June 01, 2019
In March of 2019, Mereena traveled from Kathmandu, Nepal to Sydney, Australia to share her story with Room to Read supporters for our annual regional gala. Here's the inspiring speech she shared:
Namaste! I am Mereena Sainju from the beautiful country of Nepal. I live in the capital city Kathmandu with my parents and my grandmother. I have recently completed my bachelor’s degree in social work and I work as a Scout Instructor in Manaslu Public Secondary School. But as you just saw in my video, it was a long journey to get where I am today.
There was a time in my life where finishing secondary school felt impossible. When I was in grade 9, my mother had to undergo heart surgery. I still get goosebumps when I remember it. My father used to work all day and night to manage the money and I started to work too. I worked part-time at a shop and my studies struggled because of it. My grades dropped. I could hardly pass my exams. Then, in grade 12 when I failed my board exam. I cried a lot then. It felt like my years of hardwork went in vain. My friends continued their studies, but I was at home feeling so low, depressed and angry about everything. I didn’t feel like talking to my family or my friends. Instead, I thought of giving up on my education. I think I would have dropped out if Room to Read hadn’t been there to support me during that phase.
Room to Read’s Girls’ Education Program helped me change my mind. They helped me see beyond the moments of sadness and anger. My mentor, who was like my second guardian helped me understand the importance of education and to not give up on my life goals. When she came to my home she told me examples of how education helped her come a long way. She motivated me to explore my interests and fearlessly pursue my dreams. I started to feel hope again. I remembered my life skills sessions, where I learned how to analyze and find solutions to my problems instead of pushing them off. So, I decided to take a gap year, get refocused and take the exam again. When I passed, I felt my first taste of success.
I’m so glad I didn’t give up back then. If I had I would probably be working as a domestic helper like my parents. But I kept pushing and even took my mentor’s advice to go to university to my further my studies in social work. Everything was different then. I studied hard and scored the highest marks in my class. Graduating was the happiest moment for me and my family.
I have not looked back since.
Today, I am educated. I am confident. I’m not afraid to face any challenge that comes in life. But I’m not done yet. I dream of earning my doctoral degree in Gender Studies. But I want to do more than just educate myself. I want to help other girls do the same. That’s why I pay it forward by funding the tuition of primary students in my hometown. I see how much they want to learn and I hope my story and my support will inspire many girls out there to not give up on their dreams – because we all have the power to make the world a better place.
I am very proud to be a Room to Read alumnae. Education taught me to take the lead of my life. I’m ready for anything now and hope to help eliminate social prejudices in my community along the way.
Thank you for all the support in past years and today. You helped me changed my life and grow into a powerful girl. Your support gives thousands of girls like me the opportunity to grow into the women we’re meant to be.
Thank you to all the wonderful people here today for listening to my story.
Have a good evening!