Our mission is to transform lives by promoting Health, Education and Women’s Empowerment. Our primary objective is to help people reach their highest potential.

Thank you so much for making our 2021 Year such an amazing success! It was heartwarming to have so much support.

In order to ensure that FONNJ’s Asha Project remains vibrant, strong and ready to offer more fabulous programs in the coming seasons, please consider making a gift today to the LEGACY CIRCLE at WWW.FONNJ.COM/DONATION.
Your generosity will be rewarded many times over as we work together, time after time, year after year to help people reach their highest potential.

A project of different scale.

Scheer Memorial Hospital is a 150-bed general community hospital at Banepa. While offering a variety of medical services, the hospital prioritizes treating women, children, and the needy.
Most of their equipment is outdated and with this $40,000 project we hope to;
1.Upgrade the emergency department and,
2.Train staff in using the new equipment.
Thanks to a Rotary grant our $3000 investment will receive a 15-fold benefit.

Computer Lab for Prisoners
In 2020, we set up two computer labs, costing $15,000, to train incarcerated people in IT. The computer project is in Dang. It is a collaboration with Dhulikhel Rotary Club.

Serving 30 years of Humanitarian Service in Nepal

The Goat Project 2020

With the Goat Project, we provide women with goats, along with plants for fodder, access to group savings & micro-credit, basic literacy, and gender equity training.
Goats are relatively inexpensive to raise. Before sale, they provide these women with milk for their children. As their herds increase, the women gift animals to others in need. Thus, they give forward their gifts from us.
We have raised $10,000 and received a grant of $43,000 from Rotary International Global which has enabled us to give 100 goats to 50 women across the district. We aim to reach 1,000 women in 10 districts by 2030.

By Numbers:
We have given micro-loans totaling $215,000 since 2002
Helped 10,000 women start businesses
Trained 1,250 in personal finance & animal husbandry
We run a Goat Farming Project in 10 districts

“Villagers will have a GIVING DAY CELEBRATION (to give forward their gift)”

Dr. Tulsi R. Maharjan


No matter how modern we become, the natural bleeding process (menstruation) in women is still considered taboo in Nepal; many students miss their school during this time. This taboo has resulted in students missing school, as well as women dying from exposure because they are forced to remain outdoors. This special project will take palces in different parts of the county.

The RotaAsha Library Project:
The RotaAsha Library Project at Dolkha Community School is a fine example of the projects we have take up. In it, we joined hands with the Rotaract Club of Sukedhara.
Dolkha is about 60 mi from Kathmandu. With our financial support, the Rotaract Clubs of Sukhedhara and Baneshore donated 1,176 books to the community school at the Hari Kirtan Basic School.

Pictures from the Library project

Indigenous Community

This year, we are helping the Dumsi Darai Village of Tanahun District with chicken farming, Covid-19 protection materials. The Darai are a marginalized ethnic group. They depend on agriculture and fishing; and suffer from low literacy and poverty.
In January 2021, we distributed 150 chicken to villagers. According to founder-chairman Dr. Maharjan, “Villagers will have a GIVING DAY CELEBRATION (to give forward their gift). This way the community will learn how caring and sharing are essential for development.”
As part of the Indigenous Community Economic Development project, we hope to distribute more chickens, develop a bee project in the village as well as promote their homestay (hospitality) business and school programs.


  • “Economic Empowerment of Indigenous Women” Projects – $2,000.00
  • Food Distribution Projects – $1,000.00
  • Library Project – $1000
  • Goat Project in Dhulikhel – $2,000.00 (Rotary Grant for $40,000)
  • Computer Project in Dang at the Prison library- $2,000 (Rotary Grant for $15,000)
  • Banepa Hospital Project $3000 (Rotary matching grant for $40,000)
  • 3 Health Projects – Helping youth group with hygiene pads and educational programs- $2,000.00
  • 100 Scholarships for minority students – $2,000.00
  • 25 schools -Distribution of books, bags and copies – $3,000.00
  • Microloan redistribution (Rotary grant $95,000)


We believe, all of us must embrace the innate source of compassion within us to make a difference in our community and in our homeland. The Asha Project’s mission is to “help the underprivileged people of Nepal to rebuild their lives and renew their hope.”

The Asha Project calls for action to bring more compassion to the forefront of our lives and provide hope and opportunities for poor in Nepal. Thanks to our LEGACY CIRCLE members for putting Altruism in Action by helping the people of Nepal.

In 2022, we are planning to conduct projects for more than $75,000 worth in Nepal to help people reach their highest potential.

You can mail your check, made payable to Friends of Nepal-NJ, to

P.O. Box 5015
Somerville, NJ 08876

Or you can pay it with the PayPal at this link

Thank you for your continued support for our projects in Nepal.

My Journey to America

By: Amrit Manjari Shrestha

My story begins on October 11th, 2011. A date that will forever be imprinted in my mind. It was a day of sadness filled with guilty joy. I had the opportunity to move thousands of miles away from my home in Kathmandu Nepal to start a new life in the well-known nation known as
the “land of opportunities,” the United States of America, to improve my well-being and lay the groundwork for my children’s future.

After landing in America, my family spent a month with family in Virginia to slowly adapt to the western world. Immediately, my first concern went toward my kids. Education is key in our household. We consider it to be the fundamental foundation of one’s life. Hence, although we had just touched ground in Virginia, we admitted our two kids into the public school in
Virginia. It is critical that I mention that this sudden move not only had impacted my husband and I but also our children. At such a young age, Prajit (10) and Pragya (7) had to leave their friends and family and adjust to a new environment they had only seen on cartoon channels.
They attended a building they didn’t know about without their parents and had to trust strangers out of the blue. Although it was heartbreaking, I could not be prouder of them now that they are both college students at Rutgers University.

