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 2022 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.

Special Projects.

Environmental Projects

Serving 32 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.

CHANGE MAKERS – Ritee Karmacharya

Parents name: Roshan and Sajina Karmacharya

School Activities at the school:

Track, Asian American Club, Red Cross Club, National Honors Society, English and Math honors society, Journalism

Community Activities and support:

FONNJ Youth Leadership team member and volunteering with the Peace Garden and writing articles about FONNJ activities.


art, writing

Future plans?
I’m still figuring out what I want to do, but I hope to study something along the lines of engineering in my future.

Q. What do you believe are three keys to being a good citizen?

Three keys to being a good citizen are not only being responsible and respectful, but also giving back to the community by taking care of it.

Q. What piece of advice that you have received that has made a difference in your life?
Once, a good friend of mine said to me “it’s only awkward if you make it awkward.” This has always stuck to me because after that, I started seeing things from a different perspective like talking to new people and doing things outside of my comfort zone. I feel more comfortable and confident in holding conversations and talking to new people now, after taking the advice and not being awkward or afraid to talk to someone. It’s good to just be natural and be yourself.

Q. Who is your favorite teacher?
My favorite teacher is Mr. Goodman-my physics teacher. Though a challenging class, my teacher always finds ways to have fun and keep it interactive.
Q. What is your favorite community program?
My favorite community program would be FONNJ since I love participating in all our events and helping the Nepali community come together.

Q. How have you tried to make your school/community a better place?
I try to make my community a better place by volunteering and helping out in my community, whether it’s cleaning gardens or collecting food for food drives.
Q. What accomplishment are you most proud of, and why?
An accomplishment I personally feel most proud of is coming to America and performing well not only education wise but also socially and emotionally. I feel proud to have made it this far and do this well in my life, made friends and family that are so supportive along the way, and I plan to keep bettering myself.

Celebration of Life and Legacy of Mr. Siddhi Man Singh Basnyat

No tribute could ever come close to adequately describing Siddhi Man Singh Basnyat’s achievements and accomplishments.

Your story is the greatest legacy that you will leave to your friends. It’s the longest-lasting legacy you will leave to your heirs. —Steve Saint

Siddhi Man Singh Basnyat, was a legend of Nepal. My Uncle (MaMa) was a Director of the Shikhar Insurance Company Limited, Former Deputy General Manager, Rashtriya Beena Sansthan, Former General Manager, Sagarmatha Insurance Company, Managing Director, NB Insurance Company.

As part of my undergraduate Economic study, I spend one summer working with him at the Ratriya Beema Sansthan in Kathmandu. During that time, I had opportunity to learn about his life and contribution he had made in Nepal. But during each visit to Nepal, I would make sure to visit him and get his blessings and listen his new jokes. He would say “May god bless you Bhangababu, it is so nice for you to visit the Oldman”.

The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it. —William James

My MaMa was a mentor, friend, husband, father and grandfather— he lived a life of many roles and with many talents including his charming smile and corny jokes.

As author Peter Strople said “Legacy is not leaving something for people. It’s leaving something in people”.

Peter Strople

His family and friends remember him as a gentle soul who enjoyed telling jokes, smoking 555 cigarette and very dear friend of the Johnnie Walker. Every time, we met we had some social drink and talked about everything and anything.

All my friends call him MaMa (Uncle) as well, that is a typical Nepalese gesture of respect. In Nepalese culture my uncle becomes my friends’ uncle as well. That is one nice thing about Nepalese culture, I like, RESPECT for elders.

Born in Old Baneshowr, Kathmandu, Nepal, MaMa would ultimately become one of the most beloved and well-respected persons in Kathmandu. He was the pillar of his community and friends and family. Among other responsibilities fulfilled, he served on many profit and non-profit organizations as a board member. Known for his excellence in Insurance Business in Nepal, he was respected by all.

