Sometimes you can be part of a truly uplifting story, one that makes you a better person. Four years ago when I visited Nepal, my sister had recently opened a small school in the house where we grew up in Kathmandu. She had 50 students from the neighbourhood, including five Bal Mandir orphans on scholarship. Each morning I awoke to the sounds of children learning and playing. The children from Bal Mandir in particular caught my attention-they were immersed in all the school activities with an intensity that probably came from knowing about tough times in an orphanage. I knew I had to do something-the future of our country is in our children.
When I returned to the US, I brainstormed and spoke with friends, and decided that perhaps sponsoring children without parents to attend school was the way to go. It would cost $200 for one child to study for a year at my sister's Nabha Deepti School. My assistant pledged to sponsor the first child and I followed suit. Within a week we were supporting five children. Today there are 50 sponsored children from Bal Mandir and Prayas Nepal, a private orphanage run by dedicated young women.
Each year for what is now called Project Nepal, I help raise close to $10,000, to provide for these kids' tuition, books, uniform, and activities. Some also receive tennis instruction from my father, Hem Lama, and might well become Nepal's next champion. My passion has always been tennis. My mission now is to do what I can for the young people of Nepal, especially in the areas of education, healthcare and, of course, tennis.
Project Nepal has taught me to dream big but to start small. If every Nepali family living abroad sponsored an underprivileged child back home, thousands of young Nepalis would have undreamed-of opportunity. There are so many people who truly care about our country and about our children who are not always fortunate. You just have to ask them for help. My mother always told us to give more than we receive-she was right.
If you are interested in helping Project Nepal, email [email protected].