We had no understanding of American soil and its people. Slowly but surely, we moved to our current residence, New Jersey. Due to the fact that there were no Nepalese around, I’d say this was a much harder move than the previous one. It finally hit me that our journey had just begun. It was hard adapting, so we were compelled to adjust to the customs and people of our neighborhood. Eventually, Dr. Tulsi Maharjan was introduced to me through my mama. Due to Tulsi Dai’s positive affirmations, I was inspired to keep pushing. I continued this journey and along the way I met several other mentors, one being Dil Krishna Shrestha. He helped me with
not only my children’s school admission but overall, my family in this rollercoaster of emotions. Tulsi Dai advised me to engage in something that would always keep me occupied; So, I began community service. First, I started off at a nearby church, where I was surrounded by older people who encouraged me to find a job. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared, mainly due to my inability to speak in English. Although I was familiar with the fundamentals, having a conversation with someone whose first language was English terrified me. However, I was aware that I needed to face this fear. As a result, I applied for a job at Dunkin’ and was fortunate to receive a call inviting me to work there. But I held back because I was afraid. After that, a friend of mine eventually coaxed me out of this fear and encouraged me to apply for a job at a nearby departmental store. I got the job and was a cashier there.

This was only the start. I made new friends and used my network to meet more people from here. I then applied for a position at a summer school. I took training classes to improve my skills and accept this acceptance, which allowed me to handle school paperwork. Since I’ve been working at the departmental store for almost 11 years and continued a career in the school field. I’ve moved up the ladder, and not once have I received any criticism about my work ethic; rather, I’ve had the chance to improve my resume.

My story hasn’t ended. I have yet to reach the top of Everest: my full potential. To the future immigrants or in general to people out there: life is hard, and you must struggle. In fact, I encourage my kids to struggle because without it they won’t know what they are capable of and how high they can reach. Life is not easy, and you cannot just sit at home expecting everything in your hands. You must work for it. At the age of forty, I continued to
strive for the best for myself as well as for my family. I moved to a nation where I had no ability to understand its culture or speak its language. Yet I was able to push through severe obstacles and be where I am today. Hence, my most important piece of advice to anyone who is doubting themselves is to stop. Regardless of age, social status, beliefs, or background, continue to push yourself and set goals for your life. Achieve them one at a time and face future obstacles when they come, do not sit and worry about their arrival.

Celebrating World Understanding Month with Rotary clubs of Hunterdon County.

In honor of the first Rotary meeting that occurred on February 23, 1905, Rotary International has designated this day as “World Understanding and Peace Day” and has selected February as “World Understanding Month.”

Rotary Clubs of Hunterdon County are collaborating to celebrate this world understanding month by signing sister club agreements, receiving state and local proclamations, adopting orphans in developing countries and also honoring long serving Rotarians with the US Presidential Lifetime Achievement Awards as well as celebrating international food festival to promote diversity.

Rotary clubs of Clinton, North Hunterdon, Flemington and Whitehouse plans to celebrate Rotary’s goal of world peace and understanding by conducing various programs and activities during February 2023 that emphasizes “understanding and goodwill as essential for world peace.”

As I reflect on this core goal of our newly created partnership, I am truly humbled by Rotary’s undertaking to affect change on a global-level through simple ideas such as education, community service, and relationship-building between individuals. Rotary’s unwavering commitment and its dedication of resources to projects such as Youth Exchange, Vocational Training Team, Global grants, are exemplary.

These and similar programs are not designed to bring an immediate return on investment but to build a foundation for the future. They are progressive as well as deliberate; they offer grassroots, long-term solution to building peace and goodwill among individual citizens. In addition, our countless joint international service projects between Rotary clubs around the world also contribute to this vital objective.

Ideas for honoring this theme came about during our club president’s monthly meeting in January 2023. We will be honoring former Rotaract member and Rotarian Nick (Nemanja Nikitovic) to receive the US President’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He will be our keynote speaker and talk about his journey from Serbia to New Jersey. Nick is former Rotaract President from 2002, who is current advisor and a fulltime professor at the same institute where he started his long journey from Serbia to America.

Nick’s STORY

Nemanja Nikitovic: My Journey from Serbia to New Jersey

The evening of special celebration will include international food, presentation from former Group Study Exchange team members, as well as presentation of several volunteer service awards and international entertainment with an International cultural and other artistic theme.

This will be a great time for our clubs to launch an international community service project, make contact with a Rotary club in another country, look into a Rotary Fellowship Exchange.

District 7475’s recent Rotary Fellowship Exchange to Nepal is a perfect example of how we can promote greater understanding.

GAP EXPERIENCE: https://wordpress.com/post/theashapro.blog/2639

As Rotarians, we promote international understanding and enjoy international friendships. Those friendships take root every time an Ambassadorial Scholar meets his or her host family or a District welcomes a Group Study Exchange Team. Such life-changing experiences broaden our worldwide commitment. We would like to invite you all to join us on February 25, 2023, to our Taste of International Food fundraising event where you have a chance to experience world travel without leaving New Jersey.

Through Rotary and its Foundation, we foster personal relationships that transcend borders and form a foundation for peace. World Understanding Month is a chance for every club to pause, plan, and promote the Fourth Avenue of Service – Rotary’s continued quest for goodwill, peace, and understanding among people of the world.
I would love to hear about how your club honored this theme. You can reach me via email at trm7510@gmail.com.

