Three Sisters of Sindhupalchok

Success Story

After the death of their father, three sisters carried on living with the help of relatives because their mother had left them too. But the situation became worse in 2015 when a devastating earthquake hit Nepal. Approximately 9000 people lost their lives; many more were injured and displaced. And many lost their loved ones. These three sisters suffered tremendously too. Their house was destroyed, and they had no place to go.  At that moment, the Asha Project helped them to build a new house and provided school expenses along with stationary supplies. In addition, the project provided some goats and built a goat shelter to help provide them a means of income.

Goats are widely used livestock in Nepal. Having goats brings the benefit of meat and milk production, and provides for income support.

The earthquake victims in Nepal including the three sisters received financial support from all over the world. Although the amount of money was not much, it definitely showed how collective efforts bring small changes for the least privileged people.

When Kishore Tripathi, the Goodwill Ambassador, met the sisters, he saw a very touching moment full of joy, love and hope between the three sisters. The Asha project brought this joy to their lives. Later, the older sister Thapa asked him, “Dai, do you think it is possible to say thank you to all the people who helped us?” He smiled and gladly said, “Of course.” (Sindhupalchok).

Now 22 years of age, the eldest sister recently married.  Of the other two, one goes to the college and the other is planning for vocational training. 

Asha believes in helping poor people in Nepal to rebuild their lives and renew their hope. Since 1992, the Asha project is working through three pillars – “Homes of Hope” for re-building homes and schools, “Legacy of Hope” for providing micro-credit loans to grow micro-enterprises, and “Rays of Hope Scholarship” for providing educational support.

The Asha project accomplished more than 17 Rotary Foundation grants, approximately $950,000, in Nepal to improve water, sanitation, health and educational opportunities for more than 70,000 people. The Asha project is jointly implemented by the Friends of Nepal-NJ (FONNJ) and the Rotary club of Branchburg.

Providing Hope and Opportunities – Shree Bal Kumari Secondary School Scholarship Success Stories.

Written by Medha Joshi and Krishna Prasad Sharma As part of our 30th Anniversary of the Nepal project we are highlighting some success stories.

Jyoti Maharjan and Niraj Maharjan are two of the four siblings who came from a modest family background. They share their experiences about how the Rotary – Friends of Nepal-NJ scholarship they received in school changed their life.

The eyes of Jyoti Maharjan shine when she says how happy she feels to teach dancing to students. She works at a finance company and runs a dance center and tuition center in her free time. But she hadn’t always been this way. She recalls her school days, “We felt uncomfortable when we couldn’t see our exam results after failing to clear our exam dues.” She further shares how her sister felt embarrassed when she couldn’t afford the school fees, “My sister went to the school to give exams but she was stopped at the gate as she hadn’t cleared her dues. She had to lose a year of school as a result. Being the eldest she was mature enough to understand and feel the humiliation of not being able to pay the school fees”. Jyoti recalls how hard it was before when she along with her four siblings were enrolled at the school and none of them got scholarships. She tells us how she used the money she got from the Rotary-Friends of Nepal-NJ to pay her own and her brother’s exam fees. She shares how she didn’t have to ask her parents for money to buy stationeries. She was supported from Class 6 to 10 and passed her SLC in 2064.

After teaching students for six years she started working at a finance company. The catastrophic earthquake of 2072 brought down her house. So the steady income she had before is now spent on paying the loan interest she took for rebuilding her house. She says, “Life isn’t easy even now. It’s hard to meet the financial obligations but the scholarship we received in school has helped us to face life’s challenges now.”

