WOW | People

6 INSPIRING PEOPLE OF 2019

As the year concludes, we bring to you six most inspiring names of 2019.

Sonika Manandhar
Computer Engineer & Co-founder
and Chief Technology Officer (CTO),
Aeloi Technologies

“As a child, I dreamt of becoming an astronaut and wanted to see the earth from space. I believe we must take care of our planet, the earth,” says Sonika Manandhar, the first Nepali citizen to be a part of NASA’s Global Solutions Program at Silicon Valley.

The ambitious young woman was recently featured in the news for receiving the prestigious ‘Young Champions of the Earth Prize for Asia and South Pacific’ award. She tells WOW, “We gained UN recognition within just seven months of our work and it was a joyous victory for achieving the Young Champions of the Earth 2019. This achievement was possible because of the drive and self-passion conquered by the team.

Sonika has embarked on a journey to provide training to more than 500 young women in technology. She is training them to build different apps and organise an all-girls hackathon. “Global Solutions Program allowed me to participate in a climate change solution engaging in exponential technologies. My co-founder and I both are passionate about improving livelihoods in emerging markets. Thus, we started Aeloi Technologies, powering a green economy led by women.

She elaborates about her initiative of Green Energy Mobility, “To reduce my carbon footprint, I personally use public transport and my family runs public buses in Nepal. In a small research, we found out that Kathmandu is a green city pioneer; it runs over 700 electric Safa tempos that have been steadily servicing the city for more than 20 years. This industry is easily adapted into Nepal because of the country’s immense hydropower potential.

Moreover, we found out that Safa tempos are majorly owned and operated by women. Whereas, the rest of the public transportation sector is dominated by men. An online research showed us that the number of Safa tempos had not increased since mid-2000. When we interviewed Safa tempo drivers and owners, we found out that there are an estimated 100 Safa tempos just sitting and slowly rusting in garages because upgrading their battery and engine is expensive. The owners often bought a pair of lead-acid batteries that lasted only 6-18 months which cost about US$ 4500. The lithium-ion batteries that last five to eight years would cost $10,000. It was difficult for women to afford and invest such a large sum of money. This led the Safa tempos to remain in garage. Taking loans was difficult for most owners due to the high-interest rates. Hence, we started GEM believing our technology platform could help Safa tempo owners and drivers. We envision directly connecting and impacting investors and customers to Safa tempo owners and drivers through digital tokens. With this process, we will be able to help them access more affordable loans and provide them with the savings and repayment processes.

Sonika aims to empower and employ over 24,000 micro-entrepreneurs in the near future.

What makes you who you are?

My parents! They brought me into this world and have allowed me to see the world through my eyes. Its always motivating when your parents support and trust you.

What inspires you?

For me, my set of inspirations comes from challenges. I prefer to look at a challenge as a guideline to build something that I can overcome.

Your favourite places to hangout…

I am an introverted person. I usually prefer going to a restaurant with live music where I don’t have to engage in long conversations with people.

Your favourite thing to do when you are alone…

Sing, smile or just take a nap.

Plans for 2020…

I will be busy running for Green Energy Mobility (GEM) while working with amazing-women Safa tempo drivers and owners.


Manose Newa
Flautist

Speaking about his musical journey flautist Manose Newa tells WOW, “My quest for music was not a choice or ambition driven goal. It is a gift. My journey began as an eight year old boy, looking into Buddha’s eyes, motivated by hypnotic monk chants, temple bells and rituals of burning smoke at Ghats led my inner journey through a piece of bamboo. With the gift of music, I hope to spread kindness and love to all beings. Music is a rare medium that helps humanity both mentally and physically. I aspire to be an inspiration to the modern world through my music to create peace and harmony on Mother Earth.”

Manose is a well renowned artist known for his soulful tunes. He is the first Nepali to be nominated for a Grammy Award. This recognition comes from his part in Deva Premal’s album, Deva. It is for the Best New Age Album category this year. “It is an honour for all of us. I am especially grateful to Deva Premal and Miten who made this happen. On behalf of all Nepalese, I want to thank them for changing this world to be more peaceful and harmonious. I am excited and look forward to the award ceremony,” he shares.

The talented artist is looking forward to his next solo CD. He is also coming up with a new project in which he has worked with Zoran, a pianist form Slovenia.

The flute…

A magical wand that brings oneness in our hearts.

Your first solo performance

Full moon concert at Kirateshwar temple in Pashupatinath at the age of 17.

Your first performance in overseas

Music festival in Switzerland and Germany in 1999. I was there with our musical pioneer Homnath Uapadhaya and his son Pramod representing Nepal.

Best place to perform

Kirateshwar temple

A quote you live by…

Life is beautiful, celebrate every moment.


