On the job

Find someone who can nudge you in the right direction

Published On: December 5, 2016 11:37 PM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

Anoushka Pandey, 21, is the founder of Fellow Traveller, a local NGO set up in 2008. She is also a motivational speaker who focuses on body positivity. Pandey is currently an undergraduate student of agriculture at Himalayan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (HICAST) in Kalanki, Kathmandu. 

Pandey spoke to Republica’s Prasansha Rimal about her inspiration to start an organization, the challenges she faces on a daily basis, and tips on starting your own venture.

Tell us more about Fellow Traveller?
Fellow Traveller is an NGO that provides material and infrastructural support to educational institutions and promotes entrepreneurial initiatives in rural Nepal. It also assists volunteer placements in health, education and rural development sectors. Fellow Traveller first started its project from Shree Devi School at Nallu in Lele where we provided scholarships to a few students. We later realized that this wouldn’t work as we were just providing scholarships to 10 students a year which was not even 10% of the whole school. So we came up with the idea of helping the school with infrastructure development, instead of helping just a few selected individuals and later increased the total attendance of the school.

What inspired you to establish Fellow Traveller and work as a motivational speaker?
I had a surgery for congenital heart defect when I was just eight years old. During the time, I came in contact with lots of people who were less fortunate and couldn’t afford the surgery. This made me realize how blessed I was that my family could afford to have the surgery done. That was what, in a way, inspired me to try and help people. I want to support as many people as possible.

What made you focus on the topic of body positivity as a motivational speaker?
I have seen people judging others on the basis of their appearance, despite all their other good qualities. Everybody is quick to judge people based on their looks. I too went through a phase when people criticized me on the basis of my appearance so I know how it feels to be judged by others. You always try to encourage people to compliment women on their intellectual. I am a feminist and that’s probably why I focus on body positivity as a theme for my motivational speech.

How do you manage to juggle work and studies?
I think the key to managing different roles is being organized. I’m a very organized person and make plans beforehand. I can’t afford to waste time and don’t like it when people are late. I take time to fill out my planner every morning and make to-do lists every evening. 

Talk about some of your challenges? 
I had a lot of trouble getting people to take me seriously because of my age. When people realized there was an earthquake in Nepal, I received a generous amount of money but I might not receive the same kind of fund next year. It’s a lot harder to convince people to continuously donate because I can’t go to the schools or health posts and tell them that I can’t afford to help them and disappoint people like that.

What suggestions do you have to those who want to establish their own organization and pursue a career as a motivational speaker?
You should be willing to take every job you get. No job is too little when you are starting out. I started with an internship. Basically, it’s about saying yes to opportunities that come your way when you are young. This will teach you invaluable lessons as well as give you the exposure you need. The network that you build while doing all kinds of jobs will help you later when you decide to work for yourself.  
Also, this is a relatively new concept in Nepal, but I think having a mentor helps a lot, especially when you are starting. Find someone who you look up to and who can nudge you in the right direction.

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