Her brother, Niraj Maharjan got the scholarship a year later and was supported from Class 5 to 10. He shares, “The scholarship helped me to study. With the money I got, I used to buy study materials, stationeries, pay exam fees, use as pocket money and make small savings. I used my savings for social work.” As of now he has taken training on electrification from CTEVT. He is happy to use his skills for arranging electrical wiring in his newly built home. He also shares his love for social work demonstrated by his involvement in social projects since his school days. Even now he works actively in the club that these siblings had cofounded. He shares, “The club has organized different programs and events involving adult literacy, skill building and competitions for children.”
When asked about the importance of scholarship support to school students he advocates, “Such scholarships should be continued to support people with less resources. Such scholarships will continue to play an instrumental role to provide support to children who’ve come to the valley from far off parts of the country in search of a better education, a better living.”
Both of the Maharjan siblings are very thankful to their scholarship sponsors. They have a Bachelors degree now. With their joint incomes these siblings pay the loan interests and send their sister to a boarding school. They share that they will also look for chances to go abroad to earn money to clear the home loan. They suggest that such scholarships should also be available at the college and university levels. Sharing their own experiences they say, “We wanted to become lawyer and engineer ourselves but we had to study business at the college level due to our limited financial resources. We want to suggest that these kinds of scholarships should also be available at the college level. So students will be able to study what they are truly passionate about.” An hour of conversation with these siblings was enough to figure how optimistic they were about life. They shared that they wouldn’t give up and continue to face life’s challenges as they come.

Since 1998 we have been supporting the Bal Kumari School with Building project, computer lab, science lab, sports camps and annual scholarships at the school.

PARTNERSHIP with PURPOSE: Ending Hunger in our community

It is true that Partnering with Purpose works because we have many projects which we are collaborating with other organizations rather than competing with each other. At the moment many communities are facing complex challenges and find convoluted, redundant systems of services and organizations to be discouraging. We, the Rotary club of Branchburg, with motto of “SERVICE ABOVE SELF” decided to utilize the kitchen at the Bound Brook Presbyterian church to cook our food and then we found out that the church was also giving out food for food insured individuals in the community so we decide to work with them to engage in a meaningful, coordinated partnership and the final result has been excellent.

THE HUNGER IS REAL and the need is great. Every small donation counts. We have been successful due to our connection and partnership with many local organizations.

COVID Hunger Project

The Rotary Club of Branchburg has been distributing fresh food as well as cooked meals at the Presbyterian church in Bound Brook for community people who lacks transportation to receive food from the Somerset Food Bank. Rotary Club of Branchburg has been working on Hunger project for more than 5 years. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic food insecurity has increased in our community. This is particularly true for households with young children. We realized that Bound Brook’s resident community was not able to receive food due to lack of transportation said club president Jody Dipine. In addition, many fellow Branchburg Rotarians are delivering weekly food donations to the Lamont School Bound Brook food kitchen, St. John’s church in Somerville and Senior center in Somerville as well.

Knowing that the community has many families that are struggling, due to conditions brought on by COVID-19, the Rotary Club wanted to do more for our community. The club has already donated more than $100,000 worth of food from various food drives and food collocation from local food stores.

With the support of our club’s members and award winning chef Jim McGrady has been cooking food ever since early February to feed more than 500 people each week. Our new fresh food distribution on Sundays feed more than 350 people each week.

According to Joe Horner, member of the Branchburg Rotary club, “We are happy to be able to distribute fresh food to our local needy people. The food distribution at the Bound Brook Presbyterian Church from 1 to 2 pm draws more than 100 families each week. We would like to continue this project, but your support is urgently needed to continue this humanitarian project in our own community. Please help to feed people who are affected by COVID-19 PANDEMIC. Your small donation of $5 will feed one person. If you like to help, please support clicking these links. https://gofund.me/724ddb94 or https://go.eventgroovefundraising.com/7862bf

Be a part of this great challenge and make a difference in our community. According to Bill Stabile, member of the Hunger Project “Now more than ever, we must come together as a community to help one another. Rotary has a long history of showing support in many ways to both local organizations and international service projects, and we are proud to carry on that strong tradition with our current members.”

The Rotary Club of Branchburg has been serving our community and communities around the world for the last 33 years and is always welcoming new members who are interested in giving back to their community. Check us out on Facebook to learn more about the great work the club is doing: http://www.facebook.com/Branchburgrotary/ or visit our website http://www.portal.clubrunner.ca/3078/ or you can donate here https://go.eventgroovefundraising.com/7862bf.

