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THE ART OF AGEING WELL – Megh Ranjani Rai, 62

Megh Ranjani Rai, 62

Technical Specialist for Disaster Risk Reduction and Response

Megh Ranjani Rai epitomises breaking stereotypes, whether as a single mother, changing her career at 40, or the fact that she is constantly on the move.

Megh Ranjani Rai moved to Nepal at the age of 34, with three children and Bugsy, her Dalmatian. She began working at the Budhanilkanta School. This move also allowed her to return to her Nepali roots after having been brought up in various parts of India. Additionally to working at the school, she was also appointed as the private tutor to the Royal family.

It was during this time that her fascination for the Rai community manifested. She was intrigued to know more about the culture, the roots and history of her people. After her children had finished their schooling, she was able to partake in a research and become a member of the Asian Indigenous Women’s Network which was based in Manila, Philippines. Here, she was able to meet other indigenous people and learn about the preservation of their language and culture at an international platform. They were there to begin the first draft of the UN Declaration for Indigenous Peoples in 2000. In 2005, Rai was asked to join an emergency relief task force after the devastating Tsunami that took the lives of many in South East Asia. Through her humanitarian work, specifically as an emergency responder in post disaster and post conflict situations, Rai worked her way up to become South East Asia’s first female emergency manager at the age of 40.
When reflecting back on her life, she emphasizes, “A woman is always strong if she has her own money”. She encourages women of all ages to take ownership of their destiny through practical means such as being financially independent. “One must learn to think of one self, capitalise on your youth and compartmentalise to move forward in life whether its to further a relationship, job or position. Otherwise one will be stuck in the same place their whole life.”

Today, Rai works as an independent disaster and emergency responder and often finds herself travelling to where her work takes her. She says her impatient nature makes it hard for her to stay in one place for too long!