Prativa Khadka celebrated this year’s Valentine’s Day with the kids of Shree Pragatishil High School in Nuwakot. She didn’t bring them chocolates or roses but got them school bags instead. And, for them, that was the best gift of all. Most of these children came from very low-income groups and were discriminated for belonging to working-class families. They had a single set of clothes to wear to school and tatters for school bags. Prativa learnt of their misfortunes and reached out to the school to offer help.
Reaching out to help and launching solo projects to aid the needy aren’t new to Prativa. She has been actively involved in programs and campaigns to help those in need. She has conducted health camps in rural areas stricken by epidemics, distributed free meals to the street children in Kathmandu, covered full medical expenses of those unable to pay, visited orphanages to distribute meals and stationeries and done a lot more. In the past two years, she has initiated over a hundred projects and assisted a great number of other social ventures as well.
25-year-old Prativa was born and raised in Nuwakot. She confesses that from a very young age she was compassionate towards those less fortunate than her. “I considered myself privileged. I had what a lot of people didn’t and wished for. So somehow I felt that I was obliged to help. So I tried whatever I could even as a child,” she says. She adds that her father also instilled in her the absolute need to be kind and helpful.
When the earthquake struck in the year 2015, Prativa promptly joined an INGO to try and help those in need. She couldn’t stay still, she says. Although she was working on projects to help the victims of the earthquake, she noticed that those in dire need weren’t addressed at all. Giving help too it seemed, for most people, was a matter of convenience. “Whatever place was more accessible and easy to reach was where all the help went. The severely afflicted were grossly overlooked and I realized that if I were to help, I would have to make an extra effort,” says Prativa.
So she started organizing her own projects, all on her own. The very first work she did was visiting an old age home in Shantinagar in Kathmandu. She then moved onto helping orphanages, street children, and just about everyone who came to her for help. She also opened an open group on Facebook (by name Happy Family) where people could share and report stories of struggle and appeal for help. Missing people were featured on the page, and incidences of people struggling with health and finances were posted. The group has close to nine thousand members so there isn’t a day where a story isn’t posted. Some people also try to reach out and offer help. The group has played a significant role in bringing light to the plights of people and connecting them to individuals who are willing to help.
With time Prativa’s projects grew in scale and on budget too. Initially, she funded her projects herself (Prativa works for Dish Home) but as she started reaching out to other remote parts of the country she began taking donations and since then most of her projects have been run through donations from the group, well wishers and her friends besides her own money. She also has student volunteers working with her on some days.
Prativa admits to having limitations when conducting her projects too. People, Prativa has learnt, can be as generous as they can be unkind. “There have been many times when the help required of us was just too big of an undertaking and well beyond our abilities. That makes me really sad,” she says. Despite not being of complete help, they try in whatever ways possible. She recalls a family in Janakpur who had serious medical issues and although they couldn’t help immediately, they sent in some aid at a later date.
“When there is a case that’s reported, we conduct a field research of sorts. We identify their need and begin gathering the materials to take to them. What we donate is never fixed, it all depends on what is required,” she explains. The entire process can take anywhere from 10 to 15 days. In the past two years, Prativa has conducted such projects twice every month. In just a few days time, to celebrate her birthday, Prativa and her team are traveling to Sindhuli to donate school uniforms and stationeries at a local school. For her, celebrating occasions is a greater reason to reach out to people in need.
Although she has nothing to gain financially from her endeavors, her heart is at ease and she is a very happy person. “I’m very emotional by nature and I can’t help but empathize with people, especially the less fortunate. I know I can’t help everyone but at least I can take comfort in the fact that I’m trying,” she says.
Prativa definitely wishes to open an organization of her own some day. So far the legalities to set up an organization and then establish a system seem taxing and a little too complicated to her. But she is ready to learn. Prativa calls herself a social activist and that she definitely is. But what is also true is that she is one genuinely kind person.