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Stronger Together

Who all here loves to daydream?

This is my favourite question I love to ask the children. And as you can imagine, they will almost always answer Yes with much rigour and passion.

The story I am here to share with you is based on the daydreams I had as a child.

For most of my life in Nepal, I have spent this at BNKS. I am grateful to have had this chance not only in terms of education, extracurricular activities and gaining independence from such a young age. But more for creating bonds with people I hold near and dear to me.

As both my parents worked in Nepal's development sector, I always wanted to create value by enhancing capabilities and providing opportunities to people.

In grade 8, while studying economics, I decided that I wanted to work in human capital development. I set my path in this direction, eventually graduating years later with a Master's in Human Resource Management, and now, for the past 15 years, I have been working in various industries in this field.

But let's be clear this was not what I ever daydreamed about. Can you imagine as a teenager dreaming about capability building with a bunch of executives? Well, not really. I love this part of my life, but as a child, I daydreamed about stories. Stories I made up or that were an extension of my reality. I would write them down and then daydream some more or fantasise about being a writer. But honestly, never in my dreams did I think I would be turning my daydream into a reality.

This was only something that manifested in the past years.

To many of us, 2020 has been quite an impactful year. The year started with a whirlwind, as I found out I was pregnant with my second child. We were overjoyed only to be found in lockdown with the onset of Covid. This year was like a telenovela full of drama, joy and tragedies. I lost both my grandparents - not due to covid, just old age and heartbreak. I almost lost my father, who had to undergo bypass surgery. The upside to the year was my son's birth and his elder brother finally finding his partner in crime.

When 2021 knocked on our door, I thought this was a new start. But in January, my father had a stroke, and a week later, I also lost my job. At this point, I really thought I would lose myself. It was all too much, and I could no longer stay strong as a mother, wife, daughter, sibling or friend. I had had enough. And in this dark period in my life, with some gentle nudge from my husband, my daydream gave me its flicker of hope, and here I am talking to you about my story about how I have set up my company to create meaningful children's stories.

For a child, "fitting in" and feeling like "you belong" plays a significant role in how they grow up. I think at one point in our lives, we have all felt different or like we don't belong. And I wish sometimes someone told me this was fine. So with our stories, I want to create a space where differences can be shared and celebrated.

Also, as I raise my children, I feel that as a parent, I need to have this space to explore my own emotions and understand how I can learn from them.

The children's book industry is quite saturated. There are tons and tons of books produced with the onset of print-to-demand, self-publishing and of recent AI tools, which is not necessarily bad. However, I felt we needed to do more and to do it differently, so I asked myself - How can we ensure that the quality & purpose behind stories are meaningful?

So combining my background in creating learning journeys for adults and my passion for storytelling - I aspire to bring children closer to experiencing their own learning journey. To understand how they can navigate through diverse environments that will help shape them into a curious, self – aware and confident person.

Now having talked so much about this all, let me tell you shortly about our two books.

Namaste is a picture book that introduces Nepal to the little ones and their caretakers with the help of some very Nepali illustrations highlighting plants, animals, and patterns from Nepal.

Targeted for 0 – 3 years old's, this book is illustrated by Karuna Giri.

Are you a Snow Leopard? is a picture book that captures the search o a lonely snow leopard for a friend who looks just like her. This book introduces children to rare and en angered animals in the Himalayan region. Targeted for 2 – 5-year old's, this book is illustrated by Kanchan Burathoki and written by myself.

With both Karuna and Kanchan, we are also journeying through parenthood together, making it even more special to create children's books. Next year I am launching 3 more books together with Kanchan, Manisha and Niranjan dai.

I mentioned earlier that through BNKS, I had made bonds that I hold near and dear to me. So I take this chance to also say that Kanchan, Karuna, Manisha & Niranjan dai, all from BNKS - please know you all have played an immense role in turning my daydream into reality. And I am grateful to have friends who give our stories voices by sharing and inviting us to such forums.

Life is full of daydreams. Some may just be daydreams, while others may be our inner voice telling us to be curious, self-aware and confident to go out and take a chance on ourselves.

I wish I could have been there with you all today to feel your energy and engagement. I am thankful to have gotten this chance to share my story, and I hope one day soon, I will get to hear all of yours.

The above text is based on the transcript of the video prepared for a SEBS Event celebrating Womanhood. Big shout out to Bigya Ghimire for facilitating this session and giving me the forum to share my story!

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