By Tulsi R. Maharjan, Rotary Club of Branchburg
Asha is the Nepali word for “HOPE.” When we think about what motivates us to serve, we are drawn to this word, which is the name of my current mission, the Asha Project. To us, hope and opportunity are really at the core of Rotary’s mission. It is what motivates us to help the people of Nepal.
Hope and opportunity brought me to America 45 years ago and I always wanted to do something for the less fortunate in Nepal. Now, my son, Anil, has joined me as an E-club member in our district to assist with this project. We will be taking our third humanitarian mission in early February 2017. While there, we will also celebrate the silver jubilee of our humanitarian work in Nepal.
For over 25 years, the Rotary Club of Branchburg and District 7510 has been working to provide scholarship funds, micro-credit loans, and training programs through international grants. Our collaborative projects partner with many community organizations to create a new network of hope.
We formally created The Asha Project in response to the April 2015 earthquake in Nepal. In March 2016, we traveled to Nepal with the goal of rebuilding homes. When we visiting a rebuilding project, we spoke with many people in the community and they told us that they were interested in opportunities to work cooperatively with other organizations.
We realized that house building was not enough. For a country that has spent decades dealing with political turmoil and economic instability, we recognized that simply resetting life to what it was like prior to the earthquake was only a beginning.
This is why the three pillars of the Asha project are: building homes to help create stronger families, creating $100,000 microcredit loans to provide a prosperous future and grow micro-businesses, and providing Rays of Hope scholarships for under-represented ethnic groups.
We are furthering our collaboration by sending eight Rotaract students to volunteer in Nepal during their winter break. We also recently welcomed a student from Nepal to complete his master’s program in health management funded by a global grant scholarship. We are working on several digital divide computer projects to connect these students with the outside world as part of District 3292’s Total Literacy Project.
With our patience and persistence, we have been able to complete many humanitarian projects in Nepal. With everyone’s support, hard work and dedication many children in Nepal will have an opportunity to be what they wish to become. Let’s spread the message that though Rotary we can provide hope and opportunities for millions of people around the world. That’s what Rotary has done through the Rotary Foundation for the past 100 years.
Tulsi R. Maharjan, Ph.D., is a past district governor and charter member of the Rotary club of Branchburg. Anil E. Maharjan is a member of the E-club of Rotary District 7510, USA.