One of the many casualties of the abuse, exploitation and slave-like treatment of semi- and unskilled Nepalese laborers in Qatar, but something that hardly gets any in-depth coverage in the media and public forums, is the dreams of thousands of young and innocent Nepalese children.
A couple of days ago, I received a call from my journalist friend, and fellow United World College (UWC-USA) graduate, Subina. She was wondering if she could invite Jayjeev, my friend and colleague at COMMITTED, and me to a luncheon to discuss a migrant laborer issue. I knew she had just returned from a brief visit to Baglung, a small town west of Kathmandu, where she had gone for an assignment.
At lunch, she had a story to share, a story of Bishnu, a young girl who, along with her family, had now an uncertain future. Here’s the story in Subina’s words.
Bishnu Devi Khadka, 19, is a 12th grader who had been building a dream–to become the most well-educated woman in her village in Baglung and do something big. She was one of the few exceptional students, who despite studying in a local village school, was able to score first division grades in her 10th grade board examination. She even got 91 percent in Science, a subject she wanted to pursue for her higher studies but could not as it was too expensive for her parents. Nonetheless, she kept her spirit up and continued her education, studying to become a teacher. [Click here, here and here for blog posts about the challenges of being a student in rural Nepal and to truly appreciate Bishnu's academic achievements to date.]
But on August 12, when her father’s dead body was brought home from Qatar, along with the realization of debts that the family now owed to so many people, she saw this as the death of her dream as well.
Dol Bahadur Khadka, Bishnu Devi’s father, had gone to Qatar as a construction worker in April this year. The family, like that of most migrant workers from Nepal, had taken huge loans for him to go to Qatar. But, just after three months, in July, Dol Bahadur, 53, died in an accident at the construction site where he was working.
Now, the family is in debt. Even though the insurance here has paid off $7000, the family still owes another $2000. They have already sold all their land, and while we were there, they were in the process of selling their only buffalo.
Bishnu Devi, her mother, and her six brothers and sisters, have no idea how they are going to sustain their family. They’re waiting on the compensation that the company in Qatar has yet to pay them to clear the debts, but have very little hope of actually receiving it.
Bishnu Devi says she feels helpless for her family, who now-a-days do nothing but weep all day. She understands the family can’t afford her education anymore. But she still hopes. She still hopes that somehow she can still study and keep her dream alive.
Where Does COMMITTED Come In?
Subina wondered if COMMITTED could do something to help with her and her siblings’ education. Bishnu has another 7 months to go to complete her 12th grade. The cost is about US$1200.
Since returning to Nepal, I (and COMMITTED) have had requests for help with stories such as this. But for obvious reasons we are unable to help every one of them. We have had to pick and choose, unfortunately. Besides, we run a sponsorship program of our own.
This one however, we all felt we needed to, and could, do something about. To have completed 10th grade from a school in rural Nepal in flying colors, as Bishnu has done, she has overcome a major hurdle. It would be a shame and a great loss if the current hurdle squashes her dreams.
Personally, as someone, just like her at that age, who had stayed in school dreaming to become, amongst other things, the first person from my village to get a college degree from an educational institution in the United States, her story spoke to me. I am acutely aware of what it means to dream big and to come across hurdles to achieving that dream; what it means, and what it does to you, when you encounter hurdles that tell you that the dream might be just beyond your reach, especially when those hurdles and circumstances are beyond your control. I am aware of that because I went through that, regularly, as a young student. Ultimately however, I was able to live my dreams partly through charities of others.
And a bit of charity is what we are hoping will enable Bishnu to realize her dreams as well. This is where you come in. Maybe one or two or some of you out there can help Bishnu achieve her dreams!
COMMITTED has decided to raise the necessary funds to help Bishnu with her education. In my efforts to help rural students with their education, I have been shown great generosity by a few hundred people already. But we are calling on your time and/or generosity for this as well.
There are a few different ways you may be able to help us with this.
Walk for COMMITTED in Dallas or sponsor a walker!
We have signed up to raise funds at a fundraising walk organized by Walk For Nepal in Dallas, Texas, USA. While most of the walkers would raise funds for ongoing projects COMMITTED runs, we are hoping for a volunteer (or two) to commit to raising the necessary 1200 dollars for Bishnu’s education.
Should that not happen, we are planning, with the permission of all the walkers, to earmark 1200 dollars to the cause. Incidentally, 80% of the funds raised by a walker for the partner organization goes to the organization. In other words, should you decide to walk on our behalf, you would choose us (when registering) as your partner organization and we would get 80% of the funds you raise.
Details of the walk:
Organization: Walk For Nepal (Have a read of the Slideshare slides for more information on who they are and how it works. COMMITTED has had representation in past walks, most recently in Washington, DC, this past summer.)
Date: November 10, 2013
Venue: River Legacy Park, Arlington, Texas
Registration: Follow this link. Under partner organization, select COMMITTED. Once you register, be sure to let your friends know so that they can sponsor you.
Sponsor a walker: Follow this link.
If you are in Dallas and decide to volunteer to raise funds for Bishnu’s education, please let me know either by email (dorje[at]dorjegurung[dot]com) or leave a comment under this post.
If you have any questions, again please email or leave a comment below. If I am unable to answer it, I’ll put you in touch with people in Texas.
Donate through our website. (The donate button appears just above the bottom right corner.)
Should the site appear inaccessible or nonexistent, please be patient and check back at a later date. We are in the process of revising and redesigning it. Be sure to let us know in some way (again by email or comment underneath this post etc.) that the funds are for Bishnu’s education.
I’ll be updating this blog post with comments about any new development. Be sure to check back.
Nov. 12, 2013
Since I have a page devoted to Sponsorships I have decided it would be better to devote a page to Bishnu and her siblings’ education sponsorship program where I provide updates etc. than update this blog post.