The first thing you notice when you meet Bipana is not her scar, but her smile. While playing outside with her brother recently, she was attacked and bitten by a stray dog just below her eye. She had to have to a series of five painful – and expensive – post-exposure rabies injections and two weeks later, her face was still swollen.
But resiliency runs in Bipana’s family, and her disarmingly cheerful personality seems almost impossible considering the daily struggles that they face. Years ago, Bipana’s father abandoned the family, leaving her mother, Maya, as the sole provider for the children. The four of them now live together in a single room home in east Kathmandu: Maya, Bipana, older sister Sapana, and younger brotherKrishna. Maya never had the chance to go to school, and also has health problems that make it difficult to hold down a job. Having been taken advantage before in a financial scam because she was not able to protect her rights, she believes that education is the key to ensuring her children have a secure and happy future, and are able to stand up for themselves.
Neighbours, class teachers, and Maya’s former co-workers at the medical facility where she worked as a cleaner all describe the family as very honest, hard-working, and uncomplaining about their difficulties. Bipana and her siblings are passing all their classes and are very well-liked by all their teachers, who lauded Maya’s commitment to supporting her children’s education, even as she struggles just to put food on the table. They implored NCEP to help ensure that she would not have to choose between the two.
By drawing upon NCEP’s expanding network of partners, we have been able to help this family continue their truly inspiring pursuit of education despite all the difficulties they face. First, by adding Sapana as an NCEP Scholar in 2011, the family has more money to stay on top of increasing rent costs. Second, by referring them to a free, non-profit full clinic, Maya will be able to get the medication she needs to manage her health problems, and cover some of the cost of Bipana’s rabies injections. Finally, we were able to help Maya enrol in a reputable, paid vocational training and women’s empowerment program that will hopefully lead to stable employment.
Reports from Bipana and Sapana’s Field Volunteers have been very positive so far, and we will continue to provide updates as they come in.