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 were not in the cards! But they happened, against all odds. In other words, I beat the odds!

Ganeshsthan (the first school)
Ganeshsthan: The first “school” I attended in Pokhara, Nepal. The room that functioned as the school used to be where the white house behind the temple is.

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.

Shooting for the moon: This eleven year old girl in seventh grade, two years ahead of her peers, dreams of going "to the moon" when she grows up. A daughter of a couple that run a small roadside restaurant in the countryside, I met her at the tea stop when my friends I stopped by in June 2012 on our way back to Kathmandu.
Shooting for the moon: Aashmita, the eleven year old girl in seventh grade, two years ahead of her peers, who dreams of going “to the moon” when she grows up. (Photo courtesy of Jayjeev Hada)

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.

Dorje Gurung
March 2013

(Click here for an updated, more recent — August 2013 — About Me page.) 

(Visited 9,000 times, 1 visits today)

Facebook Comments (see farther below for other comments)


This Post Has 66 Comments

  1. Namgyal

    Dorje sir, its really a inspiring.

  2. Kripa

    Good luck with all your effort to create a beautiful world. Angels are needed in today’s world and you are being one of them. Thank you for being born..:)

    1. Dorje


      Thank you for your kind words!!

  3. Saroj Gurung

    Bro, how can i find your articles. Please let me know.

    1. Dorje

      Saroj, if by articles you mean my blog posts, you can subscribe to it (see the bottom box on the left sidebar).

  4. Farhan

    I read you article “Guilty until proven innocent” and have no words to express the sorrow felt. Though a short line about your pakistani neighbour in the jail, my feets numbed imagining myself in his shoes… circumstances bring all of us to travel and leave our birthplaces,, and most I bet would always want to return…God has made this life a trial for us…we had no choice to choose our nationality and circumstances when born, so for some, poverty, hatred, discrimination are their trials and for others wealth,power, disease and health are the trials…in the end all of us will be judged as to how thankful we were to God for His bounties, how patient we were when He tested us and how arrogant and unjust we became when were given the powers and unlimited wealth. All five fingers are not same. People should not be judged on the basis of their nationalities and the languages they speak, but to what they possesses as an individual. May God help us and protect us.

  5. Tanya Hermann

    Hi Dorje! I just skimmed your website, since I’m at work and should be working really. I think I met you, and hung out with you for a week at Global Village in Madrid, IA at the 4-H camp back in the early 90s! I’m glad you are doing so well.

    1. Dorje

      Dear Tanya, sorry to say but I can’t remember your name, though I do remember that week very very fondly. That was a fun week!

  6. Winsome Loraine Peter

    Thanks Dorje! Yes, I will definitely keep myself updated with activities posted on your website. I hope to visit Nepal sometime in the near future. One of my close friends, who is teaching in Shanghai started her own organization ‘Global Pathways of Change’ and she does a lot of outreach work to needy communities in Nepal, India, China, Cambodia and Liberia. I hope to accompany her on one of her trips to Nepal in the near future.

    1. Dorje

      Please do. Nepal is beautiful in so many different ways! I should know, I have been to over 50 different countries! (No, there is no bias there! 🙂 )

  7. Miss Winsome Loraine Peter

    Dorje, please keep in touch and let me know when you start your organization that will be the voice to speak for those who need education, the basic needs like a home, food, clothes and who deserve to live a life of peace and dignity. My email address is winsomepeter@yahoo.com – I would like to help even if its in some small way. Your plan to get into action sounds like an excellent plan! I hope that other people will want to be part of your vision and will help you achieve it.

    1. Dorje

      Dear Miss Winsome Loraine Peter,

      I’ll definitely be in touch. Another way to keep yourself informed of my activities is to subscribe to this blog; you’ll get notifications via email whenever I post something new. Subscription request form is in one of the boxes on the right.

  8. Milan rai

    Dorje Dai,

    I have read about u via internet in our daily news really it was a nightmare and I surprise too coz how could one international teacher will do so who are aware the country’s law n order very well. That time itself I thought is false allegations. And next day I read the article that u are released. And that good news gave me a true happiness.
    I would like to be in touch with u n hope u will add me in fb too my id is “sangpang82@gmail.com”

    1. Dorje

      Dear Milan,

      Thank you for your kind words!

