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A Big Girl Now

Mandira Khadka, 19, lives with her mother, elder brother, and sister in Godawari—a village on the outskirts of Kathmandu, Capital of Nepal. She is an undergraduate at a local college. Mandira’s father married another woman when she was two years old and abandoned the entire family. Ever since, Mandira’s mother, Geeta, has run the household.

Geeta cultivates paddy and wheat in an irrigable field of 0.13 acres (1 ropani) and millet and maize in sloped land of almost an equal size. The harvest lasts for three months only and for nine months in a year, they have to depend on the market. As Geeta is illiterate and lacks vocational skills, she had no other option apart from subsistence agriculture and daily wage labor. With low income and agricultural production, it was difficult to even manage two square meals for the entire family.

Although Geeta was poor and struggling financially, she valued education so she enrolled her children in a public school. In order to earn her keep, she kept a few cows and sold milk to a dairy. Despite all her efforts at providing a good education to her children, she could not even provide educational materials to her children sometimes.

In 2010, while Mandira was in grade five, she was enrolled in GNI Nepal’s sponsorship service program and started to receive educational materials: stationeries, school uniform, and personal hygiene products. Motivation and counseling were also periodically provided to her. As Mandira’s education till grade ten was taken care of by GNI Nepal, Geeta was relieved of a huge financial and mental burden.

In the following years, Mandira blossomed in all aspects of her academics and personality. She became a serious, sincere, and determined student and eagerly participated in the extracurricular activities: quiz competition, cultural dance program, sports competition (football, skipping, high jump, long jump) and many more programs organized by the school and GNI Nepal.

Not only she put efforts into education and extra-curricular events but activism also through a GNI Nepal supported child club based at her school. As a treasurer and active member of the club, Mandira hosted quiz competitions, school sanitation events, cultural shows, singing contests, and conducted the club’s regular events and programs.

In 2012, she anchored her school’s parents’ day function. Later the same year she got an opportunity to participate in a leadership skills development and water purification method training funded by GNI Nepal. In her activist role, she acted in different street dramas carrying messages of adolescence, against alcoholism and poor community sanitation staged by the child club based at her school and funded by GNI Nepal.

Being the hardworking person she is, as expected by her mother and teachers, she scored 64.5% in her School Leaving Certificate (grade ten) exams, a remarkable achievement indeed for a daughter of a poor and illiterate mother. She majored in mass-communication and sociology in her 10+2 (grade 11 and 12) with an aggregate score of 57.8%. At present, she is a first year Bachelors of Arts in Social Work (BASW) student.

In 2016, GNI Nepal changed its working modality and for the first time, the organization mobilized volunteers to conduct sponsorship service related activities. Valley Community Development Project recruited former sponsored children as mobilizers and Mandira was one of them. She collected data on sponsored children for annual progress reports 2017, annual child letters 2017, and annual progress report 2018.

As she possesses good computer skills, she was hired for entering GNI Nepal’s household survey data. Based on her performance, she was again hired for entering Valley Community Development Project’s  entire school profile data. And, one more time she was roped-in for annual progress reports 2018’s data entry. She dutifully and excellently carried-out the data-entry and screened the data. These short-term assignments earned her twenty-four thousand rupees which she spent on college fees, dresses, daily expenses, and household items.

“GNI Nepal has supported me since when I was quite young to this day. When my family was suffering from financial problems, GNI Nepal sponsored my education.”, Mandira said, “From school days to until now, I got lots of opportunities to grow. Now, I have a sense of satisfaction, as I can be independent and also support my family.”

Currently, Mandira works part-time for a GNI Nepal funded organization. And, her mother and siblings are very happy with her achievements. She plans to finish her BASW studies and make a career in professional social work.

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