Nemanja Nikitovic: My Journey from Serbia to New Jersey

Born in Uzice, Serbia where I lived for 20 years before moving to United States. Now I live longer in the US then in Serbia. As a kid I was very interested in technology and computers as my first childhood
memory are scenes from a legendary George Lucas movie called Star Wars episode V: “The Empire Strikes Back”. I do not recall anything about my life prior to this movie theater visit during a vacation on Zlatibor mountain in January 1984. However, I clearly remember every aspect of the movie theater building, the walk back to the hotel, the snow, the smell of pine trees. Since that night I have never stopped thinking about the universe, eternal fight between good and evil, meaning of life, struggle and price one must pay to fight for what he believes in and what one holds true and important. To this day Star Wars for me remains the guide and source of philosophical questions to endlessly wonder about. By the time I got into high school my interests expanded to philosophy, theater and politics. I spent many hours playing video games with my friends and practicing and teaching self-defense. In 1998 I was accepted to University of Belgrade where I chose to study electrical engineering following in footsteps of my father and uncle. The higher education was short-lived as in March of 1999 NATO aggression on Serbia shut down much of the country’s infrastructure. It was at that time when I took on a heavy burden as a one of twelve leaders of a student-centered political organization called OTPOR! which consumed much of the following two years of my life. I learned much about politics, leadership and civic engagement. The government recognized a great threat in work we did and in what we represented so we were constantly hunted and arrested. Even though I have been detained number of times I never
gave up my mission to help Serbia eradicate all traces of socialism and deeply rooted communism that was plaguing the nation for decades. My education was on hold and apart from political involvement and my martial arts training I barely participated in anything else. After the movement successfully orchestrated removal of the Serbian dictator in October of 2000, I did not see a further purpose to OTPOR! and quit the movement in February of 2001 hoping to focus back on my education. Unfortunately the University suffered immense restructuring and many top tier professors were let go due to their political beliefs and support they gave to OTPOR! in previous years. By the time those faculty were invited back, they were already established teaching abroad and quality of instruction along
with University’s prestige was all but gone. This left me with a choice: leave Serbia in pursuit of higher education abroad or stay in Serbia and hope for better times.

I moved to US in August 2001 just two weeks before 9/11. I took on construction and landscaping jobs to support myself and I remember the phone call my mother made as the chaos in New York was unfolding. She wanted to know if I am alive not realizing that there was over 60 miles distance between me and NY. At the suggestion of my (now) wife I enrolled at RVCC to learn English and take few courses, just to see if I am still interested in attending University. The first semester at RVCC fundamentally changed my life. In October 2001, at that time an unknown student walked into my ESL class and introduced herself as a President of RVCC International Club. She invited us to join them for a meeting following Tuesday and learn about different cultures from around the world. My decision to go and check it out was one of the best decisions I ever made. It was that very Tuesday when I met Dr. Tulsi Maharjan and over the next 22 years of our countless interactions, I followed the Rotary path to this very night.

We chartered RVCC Rotaract in March 2002 with hope to grow the club and use it as a base to provide help to those in need. It was Dr. Tulsi who taught us the importance and meaning of service. His advice and guidance resonate strongly within me even to this day. Through my Rotaract presidency in 2002-2003, I learned more about leadership except, this time, the focus was not personal needs or wants but service to others. For the first time I was exposed to poverty of Nepal, Afghanistan and Ecuador and for
the first time I understood that every one of my personal hardships was just a drop in a sea for what countless individuals lived through their entire lives. I was enrolled in a challenging RVCC Engineering program juggling courses, club, and many part-time jobs I had at the time. I married Irina in August 2003 and started making plans for family. We decided to practice first so we got a dog, wonderful little Yorkie named Sophie. She lived with us for 12 years before her passing. In September 2003 after being rejected
by RVCC Tutoring Center I was hired as a teacher’s assistant by Prof. Aditi Patel. It was my first academic job, one that paved the way towards what I do today. In 2004 I added another major to my RVCC academic transcript: Mathematics. I continued to work and study hard while trying to participate in every Rotaract and Rotary event in the area. Upon my graduation in May 2005, I was elected to serve at RVCC Board of Trustees for a year. I had opportunity to learn about college operation and participate in
a search for a new college president. In 2005 Phi Theta Kappa gave me scholarship to continue my education at Montclair State University. I chose to study Pure and Applied Mathematics which I was able to complete in three semesters and move on to graduate school to NJIT to study even more mathematics. By the time I completed master’s and about half of the Ph.D. an opportunity presented itself to apply to work at RVCC. I took it as I always dreamed of going back to teach at institution that paved the road for me. In 2010 I left my teaching position at NJIT and accepted the offer to teach at RVCC Math Department. All these years I kept in touch with Rotary and Dr. Tulsi, visiting sporadic meetings and participating in events. It was the same year, 2010, when I was asked to officially join Rotary Club and become the adviser to RVCC Rotaract Club, the club that was a part of my life for almost a decade at that time.