  9. Navin Dhakal

    Dear Dorje Jee,
    It is thrilling to hear that you have been released. We, the Nepalese here in Vancouver too, have circulated the petition and were praying for justice; which has been granted! We have communicated in the past but have not met in person. Would love to do so when I come to Nepal next. Best wishes, Dorje Jee!

    1. Dorje

      Dear Navin,

      Thank you for all your support. Drop me a line when you are back.

  10. Winsome Loraine Peter

    Dorje, thank you so much for taking the time to respond to my earlier comments. I am just so excited that you are now back home and you can enjoy freedom again. It is the school’s loss and they can never replace someone as brilliant as you. I am so happy that the international community of teachers stood united and together we gained a victory!

    Freedon rings! Justice has won! It is the best sound! Let it be known that no religious law, or any oppressive system on this planet, will hold individuals hostage or captive or think they have the final word on a person’s life and destiny. As long as there are those of us who have deep convictions about justice and fairness and who will fight to uphold these, justice and fairness will be the victors and will triumph and individuals will be granted the freedom they deserve. Every human being on our planet has the right to justice and fairness and the right to fight for it!

    It was an honor to part of this victory! As you enter another chapter of your life, there will be more success, new doors of opportunity and new exciting adventures!

    1. Dorje

      You are so right! Yes, every single one of us deserve a right to justice and a fair trial (amongst a host of other things in life, such as right to education, right to the basic needs, right to a dignified life etc. etc.). And every single one of us needs to continue to fight for that, especially on behalf of those who can’t, on behalf of those who, for one reason or another, don’t have a voice. I for one am planning to do just that. So, this may not be the first and the last time I get in trouble with the law! 🙂

  11. Alex Szentmiklosi

    Very inspirational life story Dorje, god bless and protect you. AS

    1. Dorje

      Dear Alex,

      Thank you for your prayers!

  12. Mark Potts

    A fascinating life story. I should like to feature your narrative on my living citizenship website along with others from around the world with your permission. Take a look at the site http://www.livingcitizenship.uwclub.net/index.html
    You will see that it is a forum for sharing inspirational stories like yours.
    Best wishes
    Mark Potts

    1. Dorje

      Dear Mark,

      Yes, by all means!

  13. Miss Winsome Loraine Peter

    Dorje, you are a world inspirational figure! You are already a successful and important person! I am so deeply moved by your success story. Your life was meant to be a success story and you achieved your goals. You are no doubt an intelligent, brilliant individual who shown immense courage even when everything looked like it was against you. Congratulations on all your achievements! My prayer is that you will impact your country and the nations of the world, that you will become a powerful influence and an agent of change in our world. Many of us teachers from around the world are standing with you through the Qatar ordeal and we are supporting the fact that you must be released, given a fair hearing and that justice must be done. I am praying for you too.Thank you for sharing your life story with us. Just remember it’s not over – you have many miles to go in this journey called ‘life’! Be blessed and stay encouraged!

    1. Dorje

      Dear Miss Winsome Loraine Peter,

      Thank you so much for your kind words, words of encouragement and belief in me. It’s because of the efforts of people like yourself that I am a free man today! And it’s because of individuals like yourself that I will move on with my life to be a force for positive change in spite of recent events.

  14. JSM

    Hi Dorje – as a supporter of your goal, I would love to contribute to your future school in Nepal. Please let me know how I can do that — when you get on your feet in your home country once more! Best wishes.

    1. Dorje

      Dear Jocelyn,

      Thank you for your pledge to support my work (and therefore Nepal’s children). I will definitely let you know when the details are worked out.

      1. JSM

        Thanks Dorje! I see the online link that you just posted — I’ll be talking with my husband tonight about how much we can donate. All the best for your future work in Nepal.

        1. Dorje

          Dear Jocelyn, thank you!

  15. Nepalichic

    Dorje. You have become an inspiration to many and I am so happy that the social media and your loved ones have banded together to ensure your safety because we all (despite not knowing you personally) have bought into your being – and have faith in you.
    I wish you all the best in life and I hope you will continue to inspire kids. Now you have the whole world of opportunities ahead of you to use your stardom to make positive changes in the society. Good luck my friend!

    1. Dorje

      Dear Nepalichic,

      Thank you for your kind words and your belief in me. As has been amply demonstrated, concerned individuals (like yourself) won me my freedom! I have a new life, a new beginning ahead of me, and I intend to make the most of that to bring about the changes I want to see in our little but beautiful country of Nepal!

