A Changing Nepal
Since a massive magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck Nepal in April, 2015, BSW student Aarati Ghimire has been working to help survivors rebuild her home country. Thanks to a partnership between the U’s College of Social Work and Hinckley Institute of Politics – as well as the financial support of a Hinckley Global Scholarship – Ms. Ghimire spent Fall Semester completing her practicum halfway around the world with CHOICE Humanitarian, in partnership with Help International.
BSW student Aarati Ghimire at the Bookmandu Nepal Library
By Aarati Ghimire, BSW Student
I’ve heard that a lot in the past year. It used to feel uncomfortable, but now it makes me smile because yes, yes I have changed!
As my three months of internship in Nepal is coming to an end this week, I am getting ready to head back to Utah. These three months have been a learning experience of bittersweet moments, personally and professionally. I aimed to serve my nation with whatever I could during this time period.
“A group of Mormon women had donated a few blankets to me to take to Nepal and give to the victims of the earthquake. As I promised those ladies that these blankets would go to the hands of the real victims, I donated a blanket to this woman.”
Early in my trip, I had the chance to visit my dad’s village. Before the earthquake, the homes were full of people and excitement, but now they feel empty. As I visited more of these broken houses throughout my practicum, I realized the disaster also highlighted aspects of inequities in Nepali society spanning geography, income, and gender. Poorer rural areas have been more adversely affected than towns and cities, due to their inferior quality of houses. When the earthquake struck, more women and girls died than men and boys, partly because of gendered roles that disproportionately assign indoor chores to women.
The death toll of young people could have been much higher, considering that nearly 7,000 schools were completely or significantly damaged. Working at different schools that were severely damaged by the earthquake gave me a feeling of accomplishment. Sharada Madhaymic Bidhyalaya was one of many schools destroyed by the earthquake. Other interns and I spent two days at the school, painting 60 donated benches and 75 donated chairs, so now students can sit with comfort as they get an education. I was also able to work directly with kids by teaching a hygiene class. They were super-excited to see a bunch of new people at their school!
Although we did not have enough funding to build a whole library, I donated funds I collected in the U.S. [approximately $1,200] to Bookmandu to help operate and manage the existing library at Ramkot. The library is open every day for two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening. The volunteer librarian, Raghu, and her sister help up to 30 kids a day with homework and extra reading. With her feedback, I bought some mind games for the kids so they can have a little fun while reading.
BSW student Aarati Ghimire with a Nepalese child.
Of all the service projects that I was involved with during my practicum, one of the projects that I will never forget is the orphanage situated at New Baneshwor. “Nandita,” one of the children from the orphanage, gives me her mischievous hug and love every time I visit. Her first question is always “Did you bring candies today?” She reminds me of my privileges every day, plus the power and need of love and care in the world. The orphanage has 60 children in total, ranging from 3 to 16 years. It runs with small donations from surrounding neighbors and a few outside donors. I wasn’t able to do a lot for the orphanage, but I was able to furnish two rooms with carpet needed for winter. I, along with my colleagues from work, performed a little musical concert for the kids on my last Saturday in Nepal. We hope they enjoyed the music and had fun with us. As they say, no act is a selfless act. There is a little selfishness of internal satisfaction while being around Nandita and the other children.
I want to make sure people know that any help counts; all we need is a little courage and kindness to spread smiles and love.
If I had not changed, I would still be working the same boring job, living the same day-to-day life. I started living my passion. A passion to help those in need. A passion to seek adventure. To live a lifestyle so full – it inspires others instead of dragging them down.
So yes, I have changed.