I have a different kind of post for you today but I hope that it’s a story that touches your heart as much as it does mine. I feel so passionately about this cause that I have to share it with you.
A couple of months ago I had the opportunity to attend a screening of a documentary called Waiting for Mamu. It was directed and produced by a local Charlotte film maker, Tom Morgan, who I have connected with in the last couple of years via mutual friends and the yoga world. Tom left a successful career in investment banking to pursue his passion for addressing social issues through film. He and his family sold their home and downsized their life in order to make this happen. His first film was a documentary on homelessness and it’s growing rate in America, These Storied Streets.
Waiting for Mamu was his second major project and it tells the story of Pushpa Basnet who lives in Nepal. In her country children are sent to prison with their parents if there is no caregiver for the child. This is the best that the government can offer the children and while they do receive food and a place to sleep, the children do not receive any sort of education and they are essentially raised in a prison. As you can imagine, that does not tend to set them up for charting a life course much different than their parents.
Pushpa was in school earning her degree in social work when she visited one of these prisons as part of her course work. When she saw the children growing up behind bars, she felt compelled to do something. At the age of 21 she raised enough money to start her nonprofit, The Early Childhood Development Center. It started out as a day care and two years later she was able to open a residential home. Pushpa goes and removes the children from prison (with the consent of their parents) and gives them a home where they are surrounded by other children, fed, provided with medical treatment (which most have never had) and educated. She will keep them for as long as their parents are unable to care for them and even when the parents do get out of prison she continues to pay for their education.
Pushpa is now 30 years old (my age) and has housed over 100 children and helped many more that she can’t take on full-time by providing day care for them to spend the day outside of prison learning and just being a child.
In 2012 Pushpa was recognized as CNN’s Hero of the Year for her work with the children in her home country of Nepal. She is now focused on building a new home for her children which she will own outright and not have to rent. The home will be able to house more children and allow her to grow her nonprofit and touch more lives.
Tom and his crew went to live in Nepal at the Early Childhood Development Center in order to capture Pushpa’s story. They were there for about two months and it’s crazy and eye opening to hear Tom talk about his time there, about Pushpa and about the children. I am absolutely amazed by what Pushpa has achieved at such a young age and by how selfless she is. After I watched this film I was ready to sell my belongings and book a one-way ticket to Nepal. It left me seriously fired up about making a contribution to this world.
We all have ways that we can be of service…anything from running children’s homes to teaching to volunteering to mission trips and more. The key is understanding our gifts and how to use them in a way that serves the world. We are all so different but we all have so much to offer and there are an abundance of opportunities to connect, help, serve, engage in whatever way you are able.
So the point of this post is to bring awareness to Tom and Pushpa and they incredible, positive things they are doing. I have been so inspired by this story and have been sharing it with as many friends and students as possible. I want to support Tom, Pushpa and women and men everywhere who are taking action to change our world.
Now you probably want to watch Waiting for Mamu, right? Unfortunately, it has not been released for at-home viewing yet and is only being shown at film festivals and private screenings. A streaming version will be coming in the future but in the meantime check out the trailer.
The filmmaking and story telling is beautiful. As are Pushpa and all the children. Here are more details on how you can help and support Pushpa.
And check out Tom’s Ted Talk where he shares his story. He ends the talk by saying, “If we can help, we must.”
Thank you so much for reading this post. It seriously means so much to me.
This post is a contribution to Folgers new online community, The Best Part. It’s all about spreading optimism and kindness one share at a time through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I’m honored to participate and support this community.