Seven years ago, East Shore members Laurie Wick and Suzanne Tessaro chose to sponsor 11-year-old Ashmi Rana because they wanted to help a Nepalese girl get a good education. Ashmi, now 18, has recently been accepted into the prestigious Automotive Engineering School at Kathmandu University!
So how did this happen? How did this poor girl from a small village get accepted into “the Harvard of Nepal”? It happened because ANSWER, a social services group that seeks out talented, but low caste school children in Nepal, was there for her, as were Laurie and Suzanne.
Originally, Ashmi lived in a small town a couple hours outside Kathmandu. Her mother operated a small grocery stand on the street there, supporting her two daughters alone. Ashmi attended a public school where she was identified as a top student by school staff, making her eligible for interview by ANSWER-Nepal founder, Earle Canfield. Soon thereafter, she was transferred to an English-taught school where her tuition was paid by Suzanne and Laurie, who also got to know her as they exchanged letters twice a year.
Ashmi grew in confidence. She was expected to go into another career but she fixated on automotive engineering as her choice and then she made it happen. Ashmi was stubborn, and not to be talked into a more conventional career. Moreover, she had the grades, passed the tests, spoke English, and had learned leadership skills through her ANSWER social service classes.
Now that Ashmi’s university tuition is greater, Suzanne and Laurie “upped their game” and recruited Gail Knoeppfler to join Ashmi’s team. Gail helps with the increased tuition, and they all enjoy knowing that they are supporting only the sixth woman ever accepted into this engineering school. “She is more self-assured now by fact that she found her own path,” says Laurie. “She has a very supportive mother, who had ambitions for her daughters,” added Suzanne. “We are very proud of her.”