My heart is full of admiration for three girls whose courage and dedication have helped to change the lives of cleft palate children and young pupils.
They reside in Nepal, one of the planet's most beautiful states. It's been known as a "Tiny Mountain Kingdom" and is full of raw all-natural beauty. Nepal's crown jewel, Mt. Everest, is located among the greatest peaks of the Himalayas extending the length of the nation. Despite Nepal's ancient temples, and magnificent vistas it's experiencing a brutal civil war in which an estimated thirteen million have been killed in the last nine decades. The team that has suffered most are villagers out Kathmandu. The funding is Kathmandu and is quite distinct from the rural areas. It is a city which was noted at a new novel "The City Book" as being the fourteenth top town on the planet. However, if one leaves the boundaries of Kathmandu it is a very primitive Earth, much as it was eighty years ago.
I first met Lela once I went to Nepal as a Peace Corps volunteer in 1996. She was from a local village. Sweet and very shy, she tended to erupt in fits of giggles every time the spotlight centered on her. She had an equal of a third grade education, such as many of her peers. Seventy-two of those girls in Nepal are illiterate. Lela and another girl took the initial group of children in need of cleft palate operation as well as their guardians to the hospital. It took the small group of twelve people seventeen hours in an old bus over tiny mountain roads to arrive at the hospital. One dad carried his three-year old daughter for 3 days to satisfy the bus to begin the journey with the others. Another child came with her grandma who wore a pair of plastic flip flops on her feet.
Lela quickly took charge at the start of the first trip. She and her husband Purna have lasted the program over the years. Lela has enhanced her own education and changed the lives of over 250 kids. She finds children hidden away in remote villages that endure the humiliation of their look as well as being considered "evil" because they "had to be very bad in their last life to appear with a deformity in this life". Nepal is a Hindu/Buddhist country that retains reincarnation as a literal truth.
Since the war in Nepal escalated the Maoist "People's Liberation Army" began to take hold in Lela's much western home. Gradually the help agencies and health services in their area began to leave. Lela, with the assistance of Purna, has lasted the excursions through war torn villages with buses being searched by the government and Maoist armies as they passed through lands held by each army. Lela carried the money to cover lodging and food for the whole group inside her bra because the banks were dangerous as the streets. Lela and her husband continue to bring kids into Kathmandu for operation despite the peril.
Nirmala, our next heroine, manages the instruction program that meets the needs of high school students in the town of Surkhet and several technical and college students in Kathmandu. In a time when it is dangerous to have a political stand, she is outspoken and exceptionally protective of the young girls who often have no other advocate. Nirmala has appointed herself the mother hen and protector watch dog of these young women. Occasionally she's taken homeless students in under her own roof.
No one understands the status of destitute children in the area as well and few are as dedicated in helping them get a leg up and from poverty with a promise of little or no control over their own life. Nirmala stretches the purse strings of our program hoping to help as many students as she can. She also carries money to pay for the scholarships in her bra over the very long bus journey from Kathmandu. In Nepal social work is not a profession. The definition of a "social worker" is someone who does good works. Nirmala, in the truest sense, is a Social Worker.
The last heroine is extremely different from Lela and Nirmala. Meghna was educated in India. She is a bright, worldly young woman who is as at home in a pair of jeans as a company dress. Few women in her country have matched her achievements. A friend own their own firm, Weaves and Blends. They have exceptionally skilled weavers using wooden hand looms to weave exceptionally soft fibers to scarves and other clothes. They show their work at high end fashion shows in Paris, London and New York.
Does she hold a complex business together coping with looking out quality materials, handling highly skilled weavers, anticipating fluctuating markets and taste, and import/export issues but she also meets the hardest challenge which is running a business in a country that is absorbed by war. In addition to this astonishing schedule, Meghna takes her "free" time to coordinate hospital visits, protected hotel rooms for the parents of cleft children, meeting students wishing to enter technical program or faculty and retains complex financial documents that would impress any CPA. The most telling thing about Meghna is that she takes her valuable time to greet the young patients in the hospital using ice cream.
To most of the kids Meghna, Lela and Nirmala offer them their first taste of a better life! Both of these apps are modest and influence people whose lives we'll never hear about. But these three girls are truly unsung heroes.
I hatched the assumption for Mahila, a Tiny Connecticut-based jewelry firm, on the floor at the Peace Corps centre in Katmandu, Nepal. I'd no business background, no previous entrepreneurial ambition or skills. I'd fallen in love with all the folks, the jewelry and the many kids needing to change their lives through education or a cleft palate surgery. A social worker by background, I arrived home and took wreck business courses but mostly learned by the seat of my trousers. I started Mahila as a house party company. I knew that we had a web site but was reluctant because I had been terrified it wouldn't be able to inform customers what we did "with heart". I was incorrect; it really tells our story. To know more information click Bulova Diamond Collection