The Little Sisters Fund was founded in 1998 by Usha Acharya and Trevor Patzer. The seeds of the passion that fueled the effort, however, were planted much earlier, as both founders had received generous assistance for their own schooling.
When Trevor was a young teenager, a family friend offered to financially support his education at boarding school if he could gain admission. In 1989, Trevor was accepted and, true to his word, the family friend generously paid for Trevor’s education at St. Paul’s, an experience that deeply impacted Trevor. From his first day at the school, Trevor had in the back of his mind the idea that one day he support someone else’s education, just as his own had been supported.
Usha, for her part, also received a lucky opportunity for education as a young girl. The daughter of village parents who could not read or write, Usha went to Kathmandu to be a friendly companion to the child bride of a close relative. In return, she got to go to school. Eventually, she finished first in her class in university and then became the first woman from her village to earn a master’s degree (her first of two).
Later, while working at the Harvard Institute for International Development in 1996, Usha received a letter from Nepal, which she happened to open while at lunch with her friend Kay. The letter was from a mother of three girls, and it described all of the hardships she was facing trying to send her girls to school in Kathmandu. Upon seeing a picture of the three girls, Kay jokingly said she wanted to adopt the youngest girl. Knowing that the mother would never separate herself from her children, Usha instead suggested that her friend could support the girl’s education.
Usha returned to Nepal at the end of same year, 1996, and became more involved with organizations working on the issues of girls trafficking and child labor in Nepal, quickly establishing herself as a leader and expert on the topic, publishing books and articles.
In 1998, fate and a mutual friend connected Usha and Trevor in Nepal. While together, they discussed the many risks and challenges facing girls in Nepal and the importance of education. Usha also introduced Trevor to Bindhaya, and he committed to supporting her education.