Surrounded by pain and sorrow, we try to figure out where our happiness lies. Having all those desires, dreams and ambitions, we’ll do anything to get to the top. But all of us do not carry such fire inside us, that turns desire into strength. It takes more than a soft heart and big words to wipe someone’s tears, more than praying hands and preaching lips to change people’s lives, and it takes more than dreams and desires to be in the battlefield. Throughout history, women have made extraordinary contributions to their societies. Some are well known, some less so, but all these women have been trailblazers and some have had to write their own story. This Women’s Day, let’s delve into the lives of some who are already on their tracks, know what they are doing, and have a clear vision for the days ahead.
Roza KC, Triathlon Athlete
Eighteen-year-old Triathlon athlete, Roja Kc, began training when she was sixteen. Triathlon is not new in the world of sports, but this sport is still male dominated worldwide. And in the Nepali society, this game is hardly known and is the least favorite among youngsters. Triathlon demands physical strength, mental stability and will power in three disciplines – Swimming, Cycling and Running. Roja Kc was encouraged by her senior swimming partners to train for the Triathlon. Hungry for more details, she joined her seniors in training and was selected for the South Asian Games.
Many people of Rosa’s age are often asked by their parents to focus on their studies, but in Rosa’s case her parents were very supportive. The only difficulty she had, was convincing her parents to buy her a mountain bike so she could start training. She explains that the training for this sport is really more extreme than what people imagine it to be. She says, “At one phase of the training, I really felt like giving up because of too much mental pressure between the training and college life.” But she never gave up. She won bronze at the South Asian Games and although she was happy with the result, she wasn’t satisfied. After returning from the Games, she is more enthusiastic and is training hard every day to take the lead.
“The only participants in this game even today are from the police and army, except for me and there is a need to introduce Triathlon to civilians as well,” says Rosa. She’s thankful to the National Sports Association, who did their best to provide all the facilities and the trainer, needed for her training. The only problem she encountered during training was the unheated swimming pool in winter. During summer, swimming is no big deal to anyone, but in winter, at seven in the morning, swimming is almost impossible. They were taken sometimes to heated pools for their training, but that was not enough to prepare them for the games.
“Colleges have started introducing triathlon in their annual sports day, however I could see no female participating in this event; laments Rosa, “I would really want to see females coming further out of their comfort zones, and taking a lead in the games,” adds Rosa. Preparing to win in the next South Asian Games, she hopes and looks forward to carry the name of the country as far as she can and make her parents proud.
Pushpa Basnet, Social Worker
Pushpa Basnet is no more a person behind the curtains after being declared CNN Super Hero in 2016. Founder of Early Childhood Development Center and Butterfly Home, a non- profit organization, she started her career when she was in her early twenties. She started a program working with imprisoned mothers, whose children are being provided with an alternative home, school enrollment, nutritious meals and medical care. She works with the motto of “No Child should grow up behind prison bars”.
When people reach the tip of success, everyone is there to praise the achievements but to begin the journey is not the same story. During her visit to jails for research assignments, she could empathize with the pain and troubles of all those imprisoned mothers who had no option but to hold their infants in their arms stuck inside those iron bars. Being a mother is nature’s wonderful gift. Those imprisoned mothers were blessed with the gift of a child but were deprived of the privilege of providing the basic needs every child would need. Pushpa Basnet kept wondering how she could change the lives of all those children who were growing up behind bars through no fault of their own. At the age of 21, she was determined to do something for the betterment of those children. Thirteen years of social work have taught her a very important lesson, “Until you find the happiness inside you, you cannot make anyone else happy.”
The journey she started was not easy, and convincing her parents was even harder in the beginning. Her foundation now looks after 37 in-house children and is working on improving the nutrition values for the children inside prisons all over Nepal. “I want to see youngsters become determined and taking their life into their own hands, rather than walking on a path laid down by someone else. And, these are the same qualities I look forward to see in my children,” says Basnet. After becoming a CNN super hero, she looks forward to seeing her children graduate with good degrees, “That would be the greatest reward for all my hard work,” adds Pushpa.
Anu Shrestha, Fashion Designer
With an experience of two decades in the fashion industry, Anu Shrestha started her own venture by launching her fashion house, “Kallisto Designs”. ‘Kallisto’ is all about individuality and style. Her endeavor to create ‘Kallisto’ (most beautiful in Greek) handcrafted products, is to enhance people’s style and bring out the primal in them. At a very young age she was inspired by her mother’s immaculate dress sense and intrinsic style and her art of making dolls which had an enduring influence on Anu’s fashion sense and sensibilities. “I remember my mom used to make beautiful clothes for us,” Anu recalls and adds “I would say I got this gene from my mother.”
Born into a Newar family, in the heart of Kathmandu, she was fascinated by the delightful colors, forms and art that surrounded her. Later, as she grew up, she was interested in fashion mainly due to its diversity. Anu completed her fashion designing course from South Delhi Polytechnic for Women and took courses related to textiles, colors, weaving, knitting, crochet, and embroidery as they are the basic components of designing. She finds creative and artistic energy, illustrations, textiles, photography, make up, and a lot more in the elements she works with. That is why, at Kallisto, she passionately creates her own hand-painted fabrics.
Despite the many challenges in this field such as unforeseen business expenses, rising costs of production, absence of awareness and lack of skilled labor, Kallisto has successfully generated work for home based women. Prepared to find a way through challenges, and her ability and hard work, she promises to keep her eyes open for the opportunities and to contribute to society in different ways. Anu is living her dream at Kallisto, which is an extension of her personality, a medium of self-expression and a form of art.