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.

He always spoke his mind. Before my district conference in 2014 in Somerset, he told me that very few people will attend the local conference, because he had an experience doing a local conference. I told him that don’t worry Governor, I have two happy Buddha’s helping me (Joe Horner and John Shockley), they will make sure that everything goes well, and they ran one of the most successful local district conference in 2014. John and Joe became Elly’s best friends after that. Joe and John even helped to clean up his office after Elly got sick. John spoke with Elly weekly.

Elly and his horse story

Elly was proud of the successes of his children and sons-in-law, and was always eager to share their accomplishments.

Those who wish to honor Elly are asked to make a contribution in his honor to the Rotary Gift of Life New Jersey, via mail c/o David Beni, Treasurer, 16 Claremont Avenue, Maplewood, NJ 07040. The Mission of Gift of Life Inc. of NJ is to provide resources to treat children with congenital heart defects from anywhere in the world where assistance is needed. He was the chair of this committee for a long time.

Rotary club of Branchburg will be celebrating his Life and Legacy on October 27, 2021 from 7:30 am to 9 am at the Stony Brook Grille in Branchburg. If you would like to attend the breakfast meeting, please register here. https://conta.cc/3v9MCO6 Spaces are limited due to on going Covid-19. Branchburg Rotary will be also setting up a “Elly Ezra Memorial Scholarship” in Nepal.

He was a GREAT Rotarian and family man and he adored all his children and grandchildrens. In order to keep his memory alive and with his family’s desire to keep his ROTARY LEGACY going, Branchburg Rotary and the Asha Project are setting up a MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP in his name in Nepal so that we can continue providing HOPE and OPPORTUNITIES for many poor children and continue his life’s quest for gaining more knowledge & wisdom and continue his Rotary LEGACY many more years of come. If you like to help, you can mail the check payable to the Branchburg Rotary Foundation and mail it to PDG Dr. Tulsi Maharjan, P.O. Box 5082, Somerville, NJ 08876 or contact him at 908-458-7712.

PAYPAL PAYMENT HERE

He will be missed by his Rotary friends, families members, and countless Rotary half brothers from around the world.

Here are some thoughts from his Rotary buddies…

PDG Adrienne Bzura:
Pam, I am so sorry not to be able to see you in person to offer my deepest sympathy & condolences on the loss of Elly. You know more than anyone the depth of love that connected you. There are no words that can truly ease the pain of loss, but if caring thoughts can help they are there with you now. You are not alone. Andrew & I are holding you close in our hearts & in our prayers. There is love that will last forever, and there are memories that will make you smile……..xoxo, Adrienne

Valerie Waterman:
I am profoundly sorry to hear about the passing of Elly. I was very fond of him and he was larger than life. I will miss him so much. Prayers to his entire family. May his memory be a blessing. Shalom to all.

PP Lewis Edge, Princeton Rotary:
Elly and I were dear friends for many years, have enjoyed many visits and shared countless phone calls and messages when we were apart. Last December (2020) he wrote to me with details about his long cancer battle and the ordeals that he had ahead of him. His deep love for his devoted wife, Pamela, and his smart beautiful children were among the reasons he fought so hard to continue living despite his suffering. I am heartbroken over his passing and extend my sincerest condolences to his family.

PDG D. Michael Hart, Westfield:
Elly was a great guy. He always had a joke ready and was a master story teller. He was a tireless worker, a very effective speaker, and very passionate about his causes. I worked with Elly closely on a major Rotary Fundraiser for many years, and he really put his all into it. Elly was devoted to his family, and very proud of his children and grandchildren. He will be missed.

Half Brother Nepalese Jew (Buddhist)

GSE TEAM VISIT FROM NEPAL

Group Study Exchange from Nepal to visit our District 7475 in Mid-April to Mid-May 2022. Need your club support.

