In Her Own Words: Shweta’s Story
“Hey, wash those dishes properly,” a lady shouted. “I stumbled and the glass I was washing broke and shattered into pieces. I was taken aback, scolded and I had to sleep outside the house,” my mom continued, her voice carrying the weight of that painful memory. A tear dopped from my eye. It was so heartbreaking listening her.
As she told us this story, I could feel the sting of poverty even though I was only 7 years old. Suddenly, not knowing anything about the complexities of the adult world, I asked, “Are we poor, Mom?” She stuttered for a second and there was a shift in her expression. She smiled. Her honesty cutting through the air, she answered, “Yes, we are. But it’ll be so soon that both of my daughters will study hard, make your dad and I proud, and we will all live a good life.”
From that day on, I knew the power money holds and how so many things are only possible if you are focused on studying. I was keen to learn new things and understand how one individual can shape a whole community. I was always a high achiever in school. I still remember vividly when I achieved top student in Class 2 in Takshashila Academy. I could tell my parents were proud of me. Since then, there was no looking back. I knew my education would always be my foremost priority.
As you know, life has uncertainties of its own. My dad was the sole breadwinner in the family, but he lost his job when I was 10, studying in 4th grade. It was one of the lowest points of our lives. We did not have a source of income and no way to pay school tuition for me and my sister. We didn’t even have enough money to pay for our rent and food. It was during this time that one of the teachers at my school suggested my father inquire about the Little Sisters Fund (LSF), an organization helping underprivileged girls in Nepal. My dad talked to Usha didi and I remember very clearly being called to the LSF office in the middle of one of my classes. I was asked, “Do you want to study?” Within a second, without a second thought, I said, “YES!” That yes changed my entire life. From that point on, I received financial support for my schooling. I could now study without worrying about anything.
But there is so much more to LSF. I met a lot of new people, new friends, new sisters (didis, as we would say). I was assigned a sponsor, Sasha Coates and her family, from Singapore. I used to write letters telling her about me, my days in Nepal including my plans for study, family and much more. She would reply with a lot of fun vacation stories and her study plans as well. I was always thrilled to learn about her and her family.
With the help of LSF, I was able to complete 10th grade from Reliance International Academy with a 3.95 GPA (A+). Soon after, I started teaching students in their houses to earn money to help my dad pay for my sister’s education fees. I chose to study in the science track for 11th and 12th grade. LSF was there to hold my hand all the way through to the end of my high school days. I studied quite hard, and I remember my dad saying, “You are the son of our family, Shweta. Whatever our so called ‘relatives’ say, you focus on your study”. I was thrilled when I viewed my results on Nepal’s National Examination Board’s website, I got a 3.70 GPA(A+) in my science studies. I was so proud of myself that day, thinking all my hard work had paid off.
Currently, I am studying nursing at Truman State University in Missouri, USA. I am already done with my first semester and guess what? A perfect GPA; a 4.00. I know there are a lot more semesters to go but I know for sure nursing is what I am supposed to be doing for the rest of my life.
Financially, it is still difficult for me to support myself and study at the same time. But LSF has been there for me again. I was able to spend this winter (Dec 2023-Jan 2024) with Trevor Patzer (Trevor dai to all of us Little Sisters), one of the founders of LSF, and his family. He has been a great inspiration to me. He told me that a family friend, Ric Ohrstrom, once told him that making a positive difference in just one person’s life would make his own life worthwhile. “I hope everybody can find that for themselves,” Trevor dai shared. It’s a simple yet powerful idea.
Looking back, I realize that without the support of my parents and LSF I would not be where I am today. I still have miles to go, yet I am so grateful to be part of this wonderful organization which changes the fate of so many girls in Nepal. I promise myself to never let down anyone who has helped me grow into who I am today and who I will be tomorrow.