Over the past 13 years, RVCC Rotaract grew from a small college club to an internationally recognized behemoth. Over the years we worked with dozens of clubs around the world while always paying attention to our local community and the college. We worked with friends in Nepal, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kenya, Ghana, France, Germany, Serbia, Colombia, Mexico and Canada. We helped charter and set up of Rotaract Clubs of Rutgers and Kean University and work with them on numerous projects.
We helped Rotary Clubs of Branchburg, Hillsborough, Clinton, Somerville, Whitehouse, Flemington and many more. Students had opportunity to travel nationally and internationally and represent our college and our mission in the best manner possible. Rotaract Club helped organize and host meal packing events where, in the past seven years more than 300,000 meals were shipped to those in need. 33,000 meals were shipped to Ukraine in March last year just five weeks after the conflict started. We collected school supplies for Nepalese students, fundraised and donated money to Relay for Life, Operation Smile, Toys for Tots, worked with veterans’ backpack project, organized and sorted books for local prison education program, participated in numerous road, park, beach and campus clean-ups, supported countless Rotary events while always creating new friendships, learning new skills, travelling to new locations to serve the community the best we can. I am proud to say that the vision of Dr. Tulsi is still guiding the club even though he retired 15 years ago. I am proud to say that I had a role model and a mentor to learn a great deal from. When I met him for the first time, I hoped he would help me create a karate club, instead he taught me about importance of volunteering and gave a lifetime purpose to pursue and inspire others to pursue the passion for service.

I am not the one to receive this honor. The people who made me what I am are receiving this award, my wife Irina who puts up with my frequent absences as I volunteer at events, my kids Milan and Mia who I
live for and I try to inspire and teach, my parents and my in-laws who always loved me and supported me every step of the way, my sister and her family who miss me far away on the other side of the pond,
my uncle, my dear neighbors who make the life fun and easier to manage, my dear friends and colleagues at RVCC who keep me sane, my students who inspire me to be the best teacher I can, members of my Rotary family, thank you George and Ronny for helping me realize my pedagogical
dreams, there are hundreds of names to add to this list. I owe you all for making this honor possible and I humbly ask for forgiveness that only my name is listed on it. Dr. Tulsi thank you for your guidance, inspiration, teaching, for sharing your vision, your wisdom, for opening your home to me, for providing me support when I needed it. I am honored to have you as my mentor and my friend.

To stay true to my beliefs and hopes I must say that I am not planning on bailing out. My purpose is to pass on all I learned and hopefully light more fires the way Dr. Tulsi lit the fire within me more than 20 years ago. Maria, Manny, Joel, Darek, Rafael, Gill, Shea, Anna, all of my Rotaractors, our job will never be done as the devil never sleeps. There is always someone in need, there is always a new conflict a new issue to address. Learn, work hard, volunteer as much as you can and remember to pass on at least as
much as you received. Dr. Tulsi taught me that the greatest and most valuable and non-refundable currency we have at our disposal is time and only when we invest time into something we do, we show our true care and devotion. Rotaract was and forever will be the great investment for many of us. The world gets fixed only through service above self! Thank you!


Professor “Nick” (called by his students, his actual name is Nemanja Nikitovic) to be honored by the President of the United States of America as a recipient of the “President’s Lifetime Achievement Award” for his 22 years of dedicated community service.

The purpose of this award is to honor those who have continually poured out thousands of hours of volunteer service in this country. Lifetime Achievement Award will be bestowed upon Nick for his 22 years of volunteer services. He has continually fed the poor, guided students who are struggling, offered counseling and guidance to hundreds of students.

According to Dr. Tulsi R. Maharjan, President of the Whitehouse Rotary and the Past Rotary District Governor, “He has been an inspiration to many, and we would like to celebrate the positive impact he has made in bettering our communities and the world together.”

Dr. Tulsi R. Maharjan


Nick grew up in a small town in Serbia where people were always willing to help neighbors and friends in need. He was involved in a Youth movement during the Serbian civil war in early 1998 that encouraged him to work with his college buddies to help and give back. After graduating from the high school in Serbia, the Civil war forced him to migrate to America. Nick knew he needed to get higher education. He ended up in Clinton New Jersey and that was a great cultural shock for him.

Nick’s childhood experiences with volunteering and working with youth group gave him inspiration to join the international club at a local community college where he started his English learning classes to improve his livelihood.

Regardless of his workload, his personal life and other obligations, Nick took time to join the club and try to help those who needed help.  Now some of his students have graduated from local universities and working in high level positions including an engineer at the Boeing company.

He was 2nd President of the Rotaract club at the Raritan Valley Community College in 2002. He volunteered as a mentor through the Rotaract club to help other students from many different countries.

Even on weeks when he is working 70+ hours, Nick took time to mentor his students and explore New Jersey and beyond together. His students are still in constant contact with him.


I was very fortunate to grow up in a household where I was well supported and encouraged to chase after the dreams and goals, I had set for myself. I hope that through my volunteer experiences I can provide these same experiences for the youth in the community in whichever way they may need. 


My early training as a Rotaract officer and attending many Rotaract conferences prepared me to take this role as an advisor at the college.  Soon after joining the college in 2001, I met Dr. Tulsi Maharjan, who guided me along the way. I am thankful for his guidance and care. When I came back to teach after receiving my master’s degree and started working at the College where I started my life, I instantly, wanted to help those who needed help. I knew it was something I wanted to do and passionate about. Because, I got started with the Rotaract.


My experience with Rotaract has been rewarding to know I’ve made a difference in my Rotaract members’ life. He has expressed that the program is welcoming change for him, not only to learn about new students, but also as a space where he can forget about the stressors in his life and enjoy the company of other students from around the world and knowing that I have been able to help others that for him is very rewarding experience. 


Through my 10 years of experiences with Rotaract, I’ve developed leadership and relationship skills. I’ve grown as a person by working with students from around the world. What’s so wonderful is that I also learn being able to share their life experiences with me, which helps me broaden my perspectives and become a more compassionate person. 


As my students prepares to finish community College and start Universities experience, I’m excited to stay in touch through their transition and provide any guidance they may need. I plan on being there for them even though they are not around. With the help of internet and zoom, we are in touch with them to get their progress report and it is heartwarming to know that they are succeeding in their plans.  