CONGRATULATIONS to our 2021 US Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient Mr. Ram Malakar

Ram Malakar came to the United States from Nepal in the early 1980s with his family and lived in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. During his early years, Mr. Malakar worked and traveled extensively overseas in India, Italy, and Malta for the U.S. Embassy and then worked as a food service director at St. Luke Institute in Washington, D.C. until his retirement.

Malakar was one of the early settlers from Nepal to Washington, DC. To meet and network with other Nepali and friends of Nepal, he got involved with the America Nepal Society and became the president of the organization. During his tenure, Mr. Malakar promoted and fostered Nepal’s literature, arts, culture, values, and social customs in the U.S.

To continue the preservation of Nepal and Newah culture, Mr. Malakar founded Nepa Pasa Pucha Amerikaye (NPPA) in November of 1991. NPPA was incorporated to conserve and preserve the cultural heritage, the traditions, and the customs of the Newah people and to participate and facilitate the growth and development of the Newah culture in arts, literature, language, science, commerce, music, dances, customs and rituals of the Newah people in the modern world.

Lastly, to support the aging Nepalese population in the U.S., Mr. Malakar founded Nepal American Senior Community in 2002.

Mr. Malakar embodies what it means to be a community connector and community builder. He exemplifies not only as a great community leader but also someone who gives back.

He currently lives in Rockville, Maryland, surrounded by his wife of 60 years, Bisnu Malakar, and his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

Compassion into Action

Today Branchburg Rotarians, Rotaractors and the monks from the temple put their compassion into action by helping to create a special Rotary Peace Garden at the NJ Buddhist Vihara and Meditation Center. The Rotary Club of Branchburg working together with various community groups as well as Rotaract and Interact members, put Rotary’s mission of “Service Above Self” in motion to engage members and volunteers, we are finding personal satisfaction and a sense accomplishment.

Embracing inherent source of compassion

Compassion is the bedrock of a healthy social movement to make a difference in our community and communities around the world. The Rotary Club of Branchburg’s District Governor Elect John Shockley urges us to turn Compassion into Action so that we can craft engaged and meaningful lives. He believes that we must each embrace the innate source of compassion within us and impact world, one action at a time.

Transforming pessimism to optimism

To actualize compassion, we need to transform our pessimism into optimism; connect to the deeper purpose of our work; expand our communities to create greater sense of belonging; and be intentionally present with ourselves and others. “Compassion into Action” calls us to start an action to bring more compassion to the forefront of our lives, our community service and our daily lives. We are all “ordinary people” doing an extraordinary thing in the world—Rotarians around the world doing heroic acts of kindness and compassion, every day in the simplest of ways.

Service Above Self.

Whether you are a Club President who is committed to exceptional service, a passionate volunteer proudly doing special work to help communities here and around the world, or anyone who believes that actively giving of yourself changes the world…then we are moving to bring Compassion into Action. Let’s ask our self, what does compassion mean to you? How can we put our compassion in our life? How can we create more joy for others? How do we create a sense of belonging in our community?

Please join the movement.

We invite you to visit our Rotary Peace Garden in Princeton and find a calmness of our mind in this turmoil driven world. We have created a garden and meditation walk path surrounding one of the tallest Buddha statue in the northeast. If you like to volunteer or donate a tree or plants, contact District International Service Director PDG Dr. Tulsi R. Maharjan at trm7510@gmail.com or calling him at 908-458-7712.

We would like to thank Rotaract members, Rotarians for devoting their time on November 7 to plant trees and to the creation of the Peace Garden project on November 7th, 2021. Special thanks to DGE John Shockley for his help and distributing district pins to thank our volunteers.


By: Eezya Dangol

The Asha project has a long history of supporting the school since 1990. Recently completed a science lab at the school.

On 5th October, The Asha Project conducted a scholarship program for children studying in grade 5 and 6 of the Balkumari School , Lalitpur municipality – 27, Nepal .

Every child has the right to quality education . But all the kids come from families having low economic status making it difficult for the children to attain quality education. Their parents work as factory workers and farmers and have a really miserable life.

This small act of kindness by Asha Project- Nepal has brought smiles on the innocent mellow faces of the children there. They were appreciative and thankful for this humanitarian gesture and were happy that they get to buy school supplies and pay their annual fees without any difficulty for their working parents.

