Nepali girl wins Japanese youth award

Sadhana Thapa is the only Nepali, and the youngest one to win this award


I’m so happy and so proud,” gushes Sadhana Thapa. And why shouldn’t she be on cloud nine? After all she has won the ‘Youth Award of 21st Century - 2006’ awarded by the Foundation for Encouragement of Social Contribution (FESCO), Japan for her work in making children aware of environment conservation.

Five people have been chosen as FESCO awardees, and Sadhana stands out not only as being the only Nepali (the rest are all Japanese), she is also the youngest.

“I’ve won this award but I’d like to share it with the youth of Nepal who are doing their own thing at their own places to make a difference,” says this 19-year-old.

The award carries a cash prize of Rs 120,000 (200,000 yen), and will be given at the 2006 FESCO Award Ceremony to held in Tokyo on November 20.

Sadhana was 14 when she first visited Japan. She had already been working with the children of Jhhaukhel and trying to make that locality a plastic-free area. So, her visit opened her eyes to what more she could do. At the Everest English School where she studied, she was the vice-president of the Eco Club, and at present is working in a project with Kenaf while pursuing her studies in resource management.

The support that she received from her parents and teachers encouraged her to go on. “They all said I had the potential, and I always believed in myself that I could do anything that I wanted to,” says Sadhana of her journey. She adds that it is important that society lend support to young people who are doing something for the betterment of society and be positive about their efforts.

“In Asian countries, I’ve seen that whenever women do anything, they do not receive sufficient support. But women can do great things. All we need is our society’s positive attitude,” says Sadhana.

Her present project in Kenaf involves the Green Kenaf Club with 700 members from 23 schools of the Capital. She teaches the children the usefulness of plants in a practical manner — making them plant Kenaf plants, observe the growth and changes. “We’ve even taught them how to make paper out of these plants,” she says.

But does such a project really help in the long run? “We are trying to teach them the value of personal changes,” says Sadhana. “If one of these children eats a candy and does not litter, then his/her friend will get to see this action, and perhaps imitate it.”

Sadhana urges all the youth of Nepal to “use your time for the good of other people”.

She says, “Winning the award was not why I worked the way I did. I never expected to win any award. But because I worked for the good of others, I think I have been given this award.”

And no one can doubt that she has done us proud. Congratulations, Sadhana.