  16. Arman

    The punishment handed to him is correct.

    1. Lela


  17. Charlene Roberts

    As an international teacher, I understand how difficult it can be in a foreign environment my heart goes out to him and his family.

    1. Dorje

      Dear Charlene,

      Thank you for your kind words.

  18. John Wright

    Can not link to the petition. I support you and your rights to free speech and the demand for mutual respect in our classrooms.

    1. Dorje

      Dear John,

      Thank you. Due to the actions, support and prayers of individuals like yourself, I am a free man today!

  19. Lela

    May Allah protects and keeps you safe. May Allah gives justice to you against the oppressor.

    1. Dorje

      Dear Lela,

      Thank you for your prayers.

    1. Dorje

      Dear Tom,

      You rock my friend! Thanks a bunch for all your time and efforts in getting me out of Qatar! What’s left is for you to come for a visit to see what you have let loose! 🙂

  20. Irina

    So sorry to hear about your plight in Qatar. I am a teacher at an international school myself (South Korea). I did not opt to go to the Middle East, as a woman, as I heard from others who have been there, how difficult it can be and how easy it is to say the `wrong word`, not to have the `right contacts`. I would have felt very vulnerable and imagine how easy it must be to become a target. I am only able to send you good thoughts and strength via the internet but will discuss your plight with my colleagues at work tomorrow and suggest they sign the petition to set you free.
    My thoughts are with you at this trying time. Irina

    1. Dorje

      Dear Irina,

      Thank you so much for you kind words and your efforts! My freedom today is due to individuals like yourself around the world that fought for my release. Once again, thanks!

  21. Tara

    Dherai ramro cha!

    1. Dorje

      Dear Tara,


  22. jaymers

    I taught at St. Xavier’s in Jawalakhel from 2000-2002, and I just read about your situation in Qatar. Thinking of you!

    1. Dorje

      Dear Jaymers,

      Thank you! (By the way, how was teaching at St. Xavier’s? All the North American teachers we had when I was a student were very very memorable, and I know that they all loved teaching us too. How do I know? They kept telling us how much they loved it again and again and again like a mantra!)

  23. Dibya Bikram Rana

    Every step taken towards a destination is a step closer no matter how slowly you take it!! Your passion and determination is admirable!! I shall support you in everyway possible!!

    1. Dorje

      Dear Dibya,

      Than you! I would love it if you did!

    1. Dorje

      Thanks for taking the time to read my blog Tom. I had a look at your post on David Suzuki but couldn’t access the autobiography!

  24. Diwakar Chettri

    Very inspiring, you WILL succeed….because you really want to! : )

  25. Anil Shahi, ET

    I admire and truly respect your courage, Dorje! You inspire me!

    1. Dorje

      Thanks ET!

  26. Ashu

    Very impressive and humbling, Dorje! Sharing this widely. 🙂

    1. Dorje

      Thanks Ashu!

  27. Sharon Stevenson

    You’re truly an inspiration and you choose to let your inspiration lead you to something far greater in life. Congratulations Dorje, I look forward to following your journey.

    1. Dorje

      Thanks Sharon!

  28. Manoj Manandhar

    Dorje, strong and impressive bit there. I am glad to hear of your beating the odds and leading a “life of Dignity”. I also admire your passion to do something so that other children with similar upbringing and social/financial background can work to achieve their “dreams”. Dreams need to not remain dreams, they should be an eye opener for what you can do and what to do to make it a reality. Hope you can make dreams come true even with just one child, you will have succeeded. Go for it.

    1. Dorje

      Thanks Manoj Dai!

  29. Nabanita Ghosh

    Wish you all the best to achieve the goals for this noble work that you are going to perform in the rest of your life. The millions of Nepalese children who are living under poverty and hunger are in need of the love, support and guidance from the educated, civilized society people. You are the proof and a model in front of this society.Good Luck!!!

    1. Dorje

      Thanks Nabanita!

  30. Jayjeev Hada

    Dorje, I stopped by our Astronaut girl during my last visit and took another picture of her. She’s still shy but just as cute. I walked back to Melamchi again with Emily and Nick, our volunteers. Wills end teh pictures to you soon. you should probably sequence the pictures as we roll along and see where she lands up.


    1. Dorje

      And I am hoping that she’s still in school! Please do send the photos; I would really be interested in following her progress. I’ll visit Melamchi with you again some time when I am back and see her, of course!

Leave a Reply