In July 2016, the Women LEAD family mourned the heartbreaking loss of 2012 LEADer Sujata Baskota. Today, on what would have been her 22nd birthday, we are proud to announce the creation of the Sujata Baskota Changemaker Grant.
This post was written by Leena Dahal, Women LEAD’s Digital Production Intern
Those who knew her well will attest to the fact that wherever Sujata Baskota ventured, so did an undying desire to create change.
That’s because Sujata, with her bright, rare, and infectious “Let’s do it now” spirit, strived to always take action on issues she was passionate about and never failed to uplift other young women around her to do the same.
At the age of 21, she had accomplished much more than many do in a lifetime, especially when it came to one of her ceaseless passions: education. She dreamed of reforming policies issued by commercial banks in Nepal that were currently making loans inaccessible to many students through complex documentation, demand of collateral, and high-interest rates.
When she wasn’t dancing or exuding happiness in every room she entered, she was pursuing this passion—actively working in her community through various volunteering venues to unite young women and girls from marginalized communities in Nepal with educational opportunities. For a country where only 17.9 percent of females enjoy the right of secondary education, having such a young champion tirelessly working to bridge the gender inequality gap in education was invaluable.
So for those who knew her, her campaign to raise funds to sponsor school uniforms, textbooks, stationery, and exam fees for students affected by Nepal’s 2015 Earthquakes, came as no surprise; as always, her efforts were immediate, thoughtful and courageous.
“I know how it feels lacking money to pay for tuition fees,” She wrote on her campaign page. “The only reason I can afford university is because I got two-year scholarship from Wedu for my BBA, to which I got connected through Women LEAD. The reason I can now help children who have lost their home and can’t afford school is because someone invested in my education.”
In a few weeks, she raised $240 and in order to double her impact, Women LEAD matched every dollar she raised. Sujata then went on to invest her $510 of donations in materials for 20 students in need, 15 more that she originally intended. She also joined the Field Innovation Team to educate young survivors about public health through fun, interactive games she had created independently.
These inspiring actions, among a long list of others, were recalled at her memorial, after her devastating passing on July 14th, 2016. The many young girls she impacted, both pained by their loss and inspired by the many lessons of leadership she left behind, were determined to continue her spirit of actively engaging on issues they’re passionate about—not tomorrow but today.
Today, on what would have been her 22nd birthday, Women LEAD is proud to announce the creation of the Sujata Baskota Changemaker Grant, an annual grant for an alumni-led social change project. The idea came out of numerous discussions with the Women LEAD alumni community on what would be the best way to remember their peer and friend and honor her life.
“Sujata Baskota’s brilliance, her thoughtful and courageous leadership, and her passion for helping others access education, truly embodied Women LEAD’s vision—that Nepal will progress when dedicated, visionary women begin co-creating the future alongside men,” says Claire Naylor, Women LEAD’s Co-founder and Executive Director. “Sujata’s generosity of spirit and the impact she had already achieved were living proof that Nepal’s future will be better than its present and the Sujata Baskota Changemaker Grant will ensure her impact and legacy endure.”
Through this grant, Women LEAD is committed to keeping Sujata’s memory alive by empowering others to create change in their communities, much like she did in her lifetime. Though she is no longer with us, Sujata’s legacy will live on through the young people she empowered—and will continue to empower.
A similar version of this blog originally appeared on Women Thrive’s blog.