It was the most beautiful feeling to witness and was able to capture moments of big smiles and happiness among the poor children of Sunakothi.

This scholarship was given in memory of my grandmother Usha Devi Maharajan, who was not educated but believed in educating children. My grandmother even helped me to attend the St. Xavier school eleven years ago. She was very kind and generous and helped many children to get into the St. Xavier school with her kind words and request with fathers at the school. This scholarship program brought happiness and smile on the faces of those needy children. I am very delighted to be part of this special memorial celebration for my grandmother.

My grandmother believed that “Helping the poor and needy is the greatest service you one can provide.” Once again thank you to Asha Project -Nepal for this special “Usha Devi Memorial Scholarship” for poor children in my village and I am very happy to be a part of this work to help needy children in my village.

The Asha Project’s mission is to “help poor people in Nepal to rebuild their LIVES and renew their HOPE.”

ASHA means HOPE in Nepali language. It is amazing how a short, four letter word can represent so much. Asha means hope, and that is its purpose. To provide hope in all aspects of life by supporting initiatives that is run by the people of Nepal for the people of Nepal

I hope I will be able to help with this project and make a difference in poor children’s lives in the future. I believe that “Even by putting little effort or by giving just a little of what we have, we can make a difference in their lives.”

Eezya Dangol

Diversity Coalition to celebrate 20th Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Dinner and Diversity & Peace Award ceremony on November 20, 2021.

Branchburg, N.J. – Rotary Club of Branchburg and The Somerset County Cultural Diversity Coalition (SCCDC) will be hosting its 20th Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Dinner and Awards presentation. Several outstanding individuals and organizations who have promoted peace and diversity in Somerset County will be receiving the 20th Annual Diversity and Peace Award.

The awards will be presented at the Interfaith Thanksgiving Dinner on Saturday, November 20, 5:30 p.m. at Raritan Valley Community College in the Conference Center, Route 28 in North Branch. Members of the public are invited to attend.

“The mission of the Coalition is to strive for greater awareness and respect for for all people in our community” said Dr. Tulsi R. Maharjan, chair of the SCCDC Coalition. “And it seems appropriate that we recognize people and groups that value and promote peace and diversity as we celebrate our 20th annual Interfaith Thanksgiving dinner and awards ceremony. We invite people of all faiths and cultural backgrounds to come and celebrate with us.”

Dr. Tulsi R. Maharjan, Chair SCCDC, PDG Rotary District 7475

“We invite everyone to share a special Thanksgiving meal and celebrate the service of gratitude,” said Dr. Maharjan. “Prayers will be offered by local representatives of the Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Jain, Shinto, Native American and Sikh communities.”

At this special event the Rotary club of Branchburg will be donating $100,000 to various veterans organizations. According to club President Jodi DiPane-Saleem “We are very happy to be able to partner with various veterans organizations to help homeless veterans as well as any veterans who need additional help.

Our keynote speaker will be Mr. Subarna Malakar, who is a Veteran as well as the Head of the Diversity and Inclusion of the Sanofi Pharmaceutical North America.

If you would like to attend the dinner and award presentations, you are asked to register in advance online at https://conta.cc/3mXzdFg or emailing at trm7510@gmail.com. A donation of $25 is requested, with proceeds benefiting our annual humanitarian missions to Nepal and Columbia as well as our Global Action program to bring 5 youth volunteers from Nepal to further promote peace and understanding.

The event is being hosted by Raritan Valley Community College Rotaract Club. We are seeking corporate and community sponsors for this 20th anniversary celebration.

2021 Diversity Award recipients

Community Service Award: Lions International District 16J Governor Varsha Naik

Volunteer Service Award: Ruth Nortje, Horses for Forces

US President’s Lifetime Achievement Award

Ms. Kabina Singh for her 15 years of community service.

US President’s Lifetime Achievement Award
Mr. Ram Malakar
for his 40 years of dedicated service to his community.

US. President’s Gold Award Recepinets – Marcus M. Karna, for volunteering his time for many social causes and

Aaron Basnyet for setting up All4Ball non profit.