I think it is important for others to get involved because you never know how much the actions you take can influence others in the community. Volunteering is such a rewarding experience; you can meet new people, and oftentimes you learn and grow through the process as well. 


I hope people recognize all the benefits that come from volunteering with Rotary and Rotaract.

Involving in Rotaract and Rotary has been a great experience for me, I have met people from around the globe and I hope this encourages anyone who has been interested to take that step to get involved! 


I have just joined the Youth Leadership Team of the Rotary and the Friends of Nepal to make a difference in our community and communities around the world.

It has been great pleasure to be a part of the Youth Leadership Team and work with the NJ Peace Garden project and learn leadership skills. This leadership project will definitely help me in the future as I graduate from the high school and apply to various colleges.

I am very thankful that I have been given a leadership role to plan and implement “Be a Net Zero HERO” a special Peace Garden Project. As in any project, you need people to help with funding, human resources, and materials to make it successful.

For those who may not know, let me tell you a little about this amazing project. We are creating this special interfaith Peace Garden, where people of all faiths can come and learn about other religions and be at peace, while strolling through the garden. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn about leadership as well as use my skills to make this garden a piece of heaven on earth. Well, that is a tall order, but I am going to give my best.

This project is taking place at the NJ Buddhist Vihara in Princeton, New Jersey. The person who came up with this idea is Dr. Tulsi Maharjan, Past Rotary International District Governor and Chair of the Somerset County Diversity Coalition and the Asha Project. He has been an excellent mentor and has really shown me a lot.

As part of this project, I will be working with a diverse group of Youth leadership team members along with my brother.

This project will focus on promoting peace and preserving the environment. With your blessing and support, I hope to create a peaceful place where visitors can find peace and tranquility in this time of world conflict and environmental degradation. This will be a place where people from every faith, no matter their ethnicity or faith, can come and learn about diversity and enjoy peaceful environment.

I hope all my friends and our community will be an integral part of this amazing project. You can donate whatever you can and mail the check payable to FONNJ and mail it to P.O. Box 5015, Somerville, NJ 08876 or donate through PayPal. All donations are tax deductible. https://www.fonnj.com/donate/

If you like to dedicate a tree in your family’s name, we can do that as well.

Working with the Coalition, Rotary and my new friends from the Leadership team has already given me the opportunity to learn about the rapidly changing world. I am finding that giving is much better than receiving and with your support I will be able to prove my leadership skill and complete this amazing Peace Garden Project.

The tree planting project will take place starting in April as part of the Earth Day Celebration on April 23rd and continue until May 13, 2023, during the Buddha’s birthday celebration. We are planning to plant 100 trees. This project provides numerous benefits in addition to being essential for the environment. Trees contribute to better air quality, lessen erosion, and support wildlife habitats. Furthermore, trees can aid in supplying residents and animals of a community with shade and shelter.

This collaborative partnership project between the Friends of Nepal – New Jersey, the Rotary club of Whitehouse and the Somerset County Cultural Diversity Coalition, will help to generate additional support and volunteers.

The goal of this initiative is to establish a peaceful and friendly environment where individuals of all faiths can go to walk, practice meditation, and achieve inner peace.

The meditation garden and walk will be situated in a lovely and calm area of the neighborhood, surrounded by tranquility and nature. Along with walking trails and seating spots, it will have a variety of plants and flowers.
We believe that the community will benefit significantly from this project in a positive way. It will give everyone a much-needed place to discover tranquility and quiet in a hectic and often stressful world. Given that it will be accessible to all, it will also aid in fostering respect and acceptance among people of different religious beliefs.

We look forward to this project’s completion and the advantages it will bring to the neighborhood. It’s just one more way our Youth Leadership team trying to change the world for the better.
It has been a truly pleasant experience for me to work with new friends from this Youth Leadership Team. I’ve not only been able to have a beneficial influence on the globe, but I’ve also gained some incredible friends. I am very grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this incredible organization, and I can’t wait to see the impact we can have together.

If anyone like to be a part of this team to make a difference in our community, please consider joining the team by visiting https://www.fonnj.com or emailing us at fon.newjersey@gmail.com

Please see our before and after Peace Garden project photos below.

Written by Aavash Lamichhane

Why We Should Celebrate Nepal Day in New Jersey?

By: Pragya Shrestha, Youth Leadership member.

It is essential to keep in mind the roots from which Nepalese have grown in order to ensure that subsequent generations can enjoy and continue the same beautiful lifestyle. It’s easy for minorities like Nepalese people to forget their primary ancestral cultures and homeland when they live in the United States, a country full of unique people from different backgrounds. Therefore, it is crucial to gather to carry on cultural and traditional events. These events assist us in separating our physical differences from one another and reuniting us as a result of our fundamental values. An event like Nepal Day in Edison, New Jersey not only strengthens the Nepalese community but will also help the town become known for respecting and supporting the development of other ethnic groups living in the United States.

