Abandoned by her parents, 10-year-old Sushma was living with her grandparents in a village in Panchkal when the earthquake struck Nepal in April 2015. Both her grandparents suffered injuries in the quake and were unable to continue taking care of the little girl. The Mitrataa Foundation took her into their care and put her into an English-medium school in Kathmandu, while also providing as much assistance as possible to her grandparents. Sushma, who used to be from a public school which instructed in the Nepali language, now thrives in school and, barely a year after transferring to the English-medium school, is now at the top of her class.
At 16, Babanath has the weight of the world on his shoulders, but he is never without a smile. With a physically disabled father and mentally disabled mother and younger brother, the young man bears a huge responsibility for taking care of his family. Despite this, he remains passionate about learning and never misses a day of school. Babanath's family lost everything in the earthquake, but he persevered and remained passionate about learning. Seeing his resilience, Mitrataa helped rebuild Babanath’s home and ensured he could continue with his studies.
When she heard of a community in Solukhumbu needing emergency relief, 19-year-old Bandana was determined to help. She looked into various ways to get aid to the remote area and did not give up despite facing hurdles. She quickly found and got herself on a flight to a nearby town and then trekked two full days to deliver the supplies including food, blankets and tents to shelter the people from the snow. Bandana is one of the young, dedicated individuals working for Mitrataa.
Sushma, Babanath and Bandana are just three of the hundreds of Nepali individuals who have been empowered by the Mitrataa Foundation Wiley Singapore’s adopted charity. They were also three
of the several dozen children we met on our recent visit to Nepal.
Partners in fulfilling potential
With its commitment to empowering individuals to create better futures for themselves through providing education, skills training and network support, the Mitrataa Foundation makes for a perfect partner in Wiley’s corporate giving program. Wiley began supporting Mitrataa in 2009 through our relationship with founder and executive director Bec Ordish, a former lawyer from Australia and a Wiley author who had co-written a book on intellectual property. Our partnership has since grown from strength to strength, with our support extending beyond education and skills literacy programs to sustainable development plans for the communities with which Mitrataa engages.
Witnessing transformed lives transformed ours
Over five days, our team of six met and spent time with the Mitrataa team and young beneficiaries, many of whom have been directly impacted by Wiley’s funding support. We conducted educational workshops including a crash course on accounting with pre-college students and a fun exercise on story writing for a group of primary-level girls.
Eager to learn, the children took in everything that we shared and, with great enthusiasm, shared their own thoughts and ideas. Their values, attitudes and outlook on life moved us. We saw a people keen to improve their lives while remaining true to their culture and traditions. We were inspired by their resilience in overcoming adversity, passion in chasing their dreams, and generosity in helping others even though they themselves face hardship. The team returned to Singapore with a shift in perspectives and a desire to do more.
The entire Mitrataa family welcomed us with tremendous warmth and hospitality. These girls put up a spectacular performance as part of their Heartquake launch. Heartquake is a compendium of creative content commemorating the April 2015 earthquake, with many of the talented contributors being Mitrataa children.
In Durbar Square, Bhaktapur. We had a treasure hunt around this UNESCO World Heritage Site with the Mitrataa children who lived in the area.
Group discussion at our workshop on presentation skills. This group decided to present on an issue close to home – girls trafficking.
At the Bal Prativa school in Panchkal, some three hours out of Kathmandu. Mitrataa provides this community school with teaching resources, supported by Wiley funding.
Precious smiles. Spending time with these children brought us a new perspective in appreciating the simple joys in life.
Images Credit: Lisa Rahmat