Students in a schoolEcho Zhang

Translated from the Chinese

It was at Thamel Kathmandu that I first met Dhruba Prasad Ghimire. He and Uma, his wife, took a one-hour bus ride from Chabahil to pick me up. This tall thin man is the initiator of RUWON – the Rural Women’s Network, Nepal. Today hundreds of women in the area take various classes in the Nepali language, English, mathematics and dance from 5pm till 8pm every Sunday to Friday at Sagarmatham, a local primary school.

RUWON, an organisation whose mission is to give value to the lives of Nepali women, has been established for four years. Today it has two branches in Nepal: one in Sindhuli, Dhruba’s hometown and the other in the country’s capital, Kathmandu. Dhruba works full time in the organisation, helped by ten volunteers who form the majority of staff in both branches.

The organisation arranges classes in small classrooms lent by the Sagarmartha primary school, where the school principal and seven young teachers give classes to around two hundred women. Teaching in their spare time, these volunteers take this work seriously. Along with free classes, RUWON also organises training in speaking skills and public events intended to arouse public awareness of women’s rights.

Dhruba Ghimire

Dhruba could have been a successful professor instead of choosing to devote himself to the education of Nepali women. To a large extent his decision to do so can be traced back to the influence of two women: his mother, Indra Ghimire, and his wife, Uma Ghimire. ‘I could never have made a success of my education and my career without the support of these two women,’ said Dhruba.

Indra, a village woman, can only write her name. She encouraged her son to teach women how to read and write while he was still at school. Starting when he was fifteen years old, Dhruba tutored nearly 400 children from poor neighbourhoods. Immediately after obtaining a master’s degree in education, he founded a private school specialising in improving women’s personal skills and leadership techniques. While Dhruba’s father never encouraged him to teach women in the village for free, his mother implanted in him the belief that ‘Education brings changes’. As well as giving financial support, this uneducated woman contributes to her son’s career in her own way. 

The Ghimire FamilyDhruba Prasad Ghimire, his father Shanti Lal Ghimire, his mother Indra Maya Ghimire and his wife Uma Ghimire

‘If she had been educated,’ Dhruba said, ‘she would have joined me in my career right away and have been one of the best at it.’ Having benefited from his mother’s open-minded attitudes since his birth, Dhruba wants to promote education and disseminate the idea that ‘education improves lives’ among Nepali mothers. He believes that mothers are the best teachers because of the importance of the role they play during the growth of their children, and that an open-minded mother can give her children hope.

Uma, Dhruba’s wife, by contrast, is more of a colleague. She was there when RUWON Nepal was conceived and she worked closely with her husband in setting up the organisation. She has been Dhruba’s best friend since his childhood, and now she not only takes care of the family, but is also in charge of the organisation’s propaganda work. ‘Some people find it odd that my wife and I work together for a common cause, and some are even hostile. But we ourselves don’t feel the slightest awkwardness in working together for the well-being of Nepali women,” Dhruba said.

Dhruba is able to his put his dream into practice, thanks to the support of these two women. Dhruba’s story reminds me of another important figure for me, director An Li. Both men suffered long periods of despair while pursuing their dreams, and both men have been able to persist in the pursuit of their objectives because of material and spiritual support from the women behind them. Persistence may not guarantee success, but success is impossible without persistence.

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