larger scale. Today, her farm is a success and she is also able to provide employment to locals in her farm. Besides the work she does on her farm, as the elect municipality, Didi Kamala is taking a more active role in community development in her municipal area.
Although Didi Kamala did not go to school past grade four, she had the drive to be someone and do something meaningful for her community. Through her hard work and determination, today she is a successful and exemplary member of her community, and as such, she was an inspiration for the girls to never give up on their dreams.
After hearing her story, the girls asked Didi Kamala asked various questions about her business, agriculture in Nepal and her habits. Bahini Rasmila Tamang of ShreeKrishna Lit Club asked why Nepal imported the majority of its fresh produce when Nepal itself is an agriculture-based country. Didi Kamala talked to the girls about hard work, expense, and labor required to operate a large scale commercial farm. She explained that
“while most people farmed, they did so for their own personal use and in small scale as they may not have the resources or diligence to do so. I organize my time and I work hard all day so that I can manage my farm and also do my duties as municipality elect person.”
Didi Kamala told Jaya Tamang about the steps she took to rent and start farming on a larger scale and how she only used natural compost and fertilizers on her crops. Further, she credited her family and their support and encouraged the girls to build a strong relationship with their own family and community. She emphasized through her story that true success is only possible when we make our community better and stronger through our actions.
Amidst dancing, singing, learning and sharing stories, the girls spent the three days of HerStory Summit participating in various activities and games led by the mentors that encouraged them to reflect upon their own stories. Through activities of reading, dancing, and artwork, the girls were encouraged to talk about their life goals, commitments to their education and family as well as their thoughts on real-life superheroes. They learned solidarity, found new friendships and charted new goals as they pledged together to participate actively in helping their family, community and all those around them that they could. Together, they put together the “commitment garland” that held the pledges the girls made to themselves and their community.
On the last day of HerStory summit, a formal event was held in the participation of various local spokesperson, community members, and Rukmini Foundation guests. The mentors, the principals of participating schools, Rukmini members and guests all get together for the final day of the summit, giving the girls a platform to showcase their talents in art, music, and dance. This platform was not only physical but also symbolic in that it was supported by new friendships, encouragement, and confidence the participating girls found in each other and through the stories they read and shared together.
They have courage and strength, not only to showcase their talents but Rukmini Foundation and the LitClub has also provided the girls with the confidence to voice their opinions and chase their dreams. Inspired by real-life heroes, supported by the camaraderie and empowered by new friendships, the HerStory summit was a brilliant success.
We would like to thank the many people who were involved in making this event possible, and a special thank you to the following individuals for their participation and mentoring that made the success of Rukmini Foundation’s 5th Annual LitClub/HerStory Summit possible:
- Mr. Mohan Basnet[Mayor of Dakshinkali Municipality]
- Mrs.Mira Maharjan [Chairperson of Dakshinkali Women Co-operative]
- Mr. Ghirvan Nath Aryal [Special guest from Rukmini Foundation]
- Mr. Shyam Bahadur Khatri [Chairperson of ward no 5]
- Mrs. Indira Lamsal [Deputy section officer of social service council from Nepal Government]
- Mr. Prakash Neupane[ Team leader of monitoring and evaluation from SWC]
- Mrs. Shova Acharya [Principal of Niharika School]
- Mr. Rajan Adhikari [Principal of Kalidevi School]
- Mr. Niroj Shrestha [Principal of Shikharapur Campus]
- Mr. Binod Mahat [Principal of Shikharapur Community School]
- Mr. Naniram Basnet [Principal of Arunodaya Secondary School]
- Mr.Bidur Bhandari [Principal of Setidevi S.S, Talku]
- Mrs. Lila Basnet [Teacher of Setidevi S.S, Sokhel]
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