I learnt to push myself out of my comfort zone, be appreciative of the things I have and to make humanised connections.
Amuda Mishra is the Founder and Executive Director of Ujyalo Foundation and the initiator of a successful women empowerment program called EmpowHER. She is also responsible for creating a violence reporting tool called NiDARR which is a smartphone application with her team, besides being the Co-founder of a local handmade shoes enterprise called DOCHAA. Mishra, an MPH graduate from the University of Colorado-Denver, was also one of the Clinton Global Initiative University commitment makers in 2013. As a part of Clinton Global Initiative – Commitment to Action program, she founded ‘Project Ujyalo’, which focused on lighting up underprivileged communities in Birgunj using recycled plastic bottles. Listed below are the five things that have impacted her life and work:
Trip to Dhading
In 2010, I made a decision to trek through the mountains of Dhading and stay in small villages for almost three months helping people in different activities and understanding different cultures and experiences. I was at a very impressionable age and this trip made a profound impact on me. I learnt to push myself out of my comfort zone, be appreciative of the things I have and to make humanised connections. It also made me open to the possibilities of things we can aspire to do and cut through the materialistic chase of life. One of the major learnings I had from this trip was that ‘happiness could be found in not having many things but meaningful things’. Till date, I am thankful to each individual of Dhading who despite having very less themselves always had more to offer.
Immigrating to another country
Being a first generation immigrant with multicultural representation, the sense of home and belongingness to one particular identity has been a challenging concept for me. However, inbetween and betwixt of finding home, lack of alliance to one identity and living in diverse cultures I have learnt to be inclusive and develop a lens of intersectionality in almost everything I do.
Loss of a friend
Losing a friend at a very young age in a car accident taught me about the uncertainty of life. This particular experience taught me a lot about grievance, loss, empathy and living in the present. I have not become better at grieving as loss is taxing no matter what, but I understand the gravity of losing a closed one and try to do my best each day and stay grounded as much as I can.
Moving back to Kathmandu, staying away from family and starting Ujyalo was one of the most challenging decisions I have made. Building anything from scratch that too when there is a minimal support system is tough, but this experience has made me more passionate and driven about the aspirations I have, stay humble and push hard for my dreams.
All round support
I have been fortunate enough to have amazing mentors, friends and co-workers who keep me in check. At Ujyalo, I have had the opportunity to work with amazing young minds and leaders especially young women. Their drive to impact change in their unique ways with their ideas, their visions to create a better world for themselves and others and their unwavering optimism to see a possibility in everything they do has added immense value to my own journey as a change maker. I am so grateful for these amazing individuals and connections that have influenced and shaped me into who I am today.