KATHMANDU, March 8: Sunaina Raut, 24, is a nature guide based in Chitwan. Probably, she is the only female nature guide form the Tharu community which inhabits the country’s southern plains.
Interestingly, Sunaina started working in the tourism sector at the tender age of 14. But it was difficult for a girl to establish herself as a nature guide.
Further, she belonged to the backward Tharu community. However, she overcame all the odds and became successful in making a career in tourism industry.
Sunaina was only four years old when her dad married another woman.
“Our struggle began from that very day. I was too young to understand my mother’s
sufferings. Dad kept torturing my father. He used to fight with my mother on even trivial issues,” she remembers. “My mother showed a lot of courage and fought with everything that came our way. She always encouraged me to be brave and fight injustice.”
Born and brought up in Sauraha – the tourist hotspot adjoining Chitwan National Park, she had all the knowledge of her surroundings which helped her to make a career in guiding.
But things were not easy. She was too young to apply for guiding license.
But she persuaded her mother to change her date of birth while applying for citizenship certificate.
“Though I was eligible to take nature guide training, they initially rejected my application asking me to try something else. But seeing my determination, they had to budge. It took be about one and half hours to convince them,” she added.
Not only the national park officials, my community and neighbors also were against me initially. They would say I cannot make a career in the sector dominated by men.
However, Sunaina have proved all of them wrong. She has showed her community there is nothing women can’t do.
Her guiding career has brought her to Kathmandu now. She is working as a tourist guide in Kathmandu and has even climbed a trekking peak.
Now, she has another dream – climbing Mount Everest. Looks like sky is the limit for this courageous Tharu woman!