I was not supposed to have even made it to (primary) school. But I did. Following that, I wasn’t meant to have completed high school. But I did. Going on to an international school in Italy and following that up with tertiary education in the US and Australia was not in the cards! But they happened, against all odds. In other words, I beat the odds!
The reason for all that not being in the cards? The (low) socioeconomic background I came from. And how was it that I was able to overcome the odds? Charities of others and an ambitious dream.
To make a long story short, after being shuttled from one government school to another, I ended up in one of the most reputable schools in the country: the Jesuit boarding school in Kathmandu. Part of the reason my family could afford to send me there was the very low fees – the Jesuits subsidized our education.
Following the Jesuit education, I ended up in Italy, at the United World College of the Adriatic, and then in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of “corn and hogs,” in Iowa, in Grinnell College. Scholarships paid for my education at both institutions.
I was in fifth grade (in the Nepalese educational system) when the idea of going to the United States of America for tertiary education, and making something of myself and my family, first occurred to me. For a kid of my background, the dream was not only unheard of but near impossible! What drove me however was that very fact – it being near impossible!
But of course, in the dreams I nurtured, I wasn’t exceptional. All children have dreams, and primary school children in Nepal are no exception. I have often met many such children in my travels around the country. They dream of achieving academic success and breaking their family out of the cycle of poverty they find themselves in.
They want to become a “thulo manche” (“an important/successful/good person”) when they grow up. “Deshko sewa garney” (“to serve my country”) is another dream young Nepalese children often express. A girl of eleven I met in July 2012 at a tea shop in the countryside dreams of “going to the moon!”
Unfortunately, their dreams remain just that…dreams. But, they shouldn’t! I have always recognized the need to do something about that as someone who dreamt big and, partly through charities of others, realized it!
And I am going home to do just that — to show the neglected Nepalese children they too can grow wings through education and make their dreams take flight, to help them realize their potential, to free themselves from the shackles of poverty and destitution they are born into, without any fault of their own, and, just as I have managed, to live a life of dignity.
This blog will detail such work I do with them, and others. And sometimes detail the thoughts and musings of a cosmopolitan Nepalese trying to find his way around, and establish a footing in, his own country after spending most of the last 25 years — pretty much all his adult life — abroad.