Going Back Home to Celebrate a Milestone

This past month, I had the great privilege of going back to Nepal after a couple of years away. The reason for my visit was extremely special as my family was celebrating the 100th birthday of my grandfather. This is the same grandfather who is the only surviving child of my great grandmother, Rukmini, the namesake of our organization. This birthday is obviously momentous for me and my family, but it is also a celebration for the local community where I am from because he was a pioneer in education and his impact as an educator (guru) has been felt by many in the community. 

His birthday and the resulting celebration was really a celebration of the power and impact of education. While I was certainly eager to see my 100 year young grandfather and meet many family members, I was equally excited to visit with the foundation team that has been working so hard to empower girls through education. I had a few meetings with the team and we also got to visit a few schools where we observed programs, met with teachers, and got to interact with some of the students as well. In this post, I wanted to share a few of the highlights of my visit as well as a few observations for anyone who may be reading this.


Migration and earthquake recovery: I learned that migration is increasing the need for us to support even more scholars than we planned for in schools like Setidevi and Sokhhel, where families impacted by the 2015 earthquake have moved to. These schools have welcomed the new students and are doing all they can to support the students and their families, but the schools have asked for our help to provide them with scholarships, uniforms, and supplies to ensure these kids have a chance at an education. Our team is willing and ready to support these families.

The need for mental health support: Children who have migrated to the area seem to be burdened with stress and trauma that is above and beyond what other children in the area are experiencing, and we are seeing a greater need for counseling and mental health support. A caring elder sister is one thing, but our team is starting to see the need for more professional support for these issues, and we will be exploring ways to provide that.

Food security and the lunch program: At another school I visited, Setidevi – Talku, which is in one of the more impoverished areas where we work, the Principal talked about how food security is a key issue and requested our support for a meal program. The teachers have been doing things on their own to help the kids, but it is not a sustainable approach. Sadly, the local government’s funding for this type of program has also been cut back, so the kids are going hungry while trying to get an education. Having seen the positive impact that the lunch program has had at other schools, I am confident that a similar program here would help increase attendance, enrollment, and even academic outcomes. My hope is that our team can find a way to start this program for the upcoming school year, which begins after the Nepali New Year in mid-April.

Team transition and leadership: Team transition has been both a challenge and a resounding success as the new team has gelled into an amazing group of leaders. Usha deserves all the praise (and support) for being able to handle these transitions so well. She has been mentoring the new staff, managing the programs, and building relationships with the schools and the community. She is a true asset to our organization and I am grateful for her dedication and passion.

Office space and environment: The current office that the team has is not sufficient for the number of staff, and we need to look at providing a better office environment for them to do their work. The office is cramped, noisy, and lacks proper ventilation and sanitation. We are exploring options with local leaders to find a suitable space that can accommodate the team and provide them with the facilities they need.

Culture and impact: Seeing the way the students interact with our Nepal Team is nothing short of amazing. They act just like younger sisters speaking with older sisters they respect and admire. The culture we have created is remarkable. The students are confident, curious, and eager to learn. They are also grateful for the opportunities we have given them and they express their appreciation in various ways. I received many letters, drawings, and gifts from the students, and I was moved by their sincerity and warmth.


Based on my recent visit, I came back both motivated and determined. Motivated because the work being done on the ground is so important and the team doing the work is doing an absolutely fantastic job. The team of women leading the work are diligent, thoughtful, and are genuinely like older sisters to the girls they support and empower. I also came back determined to do a better job in areas like fundraising because I felt like the recent budget cuts have hamstrung the team a bit. They have been making such great strides in terms of our core programming, but also expanding to digital literacy, continuing to do great work with the day meal program, and much more. However, because of the poor fundraising over the last couple of years, we had to cut back in some areas, and the momentum that the team has generated may stall out. I am hoping that we can prevent that from happening. To that effect, I will work with our Board to:

  • Seek additional funds to support a meal program at Setidevi – Talku School.
  • Ensure that we can provide our scholarship support to the new girls who have migrated to the area recently.
  • Determine a plan of action to deal with the growing mental health challenges in the community.
  • Increase our fundraising efforts to meet the growing needs and challenges of our programs and scholars.

My visit to Nepal was beyond rewarding both from a personal and also from an organizational perspective. No matter how many times I visit a school or with our team, it is always an eye-opening and inspiring experience for me. Witnessing the impact of the programs that we are running and seeing the changes in the girls is an experience that I wish for anyone who cares about this foundation. On the flipside, seeing the challenges for our team, our girls, the teacher, the families, and the community is also important. While certainly proud of what we have achieved over the years, I know that there is still so much to do, and I have every confidence that our team is equipped to make even more magic happen. Now it is just up to our board and I personally to ensure that they have every resource at their disposal to continue to empower girls through education.

About Bibhuti

Born in Nepal, but growing up in the United States, Bibhuti Aryal has received most of his education in the US. He credits the excellent education he received through Pittsburgh Public Schools, Robert Morris University, and Carnegie Mellon University for the opportunities he has received in his life. Bibhuti earned his undergraduate degree in Information Sciences from Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh, PA, USA and then his Master's in Business Administration from Carnegie Mellon University, also in Pittsburgh. He currently works in the Information Technology field where he has had a variety of roles from Software Developer to Project / Program Manager to Consultant where he has been helping companies and organizations to make the best use of technology to help solve business problems. He has experience in various industries, such as: government, logistics, finance, insurance and engineering. However, he discovered his passion to advocate for equal access to education when he revisited his motherland of Nepal in 2011. For most of the last 9 plus years, Bibhuti has been advocating for quality education for all, especially in his country of Nepal and the communities where he was born into. He is the Co-Founder of Rukmini Foundation, an organization that empowers girls through a holistic program of education, mentoring, and health & wellness. In the US, Bibhuti also serves in his community in various roles including as the Chair of the Governor's Advisory Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs in Pennsylvania where he leads the Commission in advocating for the diverse AAPI communities in the State. Bibhuti is responsible for ensuring that the organization fulfills its mission and achieves the goals set by the board through coordination of efforts of all volunteers of the Rukmini Foundation. Bibhuti brings his years of experience in various industries like: government, construction, finance and technology along with a strong desire to initiate a positive change in the world. Away from work, Bibhuti enjoys time with his family, running, reading and trying to learn new languages.
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