The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith. —Billy Graham

While his notoriety was great and his accolades numerous, for many in his community, he was a mentor and wise advisor of his pack, helping everyone who needed help. Approachable and authentic, he was available to his friends, family and community people to help anyway possible. He walked through this world with exceptional grace, strength, and wisdom. His friends and family were his preoccupation, the communities were his family, the world was his stage. He travelled the world with his insurance business.

Thank you for your prayers for his family and friends and especially for his two sons, Rajendra and Bijendra.

May you rest in eternal peace COMPASSIONATE and funny MaMa. We will miss your jokes and having social and enjoyable drink with you.

In memory of him and to keep his legacy alive, our family will be setting up a special scholarship for poor children in Nepal, maybe with this scholarship, we can educate and produce another Siddhi Man, who is kind, gentle and compassionate just like him.

33 Years of HOPE Celebration

and Volunteer Recognition

By: Samantha Waldron, Vice President, Whitehouse Rotaract club.

Thank you to everyone for this US President’s Volunteer award. I am absolutely honored to be the Vice President of Rotaract NJ Whitehouse and to work on these projects all year round.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are the critical components and core values of social impact, rather than peripheral tasks, to ensure a just and equitable world where our social group identities do not predict our life outcomes. At Rotary, we understand that cultivating a diverse, fair, and inclusive culture is essential to realizing our vision of a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change. By fostering creativity, fresh perspectives, and understanding, we are breaking barriers and unlocking significant knowledge in the minds of forward-thinking pioneers who can solve the world’s most challenging intersectional obstacles.

Exposure to environmental harms is unequal; disadvantaged communities are subject to disproportionately higher environmental and public health stressors, including pollution from numerous industrial, commercial, and governmental facilities located in those communities. As a result, they suffer from increased adverse health effects.

The Native Rain Garden of Interfaith Peace is a bioretention carbon sink that treats polluted surface runoff by increasing rain infiltration and reabsorption of water into the soil while simultaneously being an intersectional project advocating for religious understanding and peace. This venue for non-profit projects and activities provides an inclusive environment where everyone can appreciate the natural environment.

As an Environmental Remediation Scientist and Rotary volunteer, this project is one of the most valuable, measurable, and attainable solutions to help the local community and the planet. This project is just the beginning of my involvement with this branch of Rotary, and I look forward to many more projects for many more years.

Thank you, everyone, for sustaining our initiatives to support education, mental and physical health, community services, and social impact. Every day is a beautiful opportunity to make a positive impact, and with your continued help, together, we will attain world peace.

Thank you to everyone, including:

Raritan Valley College, Rotary & Rotaract club of Whitehouse, Rotary Clubs of Hunterdon County, Friends of Nepal New Jersey, Somerset Cultural and Diversity Coalition, And all of you

Tulsi Maharjan, Suresh Shrestha,Roshan Karmacharya,Kabina Singh,Menuka Udas,Om Sachdev,Manish Karna,Aavash Lamichhane,शरद जोशी,Aaliya Chhetri,Nima T Sherpa,Rashmi Uprety,Shraddha Prasai,Shalu,Kishor Tripathi,Sanjay Ag,Prakriti Neupane,Binita Shrestha,Manny Ramirez

Please tag everyone!!!

Rotary International

RotaryDistrict7475 Peace Celebration

Rotary Community Corps

Rotaract Club of Whitehouse

Rotary Young Professionals of Sussex County

Rotaract Rudramati

Rotaract Gorkha

Rutgers Rotaract

United Way

Rutgers Rotaract Club – New Brunswick

Fon New Jersey

Asha Nepal


Rutgers New Brunswick

President Joe Biden House#environmental#water#environment#health#education#publichealth#project#thankyou#community#people#opportunity#diversity#inclusion#help#culture#creativity#socialimpact#change#projects#bias#dei#diversity#inclusion#equity#respect#nativeplants#letter#president#uspresident#biden #PresidentBiden #volunteer #volunteering #medal #honor #awards #humanitarian #Nepal #worldwide #connection

Opportunity to service in Nepal 2019 trip to Nepal – reflection.


