Empowerment through education

"Our volunteer administration ensures nearly 95% of funds raised go directly to supporting disadvantaged children in regional Nepal."

Sujan, FHC manager and school president

photo of Sujan with some hostel students
“Someone told me that she was at the Central Jail so one day I decided to go meet her. From outside the prison bars, I saw her. It didn’t feel like it was meeting my mother. The love was not there. It was just indifference”.

Sujan is a busy man. He is FHC’s director of operations on the ground in Batase, managing the every-day functions of the charity. And he is the President of the School Board, which is an extraordinary honour for someone so young. He is 30 years of age. But so typical of lives in regional Nepal, his life story is extraordinary. It was his unfortunate plight that inspired Som Tamang to help Sujan and others like him. That help evolved into the Friends of Himalayan Children charity.

Sujan was just a teenager when tragedy struck his family. His mother, suffering poor mental health, killed his father just six months after giving birth to their youngest daughter. Now orphaned, and with a mother and baby sister in jail, the remaining four siblings splintered, finding care with other families. In an instant, Sujan became the head of a broken family…at the age of 12 years. Confused and lost he initially laboured on road construction before straying into the restaurant kitchens of Kathmandu to find work. Kathmandu can be a hostile and dangerous place for young impressionable kids on their own. While in Kathmandu he visited his mother in prison. Ten years had passed.

Som Tamang, with his own difficult life story, had already established a successful life in Australia. Now financial and very familiar with the disadvantage facing children back in his community in Nepal, Som purchases a house in the near-by village of Talamarang and turns it into a hostel for kids from Batase to continue their schooling. School in Batase then offered limited classes. It would be years before Som learns of Sujan’s tragedy. Som’s brother Amber (sadly killed in the 2015 earthquake) eventually finds Sujan in Kathmandu and Som lures him home with the offer of a job managing his hostel in Talamarang. While here, Sujan, now 18 years of age, is encouraged to go back to school.

Som grew his hostel into a registered charity in 2008 and FHC was born. This registration gave Som the legal right to accept young children, especially girls, under his care. Soon after, a Hostel was established in Batase and the school expanded with FHC’s help. And with that, so did Sujan’s role. From very humble beginnings, he now manages the every-day operations of FHC in Nepal.

Sujan epitomises the resilience of the Nepalese spirit. It’s not uncommon for children to experience lives of hardship in regional Nepal but it’s rare for that hardship to define who they grow up to be. Sujan now has a family of his own and he is striving to ensure that they, and the children under his care at the charity, don’t lack for love and opportunity that he was deprived.

The FHC hostel under his care, provides food, accommodation and access to school for over 45 disadvantaged children. He also oversees the administration of nearly 40 scholarships where FHC covers school fees and materials for students while they live at home. And recently as President of the School Board, he secured a AUD$50,000 grant from the Nepalese Government to build new classrooms for the school. The school is expanding to teach Grade 11 and 12. That construction, on FHC land, is in progress.

© Friends of Himalayan Children 2021

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