On this day, people from a variety of ethnic groups—the Chetri, the Newar, the Gurung, the Brahman, the Tamang, the Rai, the Tharu, the Limbu, the Magar, and the Sherpa, and many more—would display themselves in their traditional form. This could mean adhering to the customs that have always been followed, such as the Newars’ tapalan and suruwa (long shirt and trousers) for men and the haku parsi (black saree with red and white borders) for women—or bringing their traditional dishes, such as momo, also known as dumplings. While these conventional items may only be an object to some, the Nepalese community places a high value on them. For instance, Nepalese people view momo not only as a dish but also as a meal that brings families together; Everybody works together and contributes meat mixer, dough maker, meat applicator, and folder. Without the dough maker, the momo would not be made, implying that the family would not be complete without one member, thereby demonstrating the deeper significance of seemingly innocuous things. Despite the fact that everyone seems to be concentrating on making the momo, the laughter and conversations heard throughout the session demonstrate this concept of how a small act can have a larger effect. Because of this, the Nepalese value their customs and cultures highly because they represent their core values. New bonds are formed, and fundamental values are reinforced when Nepalese people gather to celebrate their lives. Similarly, Nepal Day is not just a typical day; rather, it is a day when people celebrate their heritage and identity by participating in a variety of cultural and traditional activities and showcasing their proud heritage to New Jersey’s melting pot.

Name Census, a site with U.S. demographic information from governmental sources, states the Nepalese community in the United States has grown rapidly. The data shows the growth of the community from the year 2015 to 2020: 59,467 individuals. By 2025, it is anticipated that there will be 222,460 Nepalese living in the country. With this knowledge of the rapid growth of Nepalese in the United States, the significance of creating a close-knit community becomes even more apparent. It is crucial that we immediately introduce these newcomers to the established strong Nepalese community as they join in order to make them feel more at home. Even though this society is open to new ideas, some people still have their own opinions. As a result, it is simple to be influenced by this behavior and forget your motherland. For this reason, by celebrating Nepal Day with those with whom they share similarities, these people will be motivated to continue their ancestral cultures and traditions as they will realize that they are not the only ones here with a unique set of backgrounds and that there are people like them. Getting together to share a common interest is not only a way to pass it on to future generations or get others to join in, but it also gives you a sense of who you are. 

We, the Nepalese community, would like to submit a request expressing our desire to welcome newcomers and be persistent in keeping the interests of our meaningful historical heritage alive as well as promoting our proud heritage in the State of New Jersey and beyond.

Nepalese community members’ statement on why we should celebrate Nepal day in New Jersey? 

Roshan Karmacharya – President (Friends of Nepal NJ)

“No matter where we live or travel, our identity travels along with us. It is very important for oneself to carry and to be proud of who they are and where their roots are from whether it be their gender, race, or culture. That’s what one will be comfortable in and live happily.  

Most of our Nepalese community people are the first generation living in the USA and struggling to preserve or transfer such identity to the next generation by different means and in different smaller groups. This brings low confidence in the community as no one knows how big and vibrant the Nepalese community is and can be. 

The Nepal Day parade project will be a stepping stone in that context. This project will encourage and promote different Nepalese organizations to spread this word so that all Nepalese, American Nepalese, and Friends of Nepal can come together and celebrate this day. I am so excited by this project initiation and thinking how vibrant and colorful will it be when all castes and cultures from the Nepalese community come together to show their costume, food, music, and their culture.”

Menuka Udas and Manish Karna 

“In our personal opinion, there are two ways Nepal Day can be remembered. First, Nepal is a multicultural country. People from different geographic regions within Nepal make it a perfect garden. Similarly, the US is also a diverse nation. People from different parts of the world live here in harmony. As we co-exist with each other, sometimes we forget who we are and our roots. An event like Nepal Day in NJ will bring all Nepalese to one place. It will give us an opportunity to appreciate the Nepalese culture that we have been preserving here in the US while also showcasing it to people from other countries. It will be an event to inform/learn about our co-existence as well as acknowledgment of the diversity and inclusion in the US culture/society.

Second, Nepalese people living in the US are from different geographical regions of Nepal. Most of them don’t know about each other even though our roots are the same. Events like Nepal Day will help connect us and help us learn the different dynamics of our Nepal culture. Professional Nepalese can network and help other fellow Nepalese or become a resource to each other. Each of us can get inspired by people who have been making a difference in the community. By honoring them, we can acknowledge their impact on the US Nepali community and also back home in Nepal. For these two reasons, we must do an event to honor and dedicate to our roots.

Amrit Manjari Shrestha

“When I moved to the United States in 2011, I had only two wishes: the development of my children’s futures and the acceptance as immigrants. As a mother of two children, my immediate concern is for their well-being, happiness, and the overall outcomes of their future. As a result, I’ve done things and will continue to do so in the hope that they’ll move up the ladder. However, I encountered difficulties as I attempted to fulfill my two wishes. The physical first: my accent. As I lived in Nepal for more than forty years and spoke Nepali as my first language, it was hard for me to truly express myself without getting looked at. Then came my knowledge of certain things. I found it odd that I was expected to know these various western world terms right away: what each holiday and custom meant, and what slang meant when I was just starting to learn about them. However, I accepted it and respected them. But it seemed as though some did not care about my culture or point of view. As a result, I struggled to fully express myself and my culture not because I was ashamed but due to the fear of being judged unfairly for displaying this image. I was worried that my family would suffer. But then I met Tulsi Dai and several other Nepalese folks that welcomed me into a warm community. I was able to truly accept who I was because of the Nepali community, where I felt at ease and saw that other people were in situations that were similar to mine. I brought my culture outside of this community and displayed it to my coworkers, friends, and family members through the work of different Nepalese food, holidays like Dashain, and outfits. There is more to the story, and it has significantly impacted my future choices as well as my desire to teach my children and others about Nepali culture. Nepal Day in New Jersey needs to be celebrated so that immigrants like us can easily accept their culture, be proud of it, and fully express themselves regardless of what people think of them. Nepalese culture and customs are unique and beautiful, and our people are one of a kind. Because it is made up of so many historical events and takes us back to our roots, we need to work together to preserve our culture and traditions. These things are very important for Nepalese communities as they will contribute to future generations. People coming together to celebrate this day will influence the growth and sense of pride towards Nepalese culture.”

