Sunita Improves Her Community
Sunita Thapa of Taklung, Gorkha District, possesses an uncommon charisma and energy that speaks to her drive and ambition. Like most girls in her village, she grew up expecting very little—an arranged marriage at a young age, lack of access to education, and without the training to practically improve the conditions in her community. This could have easily been the story of Sunita’s life, but she had other aspirations for herself and her community.
Sunita always had an interest in health care and medicine. Although serious illness never affected her own family, Sunita noticed that the sick villagers in her community, particularly the women, did not receive proper medical attention, either because of the long distance to a provider or because of the prohibitive costs. Since families in rural Nepal tend to privilege the health care of men, they are less inclined to pay for the treatment of women. Understandably, Sunita felt helpless until she decided to become a Community Medical Assistant (CMA).
With this goal in mind, Sunita diligently studied and prepared to take the School Leaving Certificate (SLC) exam that is required to graduate from high school (roughly 18% of Nepalese students pass the exam). When she saw her passing score posted on the school bulletin board, her feelings of elation and joy were tempered by her anxieties in regard to her father’s concerns. As traditional farmers who did not have access to modern technologies, Sunita’s parents depended heavily on the labor of their children to sustain their business. So even though Sunita managed to pass the SLC exam and could now pursue her dream of becoming a CMA, her father told her to return to the farm and end her educational career.
Fortunately, ADWAN awarded Sunita an Ambitious Girls Fund scholarship of $150 a year, providing enough financial support to Sunita’s family to allow her to attend 10+2 (the equivalent of 11th and 12th grades in Nepal). 10+2 is comparable to an associate’s degree program in the United States and must be completed prior to entering college. While Nepalis must complete 10+2 in order to matriculate at college, many students in rural areas don’t have access to 10+2 programs and are consequently unable to attend college. In the case of Sunita, she wouldn’t have been able to afford the cost of tuition and room and board if it weren’t for the assistance of the Ambitious Girls Fund.
Sunita studied public health in her 10+2 program and has since entered college to pursue her dream of becoming a CMA. Emboldened by her success and ongoing commitment to helping her community, Sunita became a social mobilizer for the Local Governance and Community Development Program (LGCDP) in Gorkha District. In this role, Sunita helps villagers obtain birth and death certificates, enabling them to vote, access government programs, and give and receive inheritances (usually of property). Possessing good writing skills (only 66% of Nepalis are literate), she also writes recommendations for Gorkha residents who need assistance with their job or school applications.
Now 25, Sunita continues to work as a social mobilizer while studying for the Bachelor’s degree in Public Health on a part-time basis, expecting to graduate in 2019. Embodying courage, determination, and intelligence, Sunita is already giving back to her community as a role model for other village girls who dare to dream of a better outcome for themselves and their fellow villagers. An ADWAN scholarship of just $150 made the difference between subsistence living on a farm and a professional career!