Why I Support Empower Nepali Girls
Empower Nepali Girls is somewhat unique in that we invite our donors to play an active role in developing mentoring relationships with our scholarship girls. While continued funding is critical to the well-being and future dreams of our girls, they desperately need help with their studies and guidance for their future careers. In many cases they have never encountered professional women before who have ambitions and successful careers. Each year we invite a group of our donors to see, first-hand, what their support is doing to enrich the lives of the children. We conduct home visits of every girl in our program, visit their schools, consult with their teachers, spend time working with them on their studies. Volunteers and team members are thus able to act as witnesses to the power of their support, reporting back to their donors exactly where and how monies and resources are being spent. These relationships between volunteers and the girls continue long after the trip ends though ongoing communication on social media and email. Many of our team members choose to return every few years to check on the girls.
When I think back to my trip in Nepal, the first thing that always comes to my mind is the genuine happiness and love for life that I witnessed there. I was amazed that the people of Nepal have so little in terms of material goods, yet they seem so much happier than people in America. I was shocked. How can they be so poor yet so extremely positive and appreciative of life? One girl I met in Nepal showed me her bedroom in which two wooden carvings were displayed on her shelves; they were her only possessions. Other children ran in amazement to view the photographs I had captured because they had never seen their pictures before. Most of the people I met do not know what it is like to take a hot shower, lay on a soft mattress, or use a flushing toilet. Yet, over my time in Nepal, the reasons for this positive outlook became clear. Sure, they do not own much in terms of possessions, but their lives are so much richer than anything money can buy. Why? The people of Nepal live in the moment! With no radios, they join together in groups to sing songs of their own. They value relationships and human connection. I experienced so much love and affection from everyone I met in Nepal, embraced with hugs wherever I went. I was in awe of the honest and caring conversations I had with the girls in Nepal. It did not matter that I was a stranger; they welcomed me with kindness and made me feel loved. Lastly, they see more to life. In America, I find myself getting so caught up in my busy work schedule, my meaningless frustrations like sitting in traffic, and my “first world problems” like the waiter not refilling my drink fast enough. In Nepal, I saw people slowing down to appreciate the truly important matters in life. I witnessed the people of Nepal appreciating the beauty of nature, taking time to engage in meaningful conversations, and letting go of all trivial worries as they sang and danced with a freedom I have never known. In Nepal, I saw people who were driven by their hearts rather than a need for money, possessions or success. I was lucky enough to travel to Nepal and experience this overwhelming feeling of love. The people of Nepal, especially the girls, inspired me to see the bigger picture of life and what really matters: our relationships, appreciating the world that surrounds us, choosing to be positive and kind, and truly engaging in the present moment. I would encourage anyone who wants to expand his or her mind to a new appreciation for life to travel to Nepal and work toward this wonderful cause. The money that you raise is necessary for these girls to reach their dreams. Instead of spending money on more unnecessary “things,” help raise money that will change these girls’ lives and allow them to have a future. The girls are so dedicated to making a difference in the world and no one deserves this chance more than they do. They appreciate the opportunity to achieve their dreams more than you could ever imagine.
I was taught that in order to be successful in life, you have to give back because there is always someone who needs something more than you. I went to Nepal with no idea what to expect and the life experience I came home with was more than I could have imagined. The girls we visited loved American music and had crushes on boys, but more than anything, they wanted to learn and have the same opportunities as their male counterparts. They were so proud of their schoolwork and so grateful to have people recognize their accomplishments. Now that I’m back home, I keep pictures of the girls in my room and try to think of them when I find myself grumbling about life’s small annoyances. I realize how fortunate I am to have access to education and many luxuries that girls in Nepal go without. I try to not take anything for granted and want to help remind people how important it is to remember those who need our support. I love sharing the mission of Empower Nepali Girls and try to do so via word of mouth, social media, and the email campaigns that we send to subscribers.
Now that I am home and fully immersed back into my busy life, I remain involved in the mission by coordinating all the social media for ENG and editing our newsletter.
When I decided to join the 2011 Empower Nepali Girls trip to Nepal for two reasons; one I have always wanted to see that part of the world, and two I thought this would be the life-altering experience I had been searching for. In short, I initially set off on this adventure to fulfill something inside myself that yearned for meaning. I will tell you that I did not find enlightenment or any profound understanding of life. However, I did learn a very powerful lesson, that life isn’t necessarily about you (or me). I realized this in a moment when I was sharing tea with two young girls. They didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Nepali, but in that moment there was a connection between us as people–not me as this person giving charity, and not them receiving it, but simply three people enjoying an authentic and intimate experience together. In that moment I realized more about myself while serving someone else than I ever have by serving myself.
There is a certain vulnerability created in traveling that I believe allows us to see ourselves and others in a new light. It isn’t the travel that changed me, but the opportunity that the travel offered. Working with Empower Nepali Girls has given me the chance to engage as aspect of humanity like I never have experienced before. I have been challenged to work outside of my comfort zone and to find new strengths and resolve. It has been the experience of working directly with the girls and their families that has motivated me to stay involved and committed to raising awareness and funds so that each of these girls, and subsequently their families and surrounding communities, are given their own opportunities to experience life as they choose. As an ENG team member I feel as though I am part of an extended family, all working toward the greater good. Not just in Nepal, but worldwide. I know that many people volunteer to work for ENG for a short period of time and then move on to others adventures and interests but I will remain haunted by what I felt being with the girls and intend to keep them as a part of my life as long as I live. I may not have the chance to return to Nepal again in the future but I intend to remain as involved as I can sharing their stories and advocating on their behalf: their lives hang in the balance.