Menuka Udas: Passion; Commitment and Leadership

Interview by: Ms. Pragya Shrestha

What is your involvement in the Nepalese community?
Menuka Udas: In order to expand the Nepalese community, I try to connect people. I am laying the groundwork for the Nepalese community so that we can unite cultures to inspire and be inspired by one another. On top of that, I am also contributing/volunteering to community services and trying to lead the community’s growth.

Why are you passionate about preserving Nepalese culture?
Menuka Udas: In addition to celebrating various holidays like Dashain and Tihar, Nepalese culture should equally be addressing controversial issues like the significance of women’s rights, the abolition of caste differences, and the “hidden” aspects of society as a whole. Even though I am a citizen of the United States, Nepal will always be in my heart. Despite our distinct physical characteristics, we are all Nepalese. We ought to be familiar with our homeland, or roots, wherever we go in the world. It’s not about me disliking other cultures but my desire to express my culture. Having said that, I started slowly at first. My primary source of inspiration was Dr. Tulsi Maharjan. His dedication to the community, made me want to dedicate my time to advocate for not only the Nepalese community but the global humanitarian crisis. My kids are an additional motivation for this interest of mine. Marcus, my firstborn, did not speak Nepali when he was in the first grade. It wasn’t that we didn’t try to teach him, but he hesitated to learn because he was young. However, one day he came home and asked me out of the blue why he cannot speak two languages. He reached this point on his own, and I never forced him to. He was inspired in a way. Hence, this makes me satisfied with what I am doing: inspiring at least one person. Every day, people from these non-Nepalese cultures embrace their Italian, Irish, Polish, and Indian heritage. So why can’t we?

How and when did you start thinking about preserving Nepali culture?
Menuka Udas: Once I fulfilled my basic needs, I started to meet different people and was in awe of how they preserved their culture. Then I met Dr. Maharjan, who himself is a book in my opinion and as I started to learn about him and his work, I was impressed. Then, I began to explore the idea of preserving Nepali culture but one step at a time. When I had my first child, I wanted to show him the beautiful culture that his parents have, and he belongs to that culture as well. However, only my demonstration of affection for Nepali culture was not enough and hence, I started getting involved with Nepali events so that my children can learn these from their childhood. I want my children to be proud US citizens as well as respect all cultures while preserving their proud Nepali culture and heritage.

When I had my first child, I wanted to show him the beautiful culture that his parents have, and he belongs to that culture as well. However, only my demonstration of affection for Nepali culture was not enough and hence, I started getting involved with Nepali events so that my children can learn these from their childhood. I want my children to be proud US citizens as well as respect all cultures while preserving their proud Nepali culture and heritage.

Menuka Udas

When and why did you come to America?
Menuka Udas: I came to the US in 2007 as a student. Although I would like to claim that I came to promote my culture, my primary objective, like that of many others, was to pursue my career. But after I got settled in: After getting married and having kids, I began my journey in the Nepalese community.

How can we promote and preserve Nepalese culture in America?
Menuka Udas: I believe we are lucky to be in the US where we co-exist with people from other countries and cultures. We can see who they are and learn from them about their cultures as well. Similarly, in turn, we should also include them in our tradition and explain to them what we do and the reason behind our festivals/traditions. This knowledge sharing creates bonds/respect between different community people. Our second generation is completely different as they were born in a completely different environment. We grew up playing with our cousins and with big/joint families whereas these kids cannot spend unlimited time with their cousins. Mostly they have holed up with their parents and siblings and maybe some school friends. Generally speaking, they know only a few festivals and that makes me feel that we need to teach/inspire our second generation about our roots. To avoid losing Nepal’s beautiful history, everyone needs to connect and share their wisdom. For that, first generation people must be willing to collaborate with each other and with other communities. Apart from our Nepali community, we must include people from different cultures and share/involve them in our traditions (if they are interested). As Americans have embraced us, we must be willing to embrace others as well in order to promote our culture and traditions. We must be dedicated to keeping the traditions alive by participating in and celebrating them. Although I am aware that doing these things takes time, not everyone can accomplish what they want. However, having faith and performing small gestures from our tradition/culture will help go long way in promoting the Nepali community.

What accomplishment are you most proud of, and why?
Menuka Udas: I’m very content both professionally and academically. Learning never ends and I am always ready to learn new things and will continue to do so. However, being able to inspire other people, feels more rewarding. I do not need big accomplishments to be proud, every small thing which brings peace, and joy to me is what matters most to me. When my son says, “Mama, I am so proud of you, you are doing this for the Nepalese community,”. That is a big accomplishment because he knows that there are people in the world, who do not have access to the things that he has. He is always ready to volunteer whenever anyone asks him (he is still small to initiate himself). He was impressed when I distributed school supplies to students in Nepalese schools and saw their smiles. In 2021, Marcus received the Presidential Gold Award for Volunteer Service. I’m proud of things like this because I feel like I’m making a difference. Having said that, I am still learning and developing.

As you have lived in Nepal, and now living in the US, and being a part of the Nepalese community, do you think that there is a significant difference between building a community here and building a community back in Nepal?
Menuka Udas: Of course. The mentality. When you’re home, you’re not going to care as much as you would when you’re away. Hence, being in the states, you miss your culture and want to embrace it more because it is unique and different. Back in Nepal, we lack the connection like here in the US. For instance, if we met in public in Nepal, you would be just another ordinary Nepalese person and we probably wouldn’t have known each other. However, because Nepalese people are uncommon here, if I see you, I would definitely approach you. There is more interest.

