If you’re lucky you’ll have neighbors you like. If you’re even more fortunate, you'll have
neighbors as friends. But I must be one of the most blessed people around, because I have neighbours who inspire me.
Liesel and Rosemarie Briggs are a mother/daughter team. They do more than act locally and think globally; they act globally with the help of locals. They are the founders of Hands of Hope, a non-profit organization that assists underprivileged children and adults in India and Nepal.
Hands of Hope recognizes education as central in helping individuals and communities rise above poverty. Therefore, they create libraries, build classrooms, fund post-secondary education for orphans, and sponsor refugee families.
While travelling between Delhi, India and Kathmandu, Nepal less than a decade ago, Liesel and Rosemarie saw children unable to get an education, and too poor to for enough food. They were told of countless school children crammed together trying to diligently learn, but without the resources we take for granted.
Liesel and Rosemarie, both educators themselves, wondered what they could do to help the children and teachers in Nepal and India. What they’ve done is diligently fundraise money in their own community.
Rosemarie and Liesel go on the radio, write articles, and have articles written about their organization in the local press, and they host fundraising events to buy books, build libraries, and financially support orphans. They take none themselves, even paying their own airfare and accommodations on their yearly trips to Nepal and India. And they have been very successful — building four classrooms and ten libraries.
Much of their dedication comes from their ability to form relationships that support and encourage the children they connect with. I went over to the Briggs house recently to see photos of their recent trip to Nepal and India. Liesel was home, but Rosemarie stayed behind in Nepal, as she does every year, to meditate at an Ashram for four months.
Liesel told me about Rohit Malla, a 20-year-old young man from the village of Rudrapur, in the south of Nepal. “At the age of seven or eight years old Rohit's father died,” Liesel told me. “Rohit described it as his father just never woke up." The family was already poor and was now without a father. “No longer could the mother feed her sons and Rohit and his two brothers became orphans,” she says. “And it was a dangerous time to be in the villages, Rohit told me how the Maoists would slit people’s throats and throw the dead bodies on the side of the road.”
Luckily, Rohit and his brothers were taken to an orphanage that Hands of Hope supports, assisting all the orphans with living expenses and helping some with post-secondary education costs. “Rohit ended up being a shining student,” Liesel told me, her eyes glowing like a proud Grandma (which is what the orphans call her). “In high school he studied hard, made good marks and earned a little extra money tutoring other students in math. People also told us about his sketches. He is also an exceptional artist — self taught.”
Liesel and Rosemarie have been supporting Rohit for the last two years as he attends a special preparation academy in Kathmandhu. But unfortunately, due to a bureaucratic error, Rohit is at a disadvantage. “Rohit is from a very poor background and lowest caste,” Liesel explains. “But a mistake in paperwork registered him as a higher caste. It was good fortune to go to an orphanage and be sent to a private school, but bad fortune because now he is ineligible for receiving government preference. “He can’t receive government assistance for exceptional low caste students. And Rohit so badly wants to be a doctor.”
To become a doctor Rohit needs about $50,000, Liesel told me, but she is worried that Hands of Hope won’t be able to pull together that kind of money. “But we have to find a way,” she says. “We can't let the dreams of such a motivated and bright boy crumble and come to nothing.
Somehow, some way this money has to come together because we know he will become a doctor and help so many people, because that's his aspiration. He's seen suffering and wants to alleviate pain.” Somehow I just know that this mother-daughter team will meet this challenge. Visit their website www.hands-of-hope.ca , facebook page www.facebook.com/booksandbasics, and gofundme campaign www.gofundme.com/rohit for Rohit Malla to learn more.