After mentoring more than 100 Bahinis, teaching many more adult women to read and write, and working for more than a decade with the foundation, Pramila Didi is ready for the next chapter in her life. Even a mere summary of her accomplishments reads like a lifetime achievement. Yet, she is just getting started.
Pramila Gajmer started working with the Foundation in October 2011 when the foundation began supporting girls’ education in Nepal. Mentoring is one of our Three-prong approaches to empowering underprivileged girls through education. Paying for the school tuition was not enough to ensure that girls from homes where most parents could not read or write would complete high school. In the beginning, many parents needed awareness of the value of educating their girls. The girls in school needed constant support and encouragement to study and stay in school. Thus, we had mentors (Didis) ready for that role. Pramila was one of the mentors ready to mentor the first ten girls we started supporting. Her primary role as a mentor was to help the girls with their studies, listen to their problems, and try to help them as older sisters do. Sometimes she had to visit their homes to see how they were doing, speak with their parents, and encourage them to keep them in school and give them time to study at home. Engaging parents was necessary because some parents think that their daughters learn in school all day, so, at home, they have to help with household work.
Pramila was born and raised in Pharping, so she was familiar with the situation of girls in rural areas around Pharping. At that time, she was a young girl studying 11th grade in a local school in Pharping. Being a young student from an underprivileged community, she could easily relate to the situation of the girls in the Rukmini program. She grew up with the foundation refining her mentoring skills. During her time with us, she served more than 100 young girls who came to our program and did very well in her role as Didi. She learned the value of education more while mentoring young girls. She continued her education while working with the foundation. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from local Shikharapur Community College and later joined the Master’s program at Padma Kanya College in Kathmandu.
She also taught women in Mom’s Club to read and write. She grew up learning various skills and used those skills to encourage and help all younger Bahinis. She worked very hard mentoring young girls in many communities and continuing her education side by side. She completed her Graduate Program and became the first girl to attain a Master’s degree from her community.
After working for more than a decade, she is moving on with her life. She is getting married and starting a new life.
Last May, when I was visiting Nepal, I was lucky to attend the farewell program for Pramila organized by our staff. Interestingly, the short program was on May 7, two days before her wedding. The program was like a family affair and very casual. When everyone arrived, we started with small talk, mainly about Pramila’s wedding. Pramila invited all of us to her wedding and joked, “not to look prettier than me” at her wedding. We all congratulated her on her marriage and earning a Master’s degree.
Usha Adhikari described Pramila as one of the pioneer mentors of the Rukmini Foundation, working from the beginning and growing up, gaining various experiences. She mentioned Pramila as a friendly, helpful, and always pleasant person.
Sabina Bisunke, a childhood friend who grew up together and studied at the same school, described her time spent with Pramila and the experiences she shared were very precious. Aasha Poudel said that she found energetic vibes from Pramila Didi, who was always ready to support us, Didis and Bahinis. She worked well with Bahinis because she understood their feelings. Apsara Adhikari said, “I mostly go to Home Visits with Pramila, who shares so many ideas about how to approach Bahinis and their families. Her ideas show a great deal of experience that makes our work easier”. Usha Poudel said that when she meets Bahinis, they ask about Pramila Didi, which shows her deep connection with Bahinis. She expressed her best wishes for her life. Sirjana Waiba said that she was very impressed by Pramila Didi when she was a scholar (Bahini). Pramila Didi made her so comfortable talking that she started to share her feelings with her.
Some team members were very emotional while speaking about Pramila, which made Pramila more emotional. We gifted her a picture frame containing a photo collage of Pramila and the Team with words of appreciation and signed by all. Pramila looked very happy with the gift.
At the end, Pramila thanked all for making her feel so special. She said, “I learned many things everyday since I came to Rukmini. I spent a long time here and I feel Rukmini as my second family. The knowledge and experience I gained from here will be my valuable assets that I can use in my life. Such kind words made me feel that I have gained much more than I expected, I have earned so many friends”.
We all are thankful to Pramila as she was one of the core members of the Rukmini Foundation’s development. Her contribution to the foundation in successfully carrying out one of our core components -” Supportive Mentoring” has made our work successful. I am so happy to see one of the girls from our community mature with us and become able to help so many young girls. On behalf of more than 100 Bahinis, we express our sincere gratitude for her long service at the foundation. We wish you all the best. Thank you Pramila Didi for the legacy of mentoring you have created.