Do you see a shift in the new generation in regards to being closer to their culture?
Menuka Udas: Of course. As I am involved more and more in the Nepali community, I am seeing the changes in the next generation. They are keen on learning about their Nepali culture/tradition. Maybe as they grow, they try to find out about their roots and that makes them more curious. These kids have so much to learn. They are surrounded by two cultures, not just one. Yes, the older generation has much more knowledge, but the youth are learning. In fact, there were few children when I first arrived. However, the Nepalese youth team is now present, and it is clear that they are more enthusiastic and aggressive in building their community. These young people are the future. I am extremely proud of this generation’s strong Nepalese upbringing in the United States. I feel at ease knowing that people will continue to care for the community and will keep our Nepali tradition alive.

Your kids are being brought up in America with a strong Nepalese background, what is one piece of advice that you would leave behind to them or in general to future generations of Nepalese and why?

I was never forced to love Nepal, nor did I ever force anyone. All my passion came from the heart because I wanted to leave a footprint in the world. I want to remind my kids, and the future generation that Nepal isn’t the only country they should advocate for; the United States of America is also home to them. Be sincere. Make both cultures known. Make each nation proud. Don’t give up. Try to do something better for the world.

Menuka Udas

Interview by: Ms. Pragya Shrestha

Partnership with Purpose

Helping SAMATA SCHOOL in Nepal

It was wonderful to see how Nepalese community groups coming together to make a difference in the lives of those who are less fortunate than us. On Wednesday, November 16th, 2022, seven organizations came together to help the Samata School in Nepal to raise more than $10,000 for the school foundation.

It was a Wednesday night and my parents asked me if I wanted to attend a Nepali program. Me being the curious guy I asked what the program was about, and they said it’s a Nepali Samata school event. Then I thought to myself it seems interesting why not attend.

Samata School is a community school where students from nursery to 10th grade pays Rs.100 per month which is less than $1 a month.

It was quite overwhelming to see more than 200 people packed in a small restaurant. Organizers had not expected to see that many people since it was planned only week before. This is what I call partnership with purpose.

Our Youth Leadership Team members were also recognized at this event for their many hours of community service work. If any young people want to join the Youth Leadership Team, a joint project of the Friends of Nepal-NJ and Rotary International’s Interact club, you can contact fon.newjersey@gmail.com.

The history of how this SAMATA SCHOOL started and how it is helping young people to get higher education is very interesting. You can join their Facebook group and see how they are making a difference in Nepal. https://www.facebook.com/SamataSikshaNiketan100RsBambooSchoolNepal/

After hearing their presentation, I decided to join the Youth Leadership Team to help make a difference in our community and communities around the world. I am very glad that I attended this event, even it was a school day next morning.

I found the presentations were inspirational, I saw how these amazing people are helping schools, students, and poor people in Nepal. I was interested right away to help anyway I can. After the presentation we talked with some friends and then left. In the car, I asked how I could help the Nepali community here and Nepal. My dad then told me about the Friends of Nepal-NJ and their three decades of humanitarian work in Nepal. How they have completed more than one million dollars’ worth of projects and how I could volunteer with the organization to gain leadership experience. I can’t wait to volunteer and help out the Nepalese community.

FONNJ & ROTARY international collaboration and its Impact

FONNJ had also honored Samata school Founder and Advisory Board members during their USA-Nepal Humanitarian Award ceremony in Nepal.

The key to creating successful partnership with purpose is to work together and having similar mission and purpose to impact our community. When we work together with a similar purpose, we can make a difference”.

Dr. Tulsi R. Maharjan, Founding President of the FONNJ

Aavash Lamichhane contributed part of the story for this article. Thank you, Aavash,

The Asha Project

Providing Hope and Opportunities for the last three decades.

By Aavash Lamichhane is a Youth Leadership Team member who wants to pursue a computer since degree when he graduates high school.

I have always been passionate about giving back to my community and changing the world as a teenager. I knew I had to become involved, as soon as I learned about the Friends of Nepal – New Jersey’s Youth Leadership Volunteering opportunity, I joined the group. Here is my first observation of the Asha Project’s three decades of service in Nepal.

The Asha Project (a joint FONNJ and Rotary project) has been providing hope and opportunities to thousands of poor people of Nepal for the last 32 years. The organization was founded by a group of Nepali community people in New Jersey who wanted to make a difference in the lives of the poor people in Nepal by providing access to education, health and microcredit and other community development projects.

One way that the Asha Project is making a difference is by providing scholarships to Nepali students who may not have the financial resources to pay for their education. These scholarships are funded by donations from individuals and organizations around the world, and even a small donation of just $100 can have a significant impact on the life of a Nepali student. With access to education, Nepali students are able to gain the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in their studies and pursue their career goals. This, in turn, can lead to greater economic opportunity and improved quality of life for both the individual student and their community.
The Asha Project not only offers scholarships to Nepali students, but it also provides them with mentorship opportunities, educational resources, and other forms of support. These tools can assist students in gaining the knowledge and self-assurance they need to succeed in their studies and realize their objectives.

The Ash Project offers educational resources and a scholarship program, but it also has a special program like Goat and chicken projects. By giving goats and chicken to families in need, this program aims to give Nepali families a stable source of income and nutrition. The goats are able to supply a consistent supply of milk, which can be consumed by the family or sold. The goats can also give birth to children, which can be used as a source of extra income or kept as food.