To Help Another ~ (Part II)

{This is a continuation from Part I. For story & photos from the initial post, please click here}

I don’t often ask for help. To ask for assistance from others, I typically need to feel convinced that there is no other option. This is not something I’m proud of, as I know with absolute certainty that there is power in community, value in support ~ We can always have a bigger impact on the world through collaboration and helping one another than trying to do it all alone.

But to receive help and support, we need to first ask for it.

Anjika (5), Anu (21) & their mother Phoolmaya.

In September 2015, Anu had been brave enough to ask me, and now I was in turn asking others. After I hit the ‘send’ button on my email to a small number of family and friends, I sat back in my chair, hoping to garner $300 CDN that would keep Anu’s family from being evicted onto the street and allow a month’s time for Anu to find a job to support her family going forward. I sat there picturing them amidst an empty kitchen and eviction on the horizon.

Phoolmaya & Anita (14)


Brother Anil (20) watches a tv set given to him by a friend as Anjika plays nearby.

It was less than ten minutes before I began to receive responses through my inbox.

As messages of support and assistance flooded my screen, I was literally moved to tears. There seemed to be nothing in that moment to do but weep in gratitude for such beautiful responses coming forth so immediately. Within the next 24 hours, I would have an account for Anu’s family that held over $1,500 CDN given by 16 dear individuals ~ five times what I had asked for.

To put this into perspective, $1,500 CDN is roughly 105,000 Nepalese rupees. Monthly rent for Anu’s family is 4,000 NPR. I now had in my hands over 2 YEARS of rent for the family. However, with an initial goal of keeping them off the street, I now began to focus upon how this money could best be used for sustainable impact and long-term change for the members of Anu’s family. I wanted more than to keep them off of the street. I wanted to see them thrive.

From the work & research I have done with others in a variety of countries, and through learning from and observing the programs of many non-profit organizations, what I know for sure is this ~ Band-aid solutions of throwing money at a problem or situation does not create lasting change. Absolutely, money is necessary, as it especially was in this case, for immediate relief. But long term and sustainable change comes from something greater ~ From empowerment, belief, education.


As I looked to Anu’s mother, Phoolmaya, who is illiterate and has a past filled with stories of hardship and limitations, I envisioned brighter futures for Anu and her siblings. Phoolmaya voiced wishes to me for her children to walk a road full of more opportunities and education than her own youth had yielded. Over our many conversations about the future, I confirmed the decision to take the extra money raised and use it to sponsor young Anjika’s education.


Phoolmaya & Anjika

The following week, Phoolmaya registered Anjika into a Montessori based school nearby that she had previously wished Anjika to attend, but did not have tuition money for.  In addition to purchasing school clothes, books and supplies, there was enough money from my family & friends’ donations to fund Anjika’s tuition for a full two years. I have since made multiple visits to the school, met Anjika’s teachers and principal, and am thrilled to see her thriving so far, in both Nepali and English studies. She is a bright light, full of joy and eager to learn. 

Anjika (5)

Besides the sponsorship for Anjika’s education, my focus remained on assisting Anu in finding a job so that she could support her family in their living expenses moving forward. Through asking my local friends for suggestions, and a winding road of discussions with Anu about her future, I became further aware of the realities of economic opportunity for women in Nepal. While I saw examples of educated women around me working in established careers, I also took note of the vast number of women selling fruits, vegetables & handicrafts on the street, doing manual labor, working tirelessly in the fields, as housekeepers, or not working outside of the home.

I attended an interview with Anu for a business initiative in the textile industry. Part way through the interview, I learned that by taking this job, Anu would be put through 3 months of local training, and upon completion would be put on a plane to Jordan to work 6 days a week sewing in a clothing factory for a total monthly salary of 20,000 NPR ($280 CDN). As we left the interview, I asked Anu how she felt about this. My heart deflated seeing her try to convince herself and me that this could somehow be an exciting adventure. Sure, she didn’t want to move to Jordan to be inside of a factory day in and out, she expressed, but she questioned what, if any, other options she had. Her demeanor revealed that she felt resigned. I later learned that there are over 2 million Nepalese citizens currently abroad as migrant workers in countries such as Jordan, Qatar, India and Malaysia, in an attempt to support their local families through manual labor, trades and domestic work. 

The prospect of Anu moving to work long hours in a factory for less than $12 CDN a day left me feeling incredibly disheartened and I did not sleep well for days. And then, just as I started to come to terms with the fact that this may actually be the best option available to her, an unexpected opportunity suddenly presented itself. A dear friend of mine whom I had previously told about Anu’s family, referenced Anu for a full time position working for a high profile employer. In Egypt.

The position was as a domestic worker, cooking, cleaning and assisting with events, and for double the salary that Anu had been offered for the factory job. She would be working with a team of other women, have holiday time and shorter hours. In comparison, this seemed like a golden opportunity. The following weeks became a whirlwind, as I would attend an interview with Anu, travel with her outside of Kathmandu to get a passport and her documents in order, go luggage shopping and get everything in order for her move.

The night before Anu was to leave, I went to her family’s home for dinner. We ate rice, dhal and chicken seated in a circle on the beds of the room. Anjika proudly showed off her new school clothes and some of her recent schoolwork. We played music, laughed, talked about how surreal it was that a mere few months ago, we didn’t even know one another.

Now, here we were. 

Anu in her family's home, the last night of our time together prior to her departure for Egypt.

Phoolmaya cooks a dinner for us over a portable propane element.

Anu and Anita help Anjika with her schoolwork.

Anu's family spend the evening together in their home, prior to her departure for Egypt.

Together on her last night before leaving the country and embarking on a new chapter. A new chapter, Anu expressed emotionally, that would not have happened were it not for me, or the people in my life who so graciously stepped forward to help.

As I left the family’s home, I hugged Anu and cried. I cried, overwhelmed by the thought of how quickly she had come into my life and now how quickly she was now leaving. The thought of not knowing when we’ll see each other in person again, and the realization that I have grown to care for her as family.

Then I thought of her words. Her expressed certainty that were it not for my help, or the help of those who I in turn asked, her family would have quite possibly been on the street as I type this. Anjika would not be in the school she is in. Anu would not be in Egypt, making enough money to create a future full of more possibility and stability than she has had before.

And so, what I feel most is thankful. Thankful that Anu sought me out, to ask me for help. Thankful that I acted, that I turned to my close friends and family to ask for their support. Thankful that they responded, and did so in such a generous way that it not only kept a roof over the heads of one family, but also changed the course of education for a young girl whose future is wide open.

This is the power of asking; The power of helping another.

Myself, Anu, Anjika & Anita.

Attending one of Anjika's school events.

A visit to Anjika's new school.

An afternoon together in Kathmandu.

{ Personal note: As written above, thank you to my family members & friends who came forward to assist this family when I asked. I love you. What a difference we can make together. xo }