Our most recent District GSE program started in PDG Ray’s term of Governorship. Our district send four GSE team members to Nepal in early January 2020. We had a plan to bring the group from Nepal in April 2020. But due to covid pandemic district had to cancelled the program. Now with Covid pandemic slowing down, we are planning to bring the team in Mid April to Mid May 2022 and have them attend our district conference in April.

Rotary International is a 116-year-old beacon of World Understanding that crosses all political, religious, and international borders. Rotarians have spread the message of World Understanding through acts of kindness, compassion, fellowship, and a common theme, Service Above Self. Our 1.2 million members have seized opportunities to serve at home and abroad through hands-on projects, International grant projects and other financial commitments. Rotarians around the world are working tirelessly to spread goodwill and peace.

For me, Rotary is one great gateway that leads to many doors – the chance to meet wonderful people you would otherwise never meet, to learn about cultures you never knew existed, to break bread with otherwise total strangers and so break down the barriers of ignorance and intolerance, to support a strong Rotary Foundation and its programs and participate in a crusade for building world understanding and peace.

Our real legacy will be once we eradicate polio from this earth.  We are “THIS CLOSE”.   Rotarians around the world have embraced the dream of a Polio-Free world and if that isn’t World Understanding I don’t know what is.

Our Rotary district 7475 is planning to honor Rotary’s goal of world peace and understanding by inviting one Rotarian leader and 4 Rotaract members to our district in coming Mid April-May of 2022  and planning  programs and activity during their visit to emphasize Rotary’s “understanding and goodwill as essential for world peace.”

As I reflect on my 2020 GSE team visit to Nepal as a GSE team leader with two Rotaract members and one Rotarian co-leader, 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, Group Study Exchange (GSE) 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.

“Our district has conducted many wonderful projects around the world. In 2022 as part of the Global Peace and Understanding month, we hope to have many celebration to highlight our past, present and future International projects”.

PDG Tulsi R. Maharjan

My own club Rotary club of Branchburg has done more than million dollars of Global grant projects around the world. If you like to learn about those projects and future joint projects, let me know, we can give a special presentations. Pictures from our Humanitarian mission to Nepal.

Our current District Governor Shelby Rhodes and PDG Ray Freaney are working hard to make this special GSE visit a reality with funding from our district and many supporting clubs. All district clubs will be playing a big role in inviting our GSE team from Nepal by arranging programs with our special guests and inviting friends and families.    

This will be a great time for our district clubs to launch an international community service project in your community with our visiting Rotaract students, sign sister club agreement, inviting your Rotaract and Interact students to share their experiences.

Through Rotary and its Foundation, we foster personal relationships that transcend borders and form a foundation for peace. GSE team visit from Nepal will be like celebrating World Understanding Month and a great opportunity 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 whether your club will be able host them in your county and provide home stay. You can reach me via email at trm7510@gmail.com or call my cell (908)458-7712.

PDG Dr. Tulsi R. Maharjan

Kabina Singh Maharjan to be honored with the U.S. President’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Branchburg Rotary is proud to announce that 2021 The U.S. President’s Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Ms. Kabina Singh Maharjan 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 George W. Bush, the award honors volunteers that give hundreds of hours per year helping people in need.

The President’s Volunteer Service Award can be granted to individuals, families, and organizations located throughout the United States. Depending on the number of service hours completed, recipients can earn the Bronze, Silver, Gold, and/or the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

“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 District Governor Dr. Tulsi R. Maharjan of the Branchburg Rotary club. “Volunteers are the engine of every organization, community, state, and country. They truly help make a difference.”

According to Dr. Maharjan, Past District Governor of the Rotary District 7475 “Kabina has found her passion, purpose and mission in her life. For the past 12 years, she has freely performed in many local and national stages various Nepalese cultural and historical dances”.

Kabina Singh Maharjan is also a Cultural Ambassador and coordinator of of the FONNJ (Friends of Nepal-NJ) http://www.fonnj.com.
According to Dr. Maharjan “We are delighted to have Kabina Sing Maharjan being selected as a recipient of this prestigious award”.

