When the rest of us are busy with our work, families and taking care of petty things like a raise or a new car, there is one lady who is trying to make this world a better place to live. Like every married woman, Srijana Sharma lives with her family and has two lovely sons. But she also has a vision for orphaned children of Nepal. Sharma is not an elderly citizen trying to pass her time doing some social work, nor is she chasing fame or recognition, most

apparently. She is but a girl next door, albeit grown up, trying to get shelter, food and clothing to those children faced with the stark reality of life. What made Sharma reach out and help people in need, one might wonder. “It’s compassion. I guess that is what we ought to have as human beings. I believe a lot in Lord Buddha’s teaching and among them his teaching of compassion touched my heart,” says Sharma. Even as a small girl she was much affected when she saw people around starving. She grew up watching and learning a lot from her father, who was then working with UNDP.

“My father has been a great inspiration for me. It is from him that I learnt that we have to give as much as we take in a lifetime,” says Sharma. Sharma’s first foray into social work was with an orphanage at Jhapasi, which she heard was not in good condition. “My heart cried out when I saw their state. The people who had opened the orphanage were, themselves, in dire need for nutritious food and adequate shelter. It was sad to see children in such isolation, with no help from any organisation whatsoever. Some had lost their innocence,” says Sharma. Sharma went out of her way providing them food, shelter and clothing at Humanitarian Concern Centre. After months of hard work and sheer dedication, she was able to ensure a good building for them to live in. Even today, Sharma constantly looks out for people who are ready to help them. But later in life she wants to open an orphanage of her own. “I have planned to open Alliance for Child Welfare but then I am involved with the Humanitarian Concern Centre now and I would like to work with them now,” says Sharma.

One morning, Sharma saw the photograph of an unemployed woman with three children living on the roads of the capital for six days without food on the pages of The Himalayan Times. The woman had come to Kathmandu seeking treatment for one of her children’s eye problem as he was slowly going blind. She thought he had an eye infection. Now her youngest child was starving to death in her arms. Sharma found them, spoke to Bal Mandir and helped the group get into a Child Protection Home at Sifal. It turned out that the boy was going blind dur to Vitamin A deficiency. Had he been found and treated a few days later, it would have been to no avail as the condition is irreversible. Sharma did not stop here. She makes frequent visits and phone calls to the organisation to find out if they are happy there.

“They seem to have settled down. They are happy. Her elder son is going to school and lives at Humanitarian Centre and the other two children live with her. “But at the same time I have been trying to help her get a job so that she becomes independent and can look after her children,” says Sharma. Sharma has taken up a truly challenging job but she feels fortunate that her family supports her decision and tries to help her in every step she takes to make her dream a reality.

Indira Poudel speaks

With no food to eat and feed her three children, no home and an absconding husband, Indira Poudel had no other option but to turn to her distant relative living in Kathmandu. But fate had different things in store. When she reached Kathmandu, Poudel found out that her relative was away and would not be returning for weeks. Not knowing what to do, she walked with her children on the roads and when they could not walk anymore, they huddled in a corner of a street. “People saw us and they thought I was drunk. Some threw a few coins at us. Some gave stale bread. There was one man who came along and took our photograph as I wondered how that would help us anyway. Later I realised that he was a messiah sent by God. If it had not been for him, Srijana would have not known about our condition and we would still be on streets begging. My youngest son would not have lived to see this day. I am very grateful to Rajesh Gurung and Srijana Sharma for what we are today,” says Poudel.