“I truly believe in the work ASHA PROJECT is doing in Nepal, they are making a huge impact in Nepal, not only with the services and support they provide, but also with the inspiration and education they provide to youth all over Nepal to make a difference and change our world for the better. ASHA PROJECT is helping to create a true global citizen.” –


Menuka Udas – 2023 Recipient of the US President’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Our 2023 recipient of the US President’s Lifetime Achievement Award, Ms. Monika Udas, President of the Whitehouse Community Corps and Vice President of the Friends of Nepal-NJ has spent more than 12 years working for children, community and women empowerment projects in our community and communities in Nepal. She has helped educate girls in Nepal, mentor children, supported girls in Nepal to educate them.

As FONNJ’s logo represent “We as members of the Friends of Nepal-NJ are like torch bearers of our community, bringing light to others and helping make the world a brighter place,” Menuka says.

“The purpose for the President’s Volunteer Service Award is to honor those who volunteer hundreds, if not thousands of hours over their lifetime,” said Past Rotary District Governor and past President of the FONNJ Dr. Tulsi R. Maharjan Volunteers are the engine of every organization, community, state, and country. They truly help make a difference.”

The President’s Lifetime Achievement Award is a civic award bestowed by the President of the United States. This award was established by the executive order of the President George W. Bush, the award honors volunteers that give hundreds of hours per year helping people in need.

Menuka, who has been a FONNJ member for more than 15 years, traveled to Nepal to assist with many projects that enabled girls to get education and distributing school supplies. During her visit she takes school supplies donated by local community members and schools for poor children in Nepal who don’t have school supplies and uniforms to attend school. She cooperated with local agencies to obtain supplies, food, uniforms, and sponsorship funds for the girls, many of whom were at risk of being trafficked into sex work or child labor.

Menuka also collaborated with Rotary clubs in Nepal to distribute scholarships in various schools.

Outside the Community Corps, Menuka’s philanthropic efforts include helping local Nepalese community people and special programs for children.

Menuka Udas, President, Rotary Community Corps of Whitehosue and Vice President, Friends of Nepal-NJ.

Hello, my name is Menuka Udas and currently volunteering with Rotary International Community Corp and Friends of Nepal- NJ.

“Making a difference in the lives of poor people in Nepal.”

As an immigrant from Nepal, I travel Nepal time to time. Most of my visits in the past, I took supplies and handed to the local chapter organizations.

Inspired from Dr. Tulsi Maharjan, I am involved in NJ Nepali community by volunteering in their various events.

Last 3yrs has been eye opening to most of us and has forced us to think more humanely.

In my recent visit to Nepal, I got an opportunity to distribute scholarships to some of the most underprivileged kids. I was in shock to observe the conditions of the kids there and their needs. I must admit, I was appalled, and on a personal level, I am planning to do fund raising for them regularly.

Friends of Nepal-NJ has created a student sponsorship program – USD150/yr., will help student get their school supplies, full scholarships + food. This support will help them focus on their studies and hopefully become a successful person in the future.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Tulsi Maharjan, FONNJ, Rotary Community Corp and Our sister partners in Nepal for giving me an opportunity to engage with the community and I hope some of you will also
join us in improving more human lives of the poor people in Nepal.

It is amazing how a short, four letter words can represent so much. ASHA means HOPE in Nepali, and that is our purpose to provide hope and opportunities for those who are hopeless and helpless. I would like to personally thank everyone for being a part of the team. Your support for the Nepal PROJECT has transformed the lives of not just individuals, but entire communities, empowering them with the tools to break the cycle of poverty.

Thank you for your humanitarian service and making a difference in the lives of poor people in Nepal.

Menuka Udas, President, Rotary Community Corps of Whitehouse.

Photos of our 33 Anniversary Celebration of HOPE.

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.