Background of Roshani’s Community
Roshani comes from the Tamang family, which is one of the most underserved ethnic minorities in Nepal. She lives in Bhandarkharka village, which is not that far (about 20 miles) from the capital city, Kathmandu, but in terms of roads and services, it feels like it is very far away from the development in the capital city. The village is mostly inhabited by Tamang families. The Tamang people very rich culture and customs and also speak their own language, which is completely different from the national language, Nepali. Sadly, language has been a big barrier for Tamang students, as the medium of instruction in schools is Nepali.
Roshani’s village mostly consists of hills, so it has very limited access to roads. Women from the village have to make a long walk to fetch drinking water, and students have to walk long distances, sometimes taking hours, to go to school. Farming is the only option for most people, but it’s not enough to make a living. Farm sizes are small, and lack of water has made the farming difficult. Literacy rates are on the lower side among ethnic minorities, and there are few who have higher education and do professional jobs, like teachers. Most of the people leave the village to cities, and many young men and women go abroad looking for work.
Family and Early Years
Roshani is the first child of Sanu Kanchhi and Raju Rumba who were married at the age of 11 and 13, respectively. The young couple lived with their parents until their children were born, and as you can imagine, it was very difficult for the young parents to support the growing family in the village. Roshani’s parents left their home for Kathmandu in search of work, leaving their children in the care of their grandmother.
Luckily, Roshani’s father found a job in a hotel and her mother found sewing work for a garment store. After three years of hard work, they decided to bring their kids to the city. The parents’ inability to find a better paying job due to the lack of education made them understand and appreciate the importance of education. Thus, they admitted their two kids, Roshani and her brother to the nearby public school, Mahankal High School.
In the beginning, Roshani had difficulties mingling with other classmates and making friends. It was not easy for a village girl to get adjusted to a city school. She had problems communicating because she was not very fluent in Nepali which was the main language spoken in her classroom and indeed in most of Kathmandu. Through her dedicate, Roshani started making huge progress in her Nepali language, but a side effect was that she also started to lose her mother tongue, Tamang. Sadly, this is quite a common occurrence as it seems standard practice in schools to discourage students from speaking their native language even at their home because teachers falsely believe that it hinders them learning a new language.
Roshani was bright and very eager to learn, and she did very well in her studies. She also learned to help her mother in cooking, cleaning, and other household chores. She also had to help her brother in his studies as none of her parents were educated. In those early years, she remembers watching other children walking to school holding their parents’ hands while she and her brother walked by themselves. It would make her sad, but she understood that her parents had to work as many hours as possible to be able to send them to school. As time passed, she was already in Sixth grade and was doing well in school, and aspired to become a doctor.
The whole country felt the devastation brought by the massive earthquake of 2015, which struck many parts, but Kathmandu city was near the epi- center. Many people lost their lives. Luckily, Roshani’s family was safe for the moment, but the situation grew perilous by the hour. The building Roshani’s family stayed in became unsafe to live in, and there were no jobs at that time, and many people who came for work started leaving the city. Roshani’s family was also forced to move back to their village.
Moving back to village
Moving back to the village came with its own set of challenges. It was difficult for Roshani and her brother to adjust to the new environment. Even though they had returned to their home, they had no memory as they were so young when they moved to the city. In the village,they were admitted to Panchakanya High School, which was close to their home. Roshani had a Deja Vu moment as she encountered the same problem while making new friends. Everyone spoke Tamang dialect, which she had already forgotten. Despite some difficult adjustment, she kept her focus on learning and always came first in every test. Besides her studies, she took part in drawing competitions and participated in cultural programs and did very well. Slowly, she started to understand her native language and started making friends again. Gradually, she started loving her village life.
For her parents, it became impossible to support the family’s needs without an adequate income source. Since Kathmandu city was devastated by the earthquake, the possibility of finding a job in the city was very slim. So, Roshani’s father left the country for foreign employment. Roshani’s mother started to grow vegetables on their meager piece of land. She also started working as a farm laborer and little sewing too. Roshani helped as much as possible in the household chores. Her mother proudly says at times that she has a very understanding and responsible daughter. In school, Roshani was a hard-working student who was drawn towards Math. By now, she was questioning her aspiration of becoming a doctor and was concluding that nursing would be more fit for her.
Roshani’s experience at Rukmini
Roshani became one of the Rukmini Bahinis in the 2017 academic year. She was delighted to hear the word Bahini (younger sister) from mentors visiting them in school and home. Mentors remain in constant touch with bahini’s to provide any help they need, encourage them, and support them in their studies. Roshani loved all the programs at Rukmini and found them inspiring, informative, and fun. Like other Bahinis, the Didi program became her favorite. Listening to the story of a successful woman inspired and motivated her deeply to do something for her community.
According to Roshani, at Lit Club/ G.L.O. W. clubs, she learned valuable skills, developed confidence, discovered her inner strength and leadership ability. Now she acts as a translator and voice of her friends from the community who had difficulty understanding the language. Further, she shares the skills she has learned at the program in her community with the hope of uplifting other girls.
Becoming a Mentor
After her SEE board examination, she became a mentor of the Lit Club/G.L.O.W. Club in her school. She has successfully conducted several programs and shared her knowledge and skills to younger Bahinis. As a mentor, the most important lesson she has learned is to encourage and accept every person as they are. She feels acceptance will make any individual confident and help them become successful in life. Besides running the club sessions, she participates in programs designed to spread awareness on social issues within the community. She not only takes part in the program but also encourages her community members to attend such programs.
Our foundation team conducted different programs in the community, and one of those was playing street drama. Those short dramas were focused on the issues of early marriage, domestic violence, harmful effects of alcoholism, and the importance of educating girls. The participation of local girls in such programs made the community a little more aware about the issues. They came to talk to her about the program. As always, she explained about the purpose and the theme in detail , in their local language that left a great impact in the community. She has become the voice to her community and wants to have more programs like those in her community.
After passing the SEE (Secondary Education Examination), Roshani found that pursuing a degree in nursing was not possible for her due to time and money constraints. So, she is thinking of pursuing something else. Since, she has enjoyed running various programs in the community through the Rukmini Foundation, she has decided to study management. Currently, she is studying BBS (Bachelor of Business Studies) at Shikharapur College in Pharping, with a hope of pursuing a Banking career. With her determination and hard work, we are confident she will be successful.
Furthermore, she aspires to see and work for the positive changes in the community, which is highly commendable. She has already become the voice of her community to spread awareness and bring changes. She sees the community already going through some positive changes. Roshani has become a voice of change to her community and our Hero of the month. We can believe that girls like Roshani can lead our world.
We have fewer cases of child marriages. Women and girls understand their health issues and are eager to have checkups. Parents support their daughter’s education. Girls can speak on forbidden subjects like mensuration. They can ask their dad to bring sanitary pads for them from the market.