It is often difficult to find the right words to express just how thankful we are to those of you who support the work at the Bo M. Karlsson Foundation. Through your generosity, our year-end campaign raised enough money to fund Saniya Giri’s law school education through her graduation in 2021. What better way to say thank you than through the words of Saniya herself:

“Namaste! From the deepest core of my heart...I express my heartfelt gratitude for your benevolence and the kindness you have bestowed on me. You all are undoubtedly gems of my life. Words will never be enough to tell you all how grateful I am. Each time you have showered me with your blessings and with your love you have motivated and encouraged me to take the next step of my journey with extra determination. THANK YOU, TONS, and LOADS and LOADS of love from me and Nepal! You all have helped me on my way to achieve this dream of mine. THANK YOU."

And thank you from all of us at the Bo M. Karlsson Foundation as well. Because of YOU, another young woman from Nepal will fulfill her dreams and become a confident, self-reliant, productive citizen in her community and country. We know Saniya will achieve great things. She’s already making a huge difference for other girls and women in Nepal, as a trainer and spokesperson for menstrual health and reproductive rights. Your gift has been wisely invested!

Love and gratitude,
Sonnia, Mari, Chris, Amanda, Shannan & Grishma
From Neema’s Desk
On January 1, 2018 the BMKF Kathmandu office ushered in the New Year with Welcome/Farewell celebration of the incoming and graduating scholars. After welcoming back the 12 students who will be continuing to receive scholarship support through 2018 and orienting them about the annual programs to be held throughout the coming year, we congratulated our five graduating scholars: Manisha Shah (BBS), Mandira Sapkota (BSc. Nursing), Saraswati Adhikari (BPH), Prabha Bohara (Bachelor in Nursing) and Rebika Bhandari (PCL Nursing). This was followed by New Year 2018 Celebration with BMKF scholars, staff, and board members.  

It was with great pleasure that I presented each continuing scholar with a Congratulations Letter confirming their scholarship for 2018. The five graduating scholars were awarded a certificate congratulating their achievement and were encouraged to remain in regular contact with our organization and engaged in various activities offered by BMKF/MSN in days to come. Current students honored the graduating scholars with Khadas (ceremonial scarves) and wished them success in future endeavors. 

Scholar Chadani Shrestha (BBS 2019), in coordination with our staff, was in charge of creating the theme for the New Year Celebration. She transformed the room with her gorgeous and colorful creations. Fellow scholars extended their helping hands for the decorating task. Chadani also designed a donation box on behalf of the office in order to encourage visitors and supporters to drop donations to fund BMKF scholarships.

A highlight of the evening was the announcement of a special gift for Pooja Yadav (PCL Nursing 2019). She received a laptop donated by Mr. Gautam Manandhar during the laptop donation drive initiated by BMKF Founder/Executive Director Sonnia Karlsson back in November. In a short video message, she thanked the organization for supporting her Nursing study and Mr. Manandhar for donating the laptop which she believes will help her excel further in her studies since she was struggling due to lack of access to a computer. 

In her final remarks, board Secretary Sumita Maharjan ‘12 commended the program and the initiatives of the Bo M. Karlsson Foundation (BMKF), and its sister organization in Nepal Mahilaa Sikshya Nidi (MSN), for keeping the scholars more engaged and active. She also congratulated graduates and urged scholars to make the most of the scholarship support that they have received. The program ended with New Year Wish exchange between scholars, alumna, office staff, and board members, followed by photo session where everyone showed their enthusiasm and admiration for the colorful decoration. Contributions dropped in the new donation box were gratefully accepted.

The one-day program was a wonderful opportunity to revisit and review all the memorable days of the past year and resolve with new ideas, initiations, and dreams for the New Year 2018. Scholars, graduates, office staff, and board members enjoyed fellowship together as they shared some light moments full of laughter, bonding and refreshment. The program helped bring all of them one step closer to each other.

Warm regards,
Neema Sherpa ’14, Program Coordinator

BMKF Alumna Joins the Board of Directors
Grishma Manandhar, Mechanical Engineer (2011)
Growing up in an energy deficient economy in Nepal, Grishma Manandhar developed a passion for working in the field of renewable energy. The possibility of being able to design standalone renewable energy systems was her motivation for pursuing an undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering and in 2008, she was awarded a Bo M. Karlsson Foundation Scholarship. She also holds a graduate degree in Energy and Environmental Management from the University of Flensburg, Germany.

Since graduating in 2011, Grishma has been working in the Energy and Environment. In previous roles, she worked as a Project Officer in Nepal, a Renewable Energy Engineer in India, a Hydro Energy Consultant in Scotland and most recently as a Research Intern in Indonesia. Currently, Grishma is looking forward to pursuing her doctorate degree in Economics, specializing in energy and environment issues in emerging and developing economies. Grishma is honored and excited to join the board and give back to the organization that enabled her to pursue her passion.