Aaron with Nepalese children who he tutored from US>

For more information about the dinner call (908) 369-4318.

Visit http://www.sccdiversity.com for more information about the Coalition and Rotary club of Branchburg if you like to volunteer in our community.

2021-23 Goodwill Ambassador Mr. Gyan Lal Maharjan

We are very happy to announce that Mr. Gyan Lal Maharjan has been appointed as a Goodwill Ambassador of the THE ASHA PROJECT-Nepal. The Goodwill Ambassador will engage in public advocacy as well as public awareness activities in Nepal.

The new Goodwill Ambassador will be designated for a period of two years, renewable, based on mutual agreement by the parties on the basis of satisfactory fulfillment of the role and their demonstrated interest in continuing the relationship.

Mr. Gyan Lal Maharjan graduated from the St. Xavier school and received his Intermediate in Commerce from, Namuna Machhindra College as well as bachelor’s degree in Education with major in English from Lalit Education College. He has completed many community service projects in Nepal.

He has also travelled to many countries like; USA, Canada, Beijing -China, Inner Magnolia, Italy, Manchester-England, United Arab Emirates, Thailand and Indian.

He is also the founding president of the World Class School in Imadole, Patan.

He has run many camps to bring enthusiasm in learning life skills as well as he is a motivational and inspirational speaker and Environmental outdoor educator and conference leader.

We look forward to utilizing his expertise and training programs for teachers and leadership programs for students and Rotratact/Interact members in Nepal. Welcome Gyan Lal Maharjan.

Mr. Ram Makalar, Founding President of the NPPA to be honored with the U.S. President’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Friends of Nepal- NJ and the Rotary club of Branchburg are proud to announce that 2021 The U.S. President’s Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Mr. Ram Malakar on November 20, 2021 during the 20th Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Dinner and Diversity Awards ceremony at the RVCC College in Branchburg, NJ.

The President’s Volunteer Service Award (PVSA) is a civil award bestowed by the president of the United States. Established by executive order of President George W. Bush, the award honors volunteers that give hundreds of hours per year helping people in need.

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

According to Dr. Maharjan, “Mr. Malakar has found his passion, purpose and mission in his life. For the past 41 years, he has been organizing various nonprofit organizations to promote and preserve Nepali and Newari cultures as well as organizing various Nepali festivals and feeding hundreds of people each year”.

Dr. Maharjan said “41 years of incredible service to Washington DC metro area Nepalese community deserves an award. The Rotary Club of Branchburg and Friends of Nepal-NJ (FONNJ) will be presenting the US President’s Lifetime Achievement award of exemplary service to the community. Mr. Malakar has given over 41 years of his life serving and helping communities in Washington metropolitan area”. Please congratulate him if you see him and please share this post to celebrate his lifetime service to our community. Mr. Malakar was one of the founding fathers of the NPPA (Nepa Pasha Pucha Amerikaye) (http://nppa-usa.org) and past Presidents of the America Nepal Society and Nepalese Senior Group as well.

According to the NPPA past president Saroj Malakar “We are very happy to learn that my Dad is receiving this prestigious award and recognition from the United States President for his lifetime dedication to our community”.

Mr. Malakar was born in Thamel, Kathmandu and worked as a chef for many American Diplomats in Nepal and came to the United States in 1980 with American Diplomat as a personal chef. Since he arrived in Maryland, he has been welcoming and helping newly arrived Nepalese people in the area. Cooking is his passion and he has been inviting Nepalese community to his house for an authentic Nepali food to celebrate many Nepalese festivals. I also had a chance to learn few special Newari cooking lessons from him as well. He continues to share his knowledge and wisdom with many young people to promote and preserve Nepalese heritage in America. If your organization would like to hear his “Coming to America” story and his life’s opportunities and challenges, please contact FONNJ at http://www.fonnj.com. If you like to attend the Dinner and Awards celebration, you can register here. https://conta.cc/3mXzdFg

Celebration of Life and Legacy of Mr. Ramesh Maharjan

No tribute could ever come close to adequately describing Rameshji’s achievements and accomplishments in his community and communities around Nepal.

