‘Educate a girl and you can change the world.’ Singapore-based Vishrut Jain and Priya Rath are out to transform the lives of 17 Nepalese girls through their charity
1/30/2015 4:59:25 PM
|written By : Nithya Subramanian|
Vishrut Jain and Priya Rath would seem to be like any other couple with successful careers. But get to know them a little better and they will share with you their passion – Sikcha Aviyan – a charity based in Kathmadu, Nepal that works with a group of 17 girls from a village called Najing in Solokhumbu.
The girls are between the ages of 7-15 years and have been with the organisation for the last five-six years. It provides them with nutrition, healthcare, education and motivation to open up life opportunities that would otherwise be closed to them.
On the first working day of 2015, I decided to meet them at their tastefully done up home which houses several interesting art pieces. From Indian masters, to contemporary global artists, to antiques, their home has a fascinating collection of works. “We have been collecting for the last 20 years. In fact, I bought an antique carpet with my first salary; my pay cheque was for $2800 and I spent $1800 on the carpet,” chuckled the 40-year-old business consultant. Both his wife, Priya Rath, (who currently works with Monsanto) came to Singapore on SIA scholarships more than 20 years ago.
But if collecting art is a passion, setting up Sikcha Aviyan (fondly known as Kanya) and seeing young girls bloom into independent and successful women is both a passion and a mission. Their attachment to this project was evident when Jain’s eyes welled up talking about his first ‘awakening’ moment.
“Priya and I became aware of slavery in Nepal quite by accident. During our hikes in Nepalese mountains, we usually stayed at tourist lodges, where we often saw young girls working. We thought that they might be related to the owners (daughters) who were helping out after school. But once in Lukla airport (the gateway to Everest Base Camp) our plane was delayed and we ended up resting at a lodge. It was a cold December morning, with sub-zero temperatures and we were extremely upset to find a little 8-year -old girl washing bed sheets in cold water out in the open. Inquiries then revealed that this was no daughter of the house, but a little slave girl bought for 15,000 Napelese Rupee or $200. Both of us were deeply touched and could not help shedding tears over the situation,” recollected Jain (40).