Lessons in Action - Smriti Subedi’s Story
Sometimes you must experience a lesson in action before you can truly appreciate what it means. There are countless lessons Smriti Subedi brought back to Grounds from her experience last year working with a nonprofit to help the Chepang people in one of the most secluded regions in her native country, Nepal. Subedi came to Virginia with her family when she was eight, but has always had Nepal and its people in her heart. In 2015, she organized a successful fundraiser for victims of the devastating earthquake that struck Nepal. She then traveled to the most affected areas with her parents to help as many people as they could by using the money raised to help build schools and provide supplies to families trying to rebuild their lives.
Last winter, Subedi with her best friend, Maria Latimer, returned to work with a nonprofit organization, Laxmi Pratisthan, this time traveling to Kanda, a village so remote that it took several-hour-long bus rides and seven-hour hike straight up a mountain to reach. She knew the trip was more than worth it the moment she entered Kanda. “These were people who may not have ever been discovered by the outsiders if not for the fact that seven of them had eaten poisonous mushrooms, and passed away at the hospital.” It was the youngest members of Kanda who really captured Subedi’s heart. “I fell in love with them right from the start,” she said. The most meaningful part to Subedi was the interactions with the young girls of Kanda. “We helped start an all-girls rugby team, and they were able to travel to Kathmandu for the first time to train and meet other teams. Practical physical education is a priority for the older kids in Kanda, as they only recently got to start school.” She frequently checks in with the students in Kanda via phone calls, despite limited cell phone service. “With a lot of nonprofits, you never know exactly where the money is going. The great thing about this organization is that they are doing absolutely everything they can to help these kids. They update us every month on how our kids are doing. I learned how valuable transparency is for a nonprofit; Laxmi Pratisthan encouraged us to present to donors in the U.S. on exactly what their donations were being used for. Maria and I sponsor two of the kids taken in by the nonprofit so we can continue to contribute to their well-being and their education.” Subedi’s interest in the arts was sparked by George Sampson, who has been helpful to her in expressing herself about her experiences there. She has taken courses in arts and nonprofit management to supplement the work she has done outside of the classroom. The courses introduced to her by Sampson are showing her the importance in sharing her story and spreading it to others who may be similarly inspired to help. “Someone suggested we write down our experiences, so I made vlogs as a way to keep track of them. I wanted to share these incredible people with others who might be interested in helping too. I really want to show them for the amazing people they truly are and motivate others to help as well.” Smriti and Maria look forward to returning in 2020 and hope that UVA students and alums will be inspired to join them in their journey.