KABINA PERFORMING AT VARIOUS COMMUNITY PROGRAMS.

Kabina has been presenting her performances at various special functions in the tri-state area for more than 12 years.

According to the FONNJ Vice President Roshan Karmacharya “We are very happy learn that Kabina is receiving this prestigious award and recognition from the United States President”.

Kabina was born in Khokana, Patan and has been performing in variety of programs ever since her high school year, she had also taught dance classes to children in school. Dancing is her passion and she would like to continue teaching dances and promoting Nepalese cultural heritage in America. If your organization is interested in having her perform, please contact her at http://www.fonnj.com.

CELEBRATION OF LIFE & LEGACY OF MR. SHAILESH KUMAR DAHAL (UPADHYAY)

Shailesh was one of the first Nepali to live in NJ. We almost came to America same time in early 1970s. I had a plan to celebrate our 50th Year of COMING TO AMERICA celebration next year. But he left us early.

When we moved to NJ in 1987, we met up again after 20 years. May be that was my destiny to hear his dried sense of humor.

Then our small Nepalese community of 5 to 6 families regularly gathered during various Nepalese festivals. Now after 30 years we surpass more than 1000 families in NJ.

Nepali Gathering

I still remember a special gathering in his first house in Metuchen. One of the guest Mr. Kanak MANI Dixit, who worked at the United Nations came one hour late.  I thought that was a Nepalese time, but he could not find Metuchen. With his best Nepali accent, he asked a police officer where is the Me-tu-chen. Police told him that there was no me-tu-chen in New jersey. We had a big laugh.

Shailesh was born only two days before me. I asked him if I need to call him DAI – meaning Elder brother in Nepali. He just laughed and said it is only two days we are twins…

We started our THREE AMIGOS birthday celebration tradition. Celebrating our June birthdays together with Shailesh, Ashok and me. During the birthday celebration we always discussed about our favorite drinks. I used to buy only CORONA beer and Ashok and Shilesh used to have a good discussion about which one is the best beer. CORONA or Amstel.  For me it was just a beer and used to be happy with a cold beer and Newari choyala – roasted spicy meat.

When my son Anil was born in June 1992, we became 4 amigos and I made Shilesh  Anil’s GOD father according to American tradition. Shailesh used to imitate as DON CORLEONE from the movie Godfather and try to have kiss his ring. But that did not work.

Periodically when his father Foreign minister of Nepal Mr. Shailendra Kumar Upadhyay visit us in NJ, we used to have nice American Dinner ( you can guess what that is) and talk about Nepalese and American politics. That will be the highlight of Shailesh’s day.

Shilesh was always witty, he has a knack for telling Jokes about everything.  He was a renaissances man who has curiosity and desire to learn about everything. His smile, Jokes and boundless energy mesmerized everyone who he met.  He made friends with everyone easily. His unquenching desire to learn continued and read many American novels. We even found his latest novel he was reading in his bedroom before he passed away last week.

I am sure all of you have a different story to share about your encounter with him.  His funny jokes, his dried sense of humor and most of all his smile. I am sure he is watching us at the moment and laughing in the way only he can laugh. (ha.Haha …YO MULA HARU ke gari rahekohola) What these fools are doing.

He was a GREAT family man and he adored all his children. In order to keep his memory alive and with his children’s desire to keep his LEGACY going, we are setting up a MEMORIAL SCHOLARHIP in his name in Nepal so that we can continue providing HOPE and OPPORTUNITES for many poor children and continue his life’s quest for gaining more knowledge and continue his LEGACY many more years of come.

We are all going to miss him dearly.  We should take his LOVE for LIFE today as we say farewell to him and LIVE our lives with the JOY that Shilesh embodied.     

