A guest post from Emersonian Miriam Freiter
This week, Ed and I will be leaving on the longest, most ambitious trip of our lives, but in some ways it is the most exciting. We are traveling to Kathmandu, Nepal, to meet Ranju Dangol, our ANSWER student. In July of 2011, we learned of the program when Earle Canfield visited our church and asked for sponsors. Since that time, we have exchanged letters and photos with Ranju and with the ANSWER staff as well as Mr. Canfield.
Ranju is the daughter of a chicken farmer near Nuwakot, a city in Nepal. She is smart, determined, and ambitious–qualities that Mr. Canfield has been able to identify in the many students he has selected over the years for the program. Through the years, she has persevered in her studies despite a devastating earthquake and her own personal illness. When we first became acquainted, she was in seventh grade, but now she has completed two years of study at the Tilgnaga Institute of Ophthalmology. This young woman makes me immensely proud, and I am anxious to tell her so in person. She has told us that her parents want to meet us, so we will also travel from Kathmandu to her home city.
All this has been amazingly inexpensive in American terms. Elementary and secondary school has cost in the $200’s per year. When Ranju went off to college, it increased to $500 per year. Where can one get a year of college for five hundred dollars? To us, the cost is small, but we know it has made a huge difference to Ranju and her family.
Every student in the ANSWER program pledges to pay it forward. That means the student will begin to sponsor another student once the graduate starts to earn a salary. Many are already doing so. I think part of the success of this program has been the careful selection of the children and the emphasis on academics that is lacking in other overseas programs.
In many ways, this experience has enriched our lives. It is exciting to be a part of a growing network of scholars who now are part of a new professional class in Nepal.