“For it is in giving that we receive”. – Francis of Assisi
Growing up in Nepal, each year for New Year I waited for a Red Cross package. The United States Red Cross sent packages for children to the Nepal Red Cross. In each special box, the ones that came during my favorite month, were two pencils, a pencil sharpener, an eraser, and, maybe, a piece of candy. It was a box worth waiting for. That was forty-eight years ago.
In 1972, after finishing high school, I left Nepal to go to college. The days of eagerly waiting for a Red Cross care package were left far behind. After ten years in the United States, not thinking about the old days, I saved enough money to return to my homeland. The visit was nostalgic with one incident standing out. I met two little girls collecting pennies outside a temple. It struck me that they should have been in school. When I asked they told me their parents could not afford their education. At that moment life changes. I found my purpose. I would work to provide educational opportunities for poor children.
Pablo Picasso said, “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”
In Nepal I found my gift, the passion to educate children. With that passion came my purpose, to find a way to send those two girls to school. They may have been the first, but they were not the only ones. I started to raise funds through organizing small events to build a scholarship program. My second visit back to Nepal came in 1990, after I challenged a group of members of the Patan Rotary to match my donation of $500 as the start of the scholarship program. 25 years later that program has provided more scholarships for more than 500 public school children throughout Nepal.
That program, The Nepal Project, grew out of the passion born on that trip long ago. Now the Nepal Project completed over $500,000 worth of projects. We provide safe drinking water, help build libraries, and establish computer labs. The desire to help have continually grown. While the Rotary Governor I promoted the theme, “Passion into Action.” Doing good to help others was needed after April 2015, when a big earthquake devastated Nepal.
I am proud to say this passion in action has passed on to my children. Working with my son and daughter, we created the ASHA PROJECT after 2015 big earthquake in Nepal.
ASHA means hope in Nepali, and we work to give hope and opportunity to the poor in Nepal.
Hope for greater opportunity brought me to this country 45 years ago, and now we try to bring back that same hope and opportunity to the people of Nepal.
With the support from the Rotary Foundation, we are distributing $100,000 micro credit grant to earthquake survivors. We are also working with many other Rotary clubs to built schools and computer labs. These sound like large sums of money, and we are grateful for every penny. But the needs of so many still suffering from the effects of the 2015 earthquake overshadow what has been raised so far. During our recent 2018 mission to Nepal we visited many community schools, distributing much needed school supplies, and conducted workshops for young people. Yet there was so much more we did not have the chance to do. Modest amounts of money go a long way in Nepal. The cost of one Starbucks coffee per week can pay for a Nepali child to go to school for an entire year.
Remembering an African proverb, “Things you do for yourself are gone when you are gone, but the things you do for others remain as your legacy,”
I ask myself what legacy do I want when I am gone. I know the answer is the good works of helping the children of Nepal.
I am fortunate to have found my passion. I hope that you have found yours as well, and that you embrace that passion. Together by putting our passion into action we can help those less fortunate.
We all have gifts to share and, like the girls collecting pennies, we can all do something to help.