MAY YOU REST IN ETERNAL PEACE MY DEAR AMIGO…

CELEBRATION OF LIFE & LEGACY OF

MR. SHAILESH KUMAR DAHAL (UPADHYAY)

MY GAP EXPERIENCE IN NEPAL

BY: Amanda Green, Former RVCC Rotaract club member

The Asha Project’s GAP program started sending Rotaract students to Nepal to have them gain a lifetime experience. Visit http://www.theashaproject.org to learn more about the GAP program.

Travelling to Nepal was an incredible opportunity that I stumbled upon as a result of being a member of the RVCC Rotaract club. It was a really unique experience that I’m so thankful I got the privilege to be a part of.


The highlight of my trip was getting to meet the amazing members of the Newroad Pokhara Rotaract club, who were so welcoming, friendly, and amazing tour guides! We built strong friendships and developed a fantastic bond between our twin Rotaract clubs. I was really impressed by was the fact that most of the Rotaractors we met were entrepreneurs of some sort, having started at least one business or company and were already running it successfully. I was so impressed that many of them were starting off their business careers at a young age, and I found that inspiring!


Another memorable part of the trip was getting to experience the beautiful country and culture of Nepal. I was absolutely amazed at the beauty that was all around us wherever we went. It was inspiring to witness the vibrant and beautiful culture of Nepal, which is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. It was remarkable to be welcomed into so many different homes and get to see little parts of life in Nepal, all the people we interacted with were so hospitable and friendly.


We assisted with several service projects while in Nepal, such as distributing school supplies, painting walls and benches, and doing construction work in Kathmandu. This provided credibility to the missions the various groups are accomplishing and supported what they were already doing. This opportunity to come alongside these groups and support them was very encouraging and inspiring to me, as well as beneficial to the community. It was impressive to see how the Asha Project is helping people in Nepal, and to be a part of that.


I was so thankful for this opportunity to travel to Nepal, and really grateful to all the people we met for coordinating it and organizing everything so wonderfully. I look forward to when I can return.

DARAI PROJECT – An Indigenous people of Nepal

Darai Community Project Progress Report:

By: Prithivi Shrestha, VP Rotaract club of Rudramati-Babarmahal

Darai is one of the nationalities of Nepal. Darai is an ethnic group. Darai cast is one of marginalized group of Indigenous nationalities in Nepal. Total number of Darai ethnic is 14,859 in Nepal, according to Census 2001. They speak ‘Darai’ language as their mother tongue. 10,210 Darai people speak their Darai language in Nepal. The greatest number of them have been living in the inner Nepal for several thousand years. Most of these people live in Tanahun, Chitwan and Nawalparasi districts in the area of western part of Nepal.

        In some studies reported about the origin of Darai. They are known as Daroe, Darhi, Daraie, Daras, Darad and Darai. Darais are Mongolian stock with short stature, depress nasal ruts and they have stumpy nose. They display great health and strength. Darais are economically poor and the literacy rate is also very low in their communities and their livelihoods totally depend in traditional agriculture and fishing. Although Darais are agriculturalists lacking specific skills to carry out other special jobs. Men and women both work in the field and keep cow, sheep, goat and hen at home. Most of the women prepare beer (wine made out of maize or wheat) called ‘Mod/muna/jaad’.

As part of the economic and community development project the Asha Project hopes to work with the community leaders and women’s group to:

  1. Promote and preserve their own language, custom, religion, traditional rituals,
  2. Teach them about personal saving and microcredit projects,
  3. Provide Educational opportunities for children,
  4. Vocational training programs to engage women,
  5. Help promote their homestay business and community development.

    Darais are not getting much help from from the government so the Asha project started a pilot project with them to support them. In early January 2021, the Asha project with the help of the Rudramati-Babarmahal club distributed 150 chicken to families in the village. We were happy to learn that they were able to take care of those chickens and about to lay eggs and very soon they will share their chicks with other families who did not receive chicken. According to chair of the Asha Project Dr. Maharjan “In a special ceremony villagers will have a “GIVING DAY CELEBRATION” this way, community will learn the concept of how caring and sharing is important to further develop their communities”.

