Pocketful of Wisdom
Phurpa Sherpa, a Daayitwa Innovation Leader of the ‘Sambhav Cha’ campaign shares why education was important for her.
“Mero buwa ko thulo sapana thiyo malai padhaune,” says Phurpa Sherpa.
As a child, Phurpa had been told a number of times – good schools were far away. But she could never understand the enormity of what a ‘good school’ was; she had very little idea about the world outside Dugunaghadi, Sindhupalchowk.
Even then, life was simple for her in the small town – fields became playgrounds for her and her friends; late afternoons were idle times for people to gather around for chit-chat and for her to gaze and listen to their tall tales. But often she would hear about the opportunities in sahar: about good education that can change lives.
“Chorri Padhera thulo mannchhe bannu parcha,” her father who was also the President of the village at the time used to say to her. He wanted to give Phurpa the best education. Phurpa was one of the brightest students of her class; in grade 5 she was presented with a scholarship from Namlo Foundation which allowed her to pursue her higher education from a private school. The school was two and half-hour away from her hometown.
“ I think I began understanding then – why my father wanted, so badly, to give me a good education. After I shifted to a private school, I saw a whole new side of the world – an ambitious world of scores and growth; a life that endeavored towards an ultimate greatness,” says Phurpa.
Phurpa was a studious student. She immersed herself in books rather than playing with her friends. By her teenage years, she had already started getting scholarships. She became a district topper in her S.L.C exam. “ I realized the only way I could change my circumstance was to study, the only way I could start to bring little change in my small village was to persevere forward in my education,” says Phurpa.
“I remember wanting to be a doctor as a child – but growing up I started to realize that I was more interested in social development, environment and understanding livelihood than human anatomy,” says Phurpa. Recently, Phurpa finished her Bachelors in Environment Science. Two years back, she had also received Chandra Gurung Memorial Fellowship Fund through WWF – a sponsorship provided to conservationists from Nepal to pursue their higher studies in the conservation-related field. Currently, she is pursuing her Master’s degree from Golden Gate International College.
“ No matter what we do in life – although you would think that our environment doesn’t necessarily affect our daily lives – I think it does. However, with time I have come to understand that as people, earning for a living takes our whole life and perhaps, that is why protecting our biodiversity never even comes to our mind. And I want to make people understand how our environment can affect us and how conservation starts at home.”
Phurpa’s village Dugunaghadi opens to a marveling landscape and snow-capped peaks – it is also a pitstop for people trekking to Bhairav Kunda. Imaginably, for Phurpa the idea of conservation comes more intuitively. For her conservation is not a second thought or just another new subject that is increasingly getting popular because of the environmental crisis the world is facing today.
“I was fortunate to get to work for ICIMOD and WWF. The experience has shaped me a lot – the exposure was important for many reasons – one being that it has made me more determined to help people understand their biodiversity and to make efforts to protect it,” says Phurpa.
Phurpa believes her education has made her more informed, realistic and empathetic. “ It’s difficult for many people in my village to understand the kind of hardships fellow Nepalis go through in the Middle East countries to earn. But, I think I can understand the difference and therefore, I understand why we need more domestic employment opportunities.”
Phurpa’s facebook posts are more about informing people; she is vocal about issues related to environment, youth employment, education, and poverty. Today, Phurpa works for Grid Nepal and is also a Daayitwa Innovation Leader campaigning for the importance of involving youths in the policy-making process. However, even as she endeavors for the youth through the Yuwa Aaja campaign – she emphasizes more on the necessity of youth to educate themselves.
“ I have seen what illiteracy can do to you and so, when it comes to education, I am very serious. Moreover, I believe in sharing that pocketful of wisdom so that it can help others. I find it annoying when people try to keep information just for themselves – I can’t relate when people want to perfect just themselves,” says Phurpa.
Good schools are still far away for many in Phurpa’s hometown. However, by endeavoring forward with her education; she believes her knowledge makes a difference for her people. “I was more fortunate than my friends – I had an opportunity to explore and learn, and I understand that not everybody gets that opening in their life; I am grateful towards all the experience I have had. And, I wish to use my knowledge to bring some development in my hometown. Education really can change your circumstance and can support you to begin to work on a change.”
“ I think by persevering for my education, I am making my father proud, mero buwa ko thulo sapana thiyo malai padhaune ,” says Phurpa.