Bonita Sharma
CEO/Co-founder, Social Changemakers and Innovators (SOCHAI)

Bonita Sharma has been raising awareness about the importance of nutritious food in the remote communities of the country through her non-profit organisation Social Changemakers and Innovators (SOCHAI). “While travelling across Nepal, I witnessed the challenges people faced just to get access to basic health and nutrition. The reality of the situation compelled me to think about public health. Furthermore, while visiting Lubu, a place that lies in the Lalitpur district I learned about a mother who lost her two month old infant. She fed her infant cashew paste and was unaware about the harm solid foods caused to infants younger than six months. She was labeled a murderer and forced to leave her own home. This incident motivated me to take action to help prevent such incidents from repeating in the future,” she shares.

Despite being a new organisation, the team has already accomplished and initiated many notable projects including the Nutribeads Bracelet. “Every year, 50% children under the age of five die due to poor nutrition health in Nepal. Women along with young girls are facing devastating and irreversible consequences of malnutrition throughout their life. I realised that the issue of malnutrition in our country needs immediate attention. It inspired my team to come up with a simple solution, the Nutribeads Bracelet. It is a low tech, wearable educational device that helps educate mothers on how to feed their children. The multi-coloured bracelet informs mothers about appropriate breastfeeding, complementary feeding and it includes the food groups of the daily diet to help make it balanced and nutritious,” she elaborates.

On Menstrual Hygiene Day 2018, Bonita’s team launched the Red Cycle Bracelet that targets adolescent girls. “Our mission was to educate young girls on menstruation as a natural biological process of the body. It is mostly seen as ‘sinful’ or ‘impure’ in the country,” Bonita informs.

Bonita’s organisation has won international awards like UNICEF Asia Pacific Youth Innovation Challenge 2016 and One Young World Lead 2030 Challenge in 2019. Recently the 28-year-old was listed in the BBC’s 100 Most Influential Women under the Knowledge Category.

“SOCHAI is primarily focused on women, children and girls in Nepal. With the help of youth-led innovation, education and entrepreneurship, we conduct multiple community-based learning programs using various innovative tools for pregnant-lactating mothers, school children, adolescent girls and community health workers. We have successfully reached out to 1500 mothers, 300 community health workers and 3000 adolescents’ in the communities of eight districts. This was achieved by engaging 25 youth volunteers. We are creating income-generating opportunities for local artisans by engaging them with bracelet making. In the near future, we aim to reach the most under privileged communities with our programs. Anyone can be a part of our mission against malnutrition through SOCHAI’s Buy One Give One Initiative,” she concludes.

Your definition of success

I consider the small positive changes in the community as my biggest achievement. For example, if a mother timely breastfeeds her baby following the Nutribeads bracelet or a young girl breaks the menstrual taboos.

Your WOW factor

Empathetic and innovative.

Three habits that can change your life…

Avoid dieting, consume balanced and nutritious diet every day, and exercise regularly.

Your favourite food…

Samay baji – our own traditional yet nutritious and wholesome food.

Favourite place to hangout…

Boudhanath Stupa.


Surya Karki
Country Director/Co-founder of United World Schools (UWS) Nepal

Surya Karki has contributed hugely to education in Nepal. Supported by the United World Schools (UWS) Nepal, he is providing education to 5000 children of Gulmi and Sankhuwasabha districts. He is conducting 30 community schools with the aim to improve its quality each year with a focus on innovative technology-based education. Surya has been recognised as a member of the 30 under 30 International Literacy Association leaders. He has also gained recognition in Forbes 30 under 30, and has been appointed on the Board of Directors under the Educational Improvement Committee of the Ministry of Social Development of State 1.

He has recently co-founded Nepal’s premium yoghurt brand called Delish, Nepal’s only Greek yoghurt company which will launch in April, 2020.

Surya grew up in a remote village of Sankhuwasabha district. After witnessing the difficult situation of the education sector, he made it his prime focus to serve in the education sector. “Education is the foundation for transformation and advancement. In Nepal, 69.4% of every 100 children fail to acquire education after the eighth grade. Additionally, 70% of children start adulthood without attending school. Education is the foundation of everything and we should strive to achieve it,” he shares with WOW.

“With modernisation, Nepal needs to diverge from labour supplied remittance dependency to a knowledge-based economy. By investing in the education sector, I plan to make education fun, equitable and accessible to every individual. And help this country move in the path of economic and social transformation”, he elaborates.

As a member of the committee of the Ministry of Social Development of State 1, Surya is tasked with the responsibility of helping the Ministry and the State 1 Government to formulate plans and policies that will help advance the quality of education. “Within four months of being appointed, we have announced a program to ensure “Digital Literacy in State 1”. The campaign focuses on, collaborating with different NGOs to build computer labs while training teachers, students and mothers about the Digital Space, and to help them learn about Digital Security and Digital Utility. In the near future, we are looking forward to establishing a library and start a reading campaign too,” he says.