According to Dr. Maharjan “As part of the Indigenous Community Economic Development project, The Asha Project hopes to distribute more chickens, develop new bee project in the village as well as promote their homestay business. We are happy to be able to help these backward community people. We hope to work with these communities to preserve their language, customs, festivities and promote their distinct identity.” Your support is greatly appreciated to protect their lands, language, traditions and cultures. If you like to support this project, please visit http://www.theashaproject.org and make your donation.

Humanity in Motion: Dolkha Community School – RotaAsha Library Project.

By: Chandra Bhakta Adhikari, President Rotaract club of Sukhedhara.

Education is a basic right to every human being , rich or poor, any colour, caste or religion. In this joint venture between the Rotaract Club of Sukedhara, Rotaract Club Baneshwor and Rotaract Club of Baneshwor Royal, supported by The ASHA Project and FONNJ (Friends of Nepal New Jersey).


Rotaract club of Sukhedhara and Baneshore were able to donate a total of 1176 books to Hari Kirtan Basic School with financial support from the Asha Project. Rotaractors also conducted fun programs such as musical chair, balloon blast games and and spoke with students about how they can benefit from this library and getting to know the children and their lifestyle. According to Chandra Bhakta Adhikari, coordinator of this event “It was a very fulfilling event being able to help poor children in Dolkha and in this event we gained the goodwill of the teachers and the greater appreciation from school students” School library books consists of new novels, course books and books regarding general knowledge and world geography.

Pictures from Dr. Maharjan’s 2019-20 Humanitarian mission to Nepal.

Due to COVID-19, the chairperson of the Asha project, Dr. Tulsi R. Maharjan, past Rotary District Governor of 7475, USA could not make his annual trip to Nepal this year. However he said “His heart and spirits are with you” (Nepalese students and Rotaractors). He further said that “Whenever, I see student’s eyes wide open with a hope and aspiration then I feel that our Asha Project’s mission is achieved and that’s what brings me happiness”. The USA-Nepal Humanitarian Service projects have been going on for the last 30 years in Nepal and this year the Asha Project hopes to complete 30 projects in different parts of Nepal as part of the 30th year celebration. Just recently, they completed school project at the BalKumari School in Sunakothi, Laliltpur. (pictures belowe)


The Rotaractors felt a warm feeling of love and affection from the children, and a sense of goodwill from the teachers. “It is a great feeling to be able to add a small drop of humanity in an ever troubling world” said Mr. Adhikari.

Project : RotaAsha Library
School : Hari Kirtan Basic School, Dolkha
Books donated : 1176

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.

THE ASHA PROJECT 1991-2021

CELEBRATING 30 YEARS OF BRINGING HOPE TO NEPAL

By: Carol Parenteau

A Fateful Day

When Dr. Tulsi Maharjan stepped out of his home in the city of Patan, Nepal to go on an early morning walk, he not only encountered two little girls collecting pennies from the famous Chovar temple, but in a flash of memory he recalled his own economic disadvantages as a youth.
As a high school student in Nepal, Tulsi had anxiously waited for the Nepalese New Year to receive a small gift box from the American Red Cross. It contained a few pencils, erasers, a ruler, a couple pens and maybe candy. “I was in the receiving end 50 years ago,” Tulsi recalls, with a wistful smile. He had been very fortunate, however. His parents’ economic sacrifices eventually provided him the opportunity to study abroad.

Tulsi made a personal commitment to help educate those two girls when he met them in 1989. After he returned to the United States, he planned and developed various fundraisers and programs to provide funds to send more students to school. His employment in higher education, provided him an acute understanding of the transformational powers of education, this Tulsi to work tirelessly over the years, to raise funds to assist young students to attend school. In 1988 he joined the local Rotary Club, an international humanitarian organization. Soon he was involved in various projects and brought awareness of the needs in Nepal to the Club. He also started the Friends of Nepal-New Jersey organization which promotes cultural awareness and provides critical support for poor people in Nepal.


