Last year we appointed Roma Bhandaree as a Deputy Director to ChoraChori-Nepal. Since then her feet haven’t touched the ground and now, she has taken to writing as part of The Big Story:
During my childhood, did I ever imagine that I would work in a humanitarian sector? No, not at all. Whenever people asked me about what I wanted to be; my simple answer would always be “a teacher” ; a teacher because it is one of the respectable and satisfying jobs. To sum up, as a child I never desired for greater things and just wanted an ordinary life; because I thought I already had the best things in life, more than I could have wished for.
After I completed my high school, I had to make a choice on my major and there I was feeling indifferent about all the subjects. Social work was just an easy option for me to take upon, and also it was gaining a sort of popularity for its practical works. So, I got enrolled in one of the social work colleges during which I had the chance to intern in four different NGOs in my four years of study. Coincidentally, they were all related to children and women. As I mentioned before, humanitarian work was not in my vision at all.
While growing up, I had never encountered with any kind of social problems related to abandoning of children, rape, sexual exploitation, or trafficking; all those articles and other materials about social problems I studied in school were merely stories for me. So, what I came across in those NGOs was a totally different reality from what I had imagined my whole life. The unexpected truth hit me hard when I realised the stories that I read in books and magazines were all true, and there are many people out there who are actually going through all those sufferings.
It is said that there has to be an incident for someone to have a change of heart, and so it happened to me as well. It was one usual day in one of the NGOs where I had to travel 45 minutes by scooter to reach. It was just the first week of my internship over there, and my father used to call me every day to ask if I reached safely or not. That particular day, I got really annoyed by him because he was treating me like a child. I was complaining about him a lot after this phone call, and just then one of the staff members who was also a former beneficiary of that NGO turned to me and gently said “At least your father calls you, it’s been years since my father called me!” I sat speechless there as her few words made me realise what I was blessed with. What I had taken for granted was someone else’s biggest wish. I would say this was the point from where my passion for social work began.
In every of those NGOs, every child had their own dreadful stories with which they had to live their lives forever. Whenever I used to learn about their background and stories, I wondered if these children would ever be able to come out of those distress but thankfully I was wrong. With love and support from social workers, their lives had turned into something more positive despite the hardships they had gone through. They were able to start their education, learn new ideas, wear clean clothes and eat healthy food. Most importantly, even though everyone had their own individual hardships, it was really easy for them to accept their problems through togetherness as they knew they were not the only one to suffer. I have now understood that working with children is one of the greatest escapes from chaotic life. Working for children has taught me resilience, patience, acceptance and a real meaning of love towards one another. I have realised that one has to face every problem in life with courage because tackling those problems brings out a whole new person within oneself.
It’s surreal how I have completely changed my perception towards life and humanity; how I have come to understand that one is not to judge any person for their past experiences; this is perhaps one of the best things I have learned and will carry along throughout my lifetime. I am thankful to all those invisible magnets that pulled me towards this beautiful work that centralises in helping people in need. It is a sigh of relief that due to my small effort, it gives someone’s life a ray of HOPE.