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

With God’s grace and Jhapu (Maharjan) connection, I had opportunity to meet with him during his visit to the United States. He was very gentle and soft-spoken person. I was quite impressed with his gentle smile and can-do attitude.

We had signed a MOU ( Memorandum of Understanding) to work with his organization Maya Foundation. He was very kind to host our visiting GAP (Global Action Project) students as well as our Asha Project team, when we visited his project in his hometown, when the area was destroyed by the 2015 earthquake. We even had some American Sherpas including my son Anil Maharjan, who helped to move some bricks and clean up the area.

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

William James

Mr. MAHARJAN was a mentor, friend, husband, father and grandfather—Ramjeshji lived a life of many roles and with many talents including his charming smile. As author Peter Strople said “Legacy is not leaving something for people. It’s leaving something in people”.

Born in Patan, Nepal, Rameshji would ultimately become one of the most-beloved and well-respected person in Nepal. He was the pillar of his community and family. Among other responsibilities fulfilled, he served as a founding president of the Maya Foundation, and served on many profit and non-profit organizations as a board member and president. Known for his excellent Diamond 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

Billy Graham

While his notoriety was great and his accolades numerous, for many in his community, he was a mentor and unelected Mayor of his town. Approachable and authentic, Rameshji was available to community people to help anyway possible.

He walked through this world with exceptional grace, strength, and wisdom. Community people were his preoccupation, the Newa communities were his family, the world was his stage.

Thank you for your continued prayers for his family and friends, and especially for his wife.

May you rest in eternal peace COMPASSIONATE PASA Rameshji.

In memory of him and to keep his Legacy alive the Asha Project-Nepal will be setting up a special scholarship for poor children in Patan area, maybe with this scholarship, we can educate and produce another Rameshji, who is kind, gentle and compassionate just like him.

Life & Legacy of a true Rotarian Elly Ezra “Crazy Horse”.

Our true Rotarian, father, grandfather, uncle and true friend and mentor of many District Rotoratins Elias (Elly) Ezra, left us, at the age of 73.

With Indian Half Brother Mahesh Advani

Elly was born July 21st, 1948 to Naomi Moses Ezra and Ezekiel Ezra, in Bombay, India. He grew up in Byculla. He came to the United States in 1966 to attend Tulane University, where he studied Mechanical Engineering. He continued his studies at Pace University, where he earned his MBA and completed coursework towards his Doctorate. He then worked for Western Electric and AT&T in New York and New Jersey. In 1989, he opened his own printing business, AlphaGraphics, that later became Edigital Graphics, which he ran successfully for 32 years.

With Rotary members from Bound Brook

While Elly was successful in business, his greatest accomplishment was his family. He is survived by his devoted wife of 43 years, Pamela Ezra. Elly and “Pammy” met in 1977 and created a happy life together. He was the proud father of four children: Yally, Mitchell, Mindy and Melanie and sons-in-law Evan, Mohamed, and Sunny. He was the adored grandpa of eight grandchildren: Leah, Micah, Eli, Ethan, Rosie, Asher, Noah, and Ari. He was predeceased by his parents, grandmother Nani, and brother, Eric Ezra. He is survived by his sister, Googie Tesser, and Auntie Hannah Moses.

Elly was a card carrying an avid member of Rotary International since 1984. After being District Governor, his loyalty and dedication grew even more. He would share his Rotary stories everywhere and district people enjoyed his “Kool Aid” tinted talk about Rotary and its effort to eliminate Polio to his full dedication and commitment to the “Gift of Life” program. Elly made friends wherever he went. All Asian Indians were his half brothers. I even manage to be his half brother being a Nepalese Jew. (Buddhist can obviously be anything they want). He was known for telling jokes and for his off-the-cuff speeches and toasts, especially to large audiences. I remember several Paul Harris Awards presentations he made, where Rotarians felt that Rotary International is a beacon of World Understanding that crosses all political, religious, and international borders and provide help where ever it is needed. And how Rotarians around the world have spread the message of World Understanding through acts of kindness, compassion, fellowship, and a common theme, Service Above Self.