This I Believe

Nayagam - Falls Church, Virginia
Entered on May 24, 2007

I believe the seed I plant today in Lombok, one of several small islands in Indonesia, will grow and spread among the village girls and make a dent on school drop out rates, teen marriages and pregnancies and also on reducing infant mortality rates. With donor support in USA, a village girl is going to enroll in a university in July 2007 to get a four year Nursing degree.

I was born in the late 30’s in a tea plantation in India where I first noticed the difference between the poor and middle class children. I had three meals a day thanks to my dad’s monthly salary but the children of the daily wage coolies who picked tea leaves got only two. Most of them grew up to become laborers like their parents.

After my schooling, I was fortunate to leave India to work for two years in Sumatra, Indonesia in the early 60’s where I noticed the subsistence living standards. Following this, I was fortunate again to immigrate to USA to become part of the middle class. After our sons left home, my wife and I got to visit Indonesia on vacation frequently and to learn the local language and to interact with ordinary folks. For the second time in my life I began to notice the life of the poor, especially girls who quit school to work in the rice fields, marry early, and bear three or four children and age rapidly.

Like others of my generation, I started thinking more and more about my retirement life. After returning from a Lombok vacation four years ago, I convinced some friends, colleagues and members of my family to sponsor two Lombok girls to be trained as Teachers in a local university. Both will graduate next year. Last year I formed a non-profit organization and by now got donor support of $3,000 to sponsor the third village girl for the first year of Nursing training

I believe she will return in four years to her village and make a difference. She is likely to be the only source of health care for hundreds of poor villagers. I believe the village elders will look up to her in a different light. I believe the girls of her village and their parents will also begin to notice her and the girls will stay put in school, delay marriages and child bearing and I believe this seed will sprout many blossoms. I also believe more of my friends, colleagues and family members will take notice and help me to plant more seeds like this in Lombok, Indonesia.