“Born and raised in a Dalit community in rural Terai of Nepal, I never imagined living my life this freely and being able to fulfill my dreams.” Puja, Nepal 

Read about Puja’s journey of overcoming obstacles to get a great education, training to be a UWS Fellow and becoming a champion for girls’ education and access to schooling for marginalised children.

“There are five members in my family: my father, mother, brother, sister and myself. My parents, especially my mother, are my biggest inspirations and the reasons for who and where I am today.  'An educated mother can make the whole family educated' is a quote that can best describe my mother and her outlook on her and her children’s lives. During a time when most parents did not understand the need to send their daughters to schools, it was my mother who always insisted that me and my sister should receive an education just like our brother.


My two siblings and I attended English schools until the one that I was attending got closed down due to the insurgency and the Nepalese Civil War. Along with my siblings and I, many students were left with no option but to transfer to different schools. It was then that my parents decided to move from our small village to Simara (a larger town) where we could go to school and obtain a quality education. My parents’ decision to move to a town brought many opportunities and new possibilities into our lives. We were in a new place where we would get access to a good education and a healthy environment.

I passed Secondary School and Higher Secondary Level School (the equivalent of A-levels) with good grades. Then, I decided to go to university and get a degree. At that time, there was only one university in my town with a very few number of courses to choose from. Although I joined the university, I was not happy with that decision. I wanted to travel, explore and learn beyond societal limitations and boundaries. However, I was too scared to confront my parents about it. No girl in my circle of friends, or in the community would even dare to ask their parents for a night out let alone go to Kathmandu, the capital, by oneself and study there. 

At some point, I couldn't concentrate on my studies anymore because my dream of attending a university in Kathmandu started getting bigger and bigger. I decided to take a gap year and confront my parents with the idea that I wanted to go and attend a university in Kathmandu. There were many people in the community who told my parents to get me married rather than allow me to go in pursuit of my dream.

However, in 2016, with the fullest support of my family, I came to Kathmandu to pursue my dreams. I chose Social Work as my major subject in my bachelor degree program. Coming to Kathmandu and pursuing my education has changed me in various ways. From taking care of myself to learning to handle problems on my own, unlike in the past where I ran to my parents with the smallest problems, I have become independent.

"I have worked tirelessly to prove that the people in my community who think girls should not get an education are wrong."

From being a shy girl from a small village to sharing my ideas and views with people on various platforms, I have become confident. Since the beginning, I have worked tirelessly to prove that the people in my community who think girls should not get an education are wrong.

After completing my bachelor’s degree program, I decided to join United World Schools Nepal as a Fellow because I have always wanted to give back to the community. I had the privilege to get an education but that is not the case for thousands of children in Nepal. There are many who do not have the same privileges as mine, and this gives me the motivation and determination to keep pushing forward so that no child is left behind or has to give up their chance of getting education just because they belong to marginalized or minority groups.

After coming to the field, I was amazed to find that many Dalit children look up to me as an role model. These children further motivated me to do the best I can to light the candle of hope and bring bright smiles on their face.”

Puja’s story highlights the importance of lifting up communities through passionate Fellows and local champions, who understand education’s transformative power and can inspire future generations through teaching. 


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