Oda Foundation Scholars - Khalasha Singh
We've always had the long-term goal that the English tutoring at our tuition classes helps students pass the SLC (Nepal's high school exam, necessary to attend higher education), and that through these classes, we are able to provide scholarships to our most ambitious students, students who may dream of going to college but don't have the means.
One of our most recent scholarship recipients is Khalasha - now interning in our pharmacy and assisting with Women's Health Support Groups, Khalasha is preparing to go to medical school in Spring 2018! After school, Khalasha will return to Oda to work for six months, repaying the scholarship "in-kind" by giving back to the community.
Health/Operations Fellow Sarah interviewed Khalasha - read on for her amazing story.
S: How many years have you been involved with the Oda Foundation?
K: I have been with the Oda Foundation 4 years.
S: Can you tell me about your family?
K: My family is my brother, me and my mother. Before we worked at our house, and there was so much work - I cooked, I cut grass, I looked after the cow. Sometimes I went to school, sometimes I didn't. Only my brother was going to school. After John came, and Oda Foundation told my mother she could cook, and she cooks for all the people there. Now my brother and I live in a different house, and we are going to school. My mother lives at Oda Foundation and cooks
(Kalasha's mom is Tulki Singh, who has now worked for Oda Foundation as our Head Cook for over four years).
S: And how old are you now? And how old were you, before the Oda Foundation?
K: Now? I am 17 years old. Before, I was working at my house until... 12 or 13 years old.
S: When you worked so much, were you thinking about college?
K: No, not thinking about college at all.
S: When did you start to think about college? Or why?
K: When I started coming to Oda Foundation school, and government school every day, I was learning so much. So much reading. But I was thinking, 'I am learning, wow I am so happy.' I was thinking, 'maybe I can go to college if I learn.'
S: In Nepal, what does it take to go to college?
K: You have to pass the SLC, after tenth grade. It is so much studying. Many people, after the SLC, they just work in the field or they get married. And money, my mother does not have much money, for college.
S: But you passed the SLC, right? And you took the Oda Foundation SLC class?
K: Yes, I passed! I was taking the SLC tuition class with Purna Singh (Oda Foundation teacher).
S: And you have a scholarship from the Oda Foundation? Can you tell me about it?
K: I will go to nursing school in Nepalganj, and after school is finished I will come
here and work here at the Oda Foundation medical.
S: Why do you want to be a nurse?
K: There are so many sick patients. When I am a nurse, I can help them, and help poor people. I like helping sick people and poor people, and there are so many in Nepal.
S: Right, you are interning in the Oda Foundation clinic. Can you tell me about what
you do there? How long are you there?
K: Yes I go to the clinic six days a week. I help in the pharmacy, I write patient names, diagnoses, and medicine in our logbook. I organize medicine and find the right medicines to give to the patients, or I make patient appointments.
S: What do you learn during your internship?
K: Narendra, Mim, Tanka, Sarita (Oda Foundation clinicians), they all teach me. Tanka shows me this medicine is used for this, this medicine for that. They teach me how to do check-ups - how to look, and for what to look.
S: Outside the Oda Foundation clinic, do people learn about health?
K: No. I don't know. No hand-washing, not eating different kinds of food, there is so much work. Before, when I worked at my house, I was very dirty always, I did not wash my hands, if we are sick we keep working.
S: What did people do before there was the medical facility here?
K: So many people die. So many people sick.
S: What did they die from?
K: Fever, diarrhea, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), common cold, so many. It is very hard here, and there was not medicine.
S: Yeah, it is really hard, a hard way to live. Can you tell me about other things you help with at the Oda Foundation? You've been helping me with the Health Classes in Tuition, and you are helping with the Women's Health Groups.
K: Yes, I help. Because people here, they do not always know health. Dudhkala and Karma [two young women who help with the Community Health Groups] teach very good things - what is the reusable maxi-pad, how to use it, how to wash it and let it dry in the sun, no sleeping in the cow house (most women in Oda practice chauppadi, a practice where women are considered impure the first days of their period and sleep in separate places, often a cow shed. Learn more here. Women here do not understand, and they only wear pants, no underwear, like my mother, so learning this is very important.
S: So for medical school, are you excited?
K: Yes, I am so excited. I will learn more. I will help sick people. Thank you John, thank you Oda Foundation.
S: Well you do a lot of work too, and you have worked hard. It is so good. Anything else you want to share, about your life, or the Oda Foundation? Maybe, is there anything you want people in America to know?
K: I am not sure... now... now my life is so much better. I am happy, and my family is happy. Life is much better, I think.