On the fateful morning in 1989 in Nepal, at the foot of the Chovar, 17 years after leaving his country of origin, Tulsi’s focus turned to the children in Nepal; with special interest and intensity, because he knew the importance that early education played in people’s lives. When he asked why the girls were not in school, he learned that the $25 yearly cost per child was prohibitive for their parents.


It Begins with Hope

Asha means HOPE in Nepalese. While Tulsi tacitly understood that it was not possible to give hope to all economically struggling families in Nepal who wanted their children to receive a basic education; he knew he could provide Asha to the two little girls. Hope for a better future for those girls was within his reach. That simple commitment to nurturing and giving hope– would prove to have the power to multiply itself when it was put into practice. That was his promise.

At his return to New Jersey from Nepal, where Tulsi now lived and worked, he embarked on a fundraising campaign, tapping New Jersey Rotarians as well as Friends of Nepal-NJ’s, Nepalese community to contribute to educational projects in Nepal. The fundraising campaign surpassed the initial $3,000 mark.

Hope Grows and Multiplies

Encouraged by his success, Tulsi returned to Patan two years later, in 1991. This time his approach to fund raising was more strategic as he knew that his individual efforts could not scale up to help more students. That is why he challenged his Rotarian colleagues in Nepal to match his own $500 donation for the scholarship program. The community responded in earnest with a cumulative sum of another $3,000. “All of those businesspeople were excited about contributing the gift of education,” Tulsi remarks with a trace of wonder. As of today, the Patan Rotary Club has deposited $100,000 in the bank and with the annual interest, the club is providing 300 to 500 scholarships each year. Remarkably, reflects Tulsi, “in collaboration with various Rotary clubs in Nepal our humanitarian projects have completed more than 20 projects valued at $1,000,000.”

The need for hope is greatest in times of crises, and humanitarian organizations responded to that need in 2015, when a strong earthquake hit Nepal destroying thousands of homes and exacerbating the poverty that already existed, especially in rural areas. By that time, Tulsi had built a solid infrastructure to channel resources and aid. It was that foundation that made possible the emergence of a broader-reaching humanitarian organization that is the “Asha Project” in partnership with the Friends of Nepal-New Jersey, (www.fonnj.com), Rotary club of Branchburg and Rotary International District 7475.

Hope to Action with a Sustainable Model

While the Asha Project’s origin can be traced to the caring attention, intention, and action of Tulsi to help two little girls, the strategic approach it developed to uplift thousands of Nepalese in need is anchored in three principles that give the Asha Project its sustainable organizational structure: a) HOMES OF HOPE: rebuilding homes, community and schools, b) LEGACY OF HOPE: investing in people by providing microloans and training for adults, c) RAYS OF HOPE: providing scholarships for children and youth to attend school and improve their digital literacy. The Asha project was created after his family visit to Nepal in 2016 with his son Anil, daughter Tara and son-in-law Daryl. Anil and Tulsi has continued to visit annually to Nepal to visit projects and other activities since the earthquake.

Today, the Asha Project not only benefits children in Nepal, it has continued to expand to empower women, entire families and communities, and as the silver lining reveals itself, it has given young professionals and other individuals the opportunity to travel, learn, and serve in Nepalese communities helping rebuild homes and schools for earthquake victims and expanding the access to water and healthcare.

Intersection of Passion, Purpose, and Promise – Working Together

After working in the higher education for the 30 years, Tulsi had finally found his passion and the purpose of his life. His passion is to help needy people and young students to learn, and to use his knowledge and skills to “help those who need help.” He has been able to have multiplier effect of those funding from the Friends of Nepal, Rotary clubs in New Jersey and beyond as well as Rotary Foundation matching grants. In the last 30 years more than 1 million dollars worth of projects have been completed in Nepal in cooperation with many Rotary clubs and other organizations in Nepal.

Creation of the GAP PROGRAM – Travel, Learn and Serve.