"The hardships that my family and I had to face have always been the inspiring factor for my hard work, but I have come a long way. I grew up in a family that were not only poor but were also treated as untouchables because we were one of the lower castes (in South Asian countries caste stigmatisation is common). I am now studying in the UK on a two-year Pestalozzi scholarship. I wouldn't be where I am today without the help of SOS Children, who sponsored twelve years of my education.
I have some unpleasant memories of my childhood. None of the other children would play with me, or even eat with me because my surname was from a lower caste. I pleaded my mother to let me change my surname but she told me that the only thing that I had to do was to concentrate on my studies. My mother was a single parent and worked as a labourer. She could never have afforded my schooling but I was fortunate to get a scholarship from the SOS School, Sanothimi.
The academic, sporting and social opportunities that I got at my SOS School were amazing and it all helped me grow as a person and gain a few friends. One of my most special memories was when I came top in the SLC (Secondary level Board) examination and, hearing this, my mother started crying with happiness.
After my SLC examination, my school encouraged me to sit the Pestalozzi Scholarship test. I was selected and am currently in the UK doing the second year of the International Baccalaureate Diploma. The opportunities that I have here are amazing; including basketball lessons, swimming lessons, volunteering at St. Michaels Hospice and piano lessons. I am now in the process of applying to study pre-law at a university in the US, UK or Germany.
I can see the difference SOS Children has brought about in me. The quiet and shy girl has been transformed into a confident, responsible young adult. SOS Children provided me with the opportunity that would otherwise have been denied to someone of my caste and economic status. They have not only supported me but also my brother and my sister. The only way I could repay SOS Children is through helping other people who are in a similar situation to the one I faced.
I intend to be a role model for the Dalit community, to show them that a Dalit person can do anything if they get the chance. I believe education is the right path to achieve this. I want to show my society that people should not be judged by their surnames. No child should ever have to ask their parents to change their surname, as I once did."
SOS Children have been working in Nepal in the 1970s. There are now nine SOS Children's Villages which are altogether home to over 1000 children and young people. We also run a variety of social, medical and educational facilities which support local communities.