The Blue Butterfly Foundation runs a specialized leadership program that helps to empower young adults to engage directly with their own communities as well as communities throughout the globe. We emphasize education, analysis, critical thinking skills, cultural exchange, innovation, grassroots projects, and global action. These young citizens of the world are committed to a future that upholds the values of justice, peace, and tolerance in all areas of life. They study pressing global issues, especially those outlined by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. We are extremely proud of our Youth Leadership Program and our Youth Leaders!
Sangeeta says, "For so long, I was afraid to speak out about my experiences, but I am no longer afraid. My truth is too important, and if I can help just one young girl to live a better life, I will be happy." Sangeeta is very grateful to be part of the Youth Leadership Team at the Blue Butterfly Foundation because she is gaining leadership skills and hopes to one day become a political leader, where she can continue speaking for those without a voice. She says, "Now that I have started to speak my truth, I will never be silenced again. I am here to make a difference."
Kabita has always been a leader but unfortunately, like so many impoverished girls in South Asia, has faced life-threatening abuse. However, she's always risen stronger. She studied hard in school and college, where she studied global marketing. Although struggling with numerous challenges, she still managed to get a job at a renowned bank where she shines and has received a number of promotions. While working at the bank, she put herself through school to receive her MBA. Kabita wants to be a businesswoman and employ vulnerable women. She seeks to empower and educate them about their human rights and to become financially independent. She also wants to speak out and help educate the world about the realities of impoverished girls. She says, "Nowadays, in Nepal, all I see are teenage girls going into 'entertainment industries' and not focusing on areas where they can really grow and thrive in their lives. I want to teach our girls how important it is to study in school and focus on becoming financially and intellectually independent.
When she was a baby, Kabita's father fell off a roof while working in slave-like conditions in construction. He became paralyzed, and the family became homeless and lived on the streets of Kathmandu, Nepal. One night, rats ate her father’s toes, but he could not feel them due to his paralysis. The family woke up with his blood everywhere, and the hospital had to cut off both of his legs. Kabita then decided it was time to take the initiative to make money for her family, so she went to holy sites in Kathmandu and gave tours to Westerners. Her family lived off the tips she received.
Santoshi Rana was born into a poor family in a village in the Himalayas. The middle child of three sisters, most fathers would be deeply saddened not to have a son. But Santoshi's father was proud to have all daughters, and he did everything he could to provide for them. Due to a lack of resources in Nepal, he went to work in Bahrain doing construction. Unfortunately, his employers worked him day and night without proper nutrition or hydration. Due to these conditions, he died at just 40 years old from a heart attack and his body had to be shipped back to Nepal.
In many parts of Nepal, females are not allowed to touch or get near the dead body of a family member or to take part in any of the funeral rituals. Although they were just teenagers, Santoshi and her sisters would have none of that. They insisted on caring for their father's body and preparing the body for cremation, even though many of the males in the family would not speak to them. Santoshi says, "No one can tell me who or what I can touch, especially my beloved father. I refuse to accept the idea that girls and women are impure. To touch is to love."
In partnership with the Blue Butterfly Foundation, Santoshi is building a home in Lalitpur, Nepal, to house girls rescued from sex trafficking. She says, "We want to provide a safe space where girls can come to heal, gain an education, and learn skills to live an independent life and thrive in the community. The Youth Leadership Program at the Blue Butterfly Foundation will help us to take in many vulnerable children. Together, we are creating our own families."
Sanjay Basnet is from a very poor family in the country of Nepal. His parents were both slaves in India from the time they were very young. They lived in very harsh conditions and were abused in many ways. After his parents married, they moved to Nepal for better opportunities. For many years, the four of them lived in one small room without running water or heat. Sanjay went to a public school where the teachers often did not show up, and when they did, would often hit him and the other students.
When Sanjay was 10 years old, the Executive Director of The Blue Butterfly Foundation enrolled Sanjay into a good school and helped to ensure that he thrived. Sanjay became more confident and started getting good grades. He participated in school competitions, extracurricular activities, and different types of social work programs like collecting and bringing food and hygiene products to refugees and migrant workers. He says, "My skills and leadership qualities, which I got from my schooling and the Youth Leadership Program at the Blue Butterfly Foundation, helped to mold me. My education and my difficult background helped me to become a kind and caring person."
At his high school graduation, Sanjay was given the school's "Best Leadership" award for his social work with underprivileged children and women’s empowerment. He was also given the school's "Best Entrepreneur" award. He says, "I wish to work on the world's important concerns. My ambition is to become a human rights lawyer and to work against human rights violations. I wish to help underprivileged children and women by providing them with education and skills. I desire to bring change in the world, not through technology, but by feeding and educating humanity. With absolute faith in my dream, I hope to serve my country and the world in many ways."
Born into the "untouchable" caste, Kamlesh Baral endured many hardships as a youth. He grew up in a poor village in Nepal. When he was a baby, his father went to Malaysia to work in a construction factory and his mother mysteriously disappeared. Kamlesh lived with his grandparents who worked in the field all day. With no one to look after him, he used to eat mud, dirt, or whatever was found on the floor. His stomach started swelling, and he became very ill. His uncle found him and rushed him to the hospital. They found he had roundworms. They made it just in time--the worms had gotten very close to Kamlesh's brain, and he would have passed away. After recovering, Kamlesh started going to a school in Kathmandu and lived with 6 family members in a room. There he met the Executive Director of the Blue Butterfly Foundation who began sponsoring his education and making sure he lived a secure life.
Kamlesh wants to become a great human rights lawyer and help other children who desperately need help and support. He says, "I WANT TO CHANGE THE LIVES OF PEOPLE LIKE THE BLUE BUTTERFLY FOUNDATION CHANGED MINE."
Ram says, "Having grown up in such poverty, I know what it is to be hungry. Because of this, I have studied a lot about food and organic, sustainable farming. I want to teach poor people to create organic and sustainable farms so they can grow their own food. I teach them how important a healthy, well-balanced diet is to everyone's life, especially developing children." Ram has started to travel to different villages to teach these organic cooking and farming methods to prevent more damage due to climate changes, chemicals, and poor sanitation. He hopes to open schools one day that continue to teach new and progressive methods of farming. He believes the Youth Leadership program at the Blue Butterfly Foundation is helping him to become more confident and more organized. He says, "The Youth Program is providing me with the education I need to become a strong leader and to help all of the impoverished and hungry people in the world."
Ramsharan Khanal comes from an impoverished farming family in a small village in the eastern part of Nepal. With 5 brothers and sisters, his parents could not afford to feed them or provide education. Eventually, Ram was able to receive a good education, and with sponsorship from the Blue Butterfly Foundation, he went to college to learn about organic food and sustainable farming. He is learning to meet the challenges of climate change, especially in Nepal, where flooding grows worse each year and potable water is scarce.