Envisioning the future, he says, “In 2020, United World Schools Nepal is looking to build another 15 schools, rounding up our total to 45. This will serve 7000 children in the community school run by UWS Nepal and another 30,000 indirect beneficiaries through our work. We target to integrate technology and education to accelerate quality education enhancement in these districts. We plan to build 50 computer labs until the end of 2020.”

Education is…

Life-changing

The most enjoyable thing about working in a community…

An opportunity to listen to their stories.

Life lesson

Learn to look at things from someone else’s perspective.

Three habits that can change your life…

Work hard, follow your passion and be yourself.


Hari Buddha Magar
Mountaineer

“I completely lost my confidence when I lost my legs. I thought I had to live the rest of my life on a wheelchair and needed a caretaker at all the times. Sometimes I wanted to hang myself or jump off the bridge, but I realised that too is impossible when you are immobile,” shares Hari Buddha Magar, who is now a global name inspiration.

Elaborating, he says, “I was in suicidal mode so I wanted to go skydiving for two reasons: 1. If I died, it would end my pain. 2. I had never done it before. When I got up 15,000 ft above the sky and saw the clouds below, I was scared to give up my life so I started to rethink on my decision. However, I thought it was better to die than be a coward, so I closed my eyes and jumped down. For the very first time after my injury, I felt freedom. We came down at a speed of 290 kmph until we opened our parachute. That moment I realised I could still acheive things even if I didn’t have legs. I made it my aim to do everything I could possibly do. I tried my hands literally at every paralympic sports and adventure activities.”

Hari is now an inspiration to many by becoming the first bilateral above-the-knee amputee to summit a peak upward of 19,000 feet. The ex-soldier turned mountaineer has scaled Mera Peak 6476m for which he holds the World Recold, Chulu Far East 6058m and Mont Blanc 4810m in the Alps. Recently, he was in the news for challenging the supreme court to move the bar for double amputees from climbing Everest. He explains, “My part was campaigning, lobbying and funding. Initially, I started to change the rule through diplomatic channel and went to meet the tourism minister, house speaker, some past and present ministers, vice-president, politicians, Nepalese ambassadors in America and UK, ambassadors of other countries to Nepal. I realised that I was going nowhere. Everybody talked very nicely and promised me that they would support me but when it came to action, they did not help at all. The files were not getting passed on to the higher departments to go to the parliament. Probably, it would take years and my Mt Everest expedition would never happen because I would be too old then. National Federation of Disabled Associations (NFDA) and other organisation for handicapped massively helped my campaign to take this case to the United Nation in Geneva. We fought this case because all rules must be fair. I believe that we can’t discriminate people because of their gender, ethnicity, age, faith or ability. This is not just my right to climb, this is also the right of over one billion people with disabilities around the world, so we had to fight with whatever it takes. My climb is for the awareness of disability.”

What is your message to the world?

NEVER GIVE UP! NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE! It’s our mindset that stop us doing the things. We may be physically different, but we should not let that disable our mind. We can run a country in a wheelchair. Just imagine about world leaders, what percentage do you think they use their physical body to run their countries? It is about reaching our destination, fulfilling our dreams and ambitions, not about how fast to reach. If we can’t do things one way, we can adapt and find alternative ways. In the past, we couldn’t explore the world just on foot, so we built roads, designed motor vehicles, boats, aeroplanes and even a rocket. After my Everest expedition, I would like to promote universal accessibility so we can make the world accessible and inclusive for all.

Skills that every mountaineer must have…

The skill of tying rope, setting up the ladder properly and to rescue oneself and fellow climbers

Sports…

Confidence


Pratibha Mali
National Volleyball Player

Pratibha Mali is a key member of the national volleyball player who made her debut in the national team at the age of 13. In the last six years of her journey, she has bagged many awards and titles in national and international games. She has been praised for bagging the Best Foreign Player Award in Maldives. Recently, she came into limelight when Nepal won the historic gold medal in the women’s volleyball in AVC Asian Central Zone Senior Women’s Volleyball Championship. Pratibha was declared the best spiker of the championship. She also bagged the player-of-the-match award in the league round match against Afghanistan in the same game.

“I am immensely thankful to my family that they recognised my talent and advised me to enter the right field and supported me at every step which has made my journey enjoyable and easy. Also, their choice turned to be the best gift for me as I am getting huge appreciation and love from audiences,” she shares.

Pratibha is a student of management and aspires to be a banker in the future.

Volleyball players who have inspired you…

Sipora Gurung, Manju Gurung, Aruna Shahi, Ramila Tandukar

A quote you live by…

Never give up

The best thing about being a volleyball player…

I am a part of a national game

Advice to young athletes…

Stay fit!