Welcome to the board, Grishma – We are very proud and happy to have you!
What would you do to ensure your child’s success? What if you lived in a place where your sons are encouraged and expected to go to school, but your daughters…they are expected to stay home and take care of the household. What if the cost of an education meant you could only send one child to school? 

In a place where girls continue to be discriminated against and patriarchal practices remain, the odds of a girl attending and completing school are not very likely. Especially when there is more than one girl in the family. However, when parents embrace the dreams of their children, it makes all the difference in the world.

The Bo M. Karlsson Foundation is proud to have played a role in the lives of not one, not two, but three sets of sisters in Nepal. Sisters whose parents embraced their dreams and sacrificed in order to give their daughters an education. These young women are very unusual in Nepal, females with Bachelor’s Degrees, daughters of parents with no formal education.
Neema and Pema Sherpa
Pema Sherpa (left) earned her degree in Social Work and Rural Development in 2015 and her sister Neema Sherpa graduated in 2014 with a degree in Rural Development.
Today, Neema is the Program Coordinator for Bo M. Karlsson Foundation in Nepal. Pema is a Field Coordinator at Hamro Palo, an NGO in Nepal. Their lives and careers, shaped by an education that did not come easy. But from the beginning, school was a priority, so important that their parents moved the family from a village in the northeastern region of Nepal to the Kathmandu Valley. Completely committed to their children’s’ education (Neema, Pema and a brother), they used what little savings they had to pay for the better private schools. This was the biggest source of inspiration for the sisters…parents who had never been to school, doing everything they could to help their children do what they were never able to do. Neema and Pema knew they needed to study hard and excel in order to make their parents proud. And they did just that. 

The biggest challenge faced by the family was the financial ability to pay for school. The family couldn’t afford the additional tutoring that many of the well-off families provided for their children and yet, Neema and Pema consistently ranked in the top three students which resulted in being awarded tuition waivers. At times, relatives would advise their parents to send the girls to the community schools which had much lower fees; but they refused to even entertain the notion, believing in the same quality education for their daughters as their son.  
Shanta and Mandira Sapkota
Mandira Sapkota (left) earned her Nursing degree in 2017, and her sister Shanta Sapkota earned her degree in Education in 2011. 
Shanta and Mandira are beautiful examples of how important inspiration can be to pursuing our dreams. The sisters, like many women in Nepal faced financial and gender-specific obstacles. Most of the girls in their village grow up to take care of the household. But Shanta and Mandira have parents who believed in them and walked alongside them through their journey. Money was short.  There was a time when Mandira began to second-guess her decision to pursue a Nursing degree due to the expense. Therefore, she studied hard and was determined to make her family proud. 

Shanta’s journey began with a keen desire to teach. She hopes to change the way students are educated in Nepal, incorporating more pragmatic and relevant teaching styles. Through her education, Shanta inspired her sister and helped her to understand the great need for women in the medical field.

Mandira knew she wanted to be a Nurse and make an impact across Nepal. She was the first in her community to study Nursing and she has inspired many others in the village. Other parents have seen what can happen when they support their daughters and encourage them to study and pursue education.   
Sarita and Babita Sharma
Sarita Sharma (left) graduated with an Electronic Engineering degree in 2014. Her sister, Babita graduated in 2016 with a degree in Civil Engineering.  
Sarita and Babita faced challenges that many would find insurmountable. Female, poor and from a remote community usually means you get married early and take care of the household, as many of their friends did. Nevertheless, their parents believed in them and ingrained in them the idea that girls should have the same opportunities as boys. Engineering is not a field typically studied by women and yet both sisters followed this path. 

As a result, Sarita and Babita are the only women in their remote community to go to college. In addition, they are among the first women in their respective fields in Engineering in Nepal, working in prestigious positions. Sarita is currently a Senior Officer in the Technical Department of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal at the Tribhuvan International Airport. She also serves on the Bo M. Karlsson Foundation Board in Nepal. Babita is an Engineer in the Public Service Commission for the Nepal Government Department of Road and Highway. This is the most recognized Civil Engineering job in all of Nepal, a dream come true for Babita. 
They credit their parents with inspiring them to study and continue their education, and today, they are an inspiration to their community.  

As we read about these women and hear their stories, we find common threads.  Three sets of sisters, all facing gender adversity, all facing financial obstacles. We applaud as they poured their hearts and souls into pursing dreams that are normally out of reach for girls in Nepal. And perhaps, most important of all, we find parents who believe in the potential of daughters. Daughters who, because of this support, are changing Nepal and changing the world.
Nepal Bound -- Shannan and Sonnia
Our founder is heading back to Nepal on March 7, so come along for the ride! You will be able to follow the stories and photos straight out of Kathmandu via Facebook and Instagram as Board member, Shannan Chapman, accompanies Sonnia for the first time.
Shannan can’t wait to explore a country with so much history, culture and beauty. "Being on the Bo M. Karlsson Foundation Board has given me the opportunity to be a part of something so important and bigger than myself. To think that in just a few weeks I will be traveling to the place where it all started and get to meet our Nepal board and scholars both excites and humbles me."
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