I cannot let the conservative mindsets stop me from my dreams. The struggles I have faced from a very early age have made me resilient and I believe I have handled those negativity with a brave heart.

In life, I’m very inspired by Malala Yousafzai, a true fighter facing conflicts due to her strong advocacy for education. Her boldness and confidence have always pushed me more to tackle my issues which seems very minor in front of her life-threatening challenges.  

One of the biggest challenges I faced was while finding my identity in my community. The community my family lives in was not that friendly to us, their hostility was something I never fully understood. The people I knew growing up were the ones who couldn’t understand the innocence of a child and blame them for something that they can’t  even comprehend. I also could not have believed it unless I had not experienced it, and it did happen to me and to my family.

When I was very young, my family was quite stable financially and we were happy with our situation. My father used to work at hydropower so we had a good source of family income. Things were great and then something happened that changed everything for my family. While at work, we lost our father at the age of 38. It was really difficult for us to come out of that incident. We lost everything that day: our happiness, love, and support. On top of that the society which had never laid a finger on us before now suddenly started to speak against us. They started blaming me, my little brother and my sisters for the demise of our father. This was the last thing I had expected from them. Our relatives wanted us to migrate out of the village.  All those things were very hurtful. The superstition and archaic beliefs that people have in rural areas are  sending wrong messages to the younger generations. This is a common story of all those children in our village who do not have parents. 

It was not only me and my siblings, it was more difficult for my mother to go through all those things. At that moment she was only the one who could look after us. She held all her courage and raised us after many hardships. It was not easy for her to raise me and my siblings as a single mother.  She always wanted us to study hard so we could bring positive change in the community. She is the one who made me believe that being aggressive at the moment or constantly clarifying your innocence will never be the ultimate solution. The appropriate solution to bring change is education. My mother always encouraged me to work hard and give my best.

All those challenges have certainly made me stronger than before and helped me to choose a better path towards my goals. I have faith that one day all my determination and hard labor will pay off and I will be able to give my mother and my siblings a life they deserve. 

-Shrijana Tamang (9th cohort)