An investment that changes lives

BMKF sponsors share their stories

Whenever possible, BMKF matches individual donors with a scholarship recipient for a yearlong sponsorship or the duration of her studies. The relationship is a win-win for everyone. Sponsors cite the satisfaction of helping young women achieve their dreams and make a difference in their society. BMKF scholars say it’s tremendously empowering to have financial support plus personal encouragement from someone who believes in them and supports their efforts to achieve an education and career.

Here are some of their stories:

Ellen Moos:  Shanta Sapkota, Education (2011)
Darren and Marisa Schoen:   Sarita (2014) and Babita Sharma (2016)
Rossana de la Noval:  Sita Chaudhary, Health Sciences (2015)
Bill and Micki Lippe:  Sharada Chhetry, Medicine (2010)
Jaya Ramesh and Ravi Subramanian:  Sima Rana, Education (2015)

Sponsor: Ellen Moos
BMKF Scholar Shanta Sapkota, Education (2011)

“Initially, when I sponsored Shanta’s education through BMKF, I was not aware that my investment would make such an impact not only on Shanta’s life, but also ultimately on the women in her village and the ongoing educational support for women in a country that struggles with gender bias.

“Nepal is an agricultural society, so the senior female can have a commanding role within the family, make critical decisions on planting and harvesting, and determine expenses and budget allocations. Yet women’s lives remain centered on traditional roles. Despite their economic contributions, women remain subordinate to men in almost every aspect of life.

“One major differentiator of women’s status is the education they receive, since illiteracy imposes the greatest hindrance to equal opportunity. In recent years, the Nepal government has made efforts to support women in politics, business, and healthcare with an increased awareness of education as the foundation for a socially and economically strong country. My contribution as a Shanta’s sponsor also helps to alter perceptions about women and support change.

“Shanta comes from the village of Banepa, a few hours from Kathmandu. Her passion is to make education more accessible to people in and around her village, and she has been steadfast in pursuing her professional dreams. Shanta recently earned her Master’s Degree in Education and plans to teach high school History or Sociology. Eventually, she would like to work as a school Supervisor. Already, she serves as a role model for other women in her community.” —Ellen Moos

Sponsors:  Darren and Marisa Schoen
BMKF scholars Sarita Sharma, Electronics Engineering (2014)
and Babita Sharma, Civil Engineering (2016)

We were introduced to the Bo M. Karlsson Foundation by our friend, Jennifer Bennett, who invited us to one of BMKF’s silent auctions. Jennifer’s enthusiasm for Nepalese culture and women’s education was infectious, and as well as going home with as charming set of Nepali bells, we also left with a desire to contribute to such an amazing cause.

“Over the past four years, we’ve sponsored Sarita and her younger sister Babita, and organized a fundraiser to help another scholar, Rebikah Bandhari, continue her schooling. These amazing young women are doing the real work, the hard work, and it’s been an awe-inspiring and fulfilling experience for us to help them achieve their dreams and give back to their communities. We love to receive their emails and photos, and hear how their lives are progressing! We were so proud to see Sarita graduate and embark on her Information Technology career. We know she will do great things! Her younger sister Babita is cut from the same cloth: she is also excelling in her studies.

“We can’t wait to see what’s next for both sisters. Our lives are enriched by the privilege of being part of the Bo M. Karlsson Foundation, and the incredible work that it does.”
Marisa Schoen

Photos: Sarita Sharma, far left. Babita Sharma, right.

Sponsor:  Rossana de la Noval
BMKF scholar Sita Chaudhary, Health Sciences (2015)

“Many people who donate money would love to know exactly what project or which human being is on the receiving end. The Bo M. Karlsson Foundation’s sponsorship program makes that possible. My sponsorship allows a young woman named Sita Chaudhary to earn a bachelor’s degree in health science.

“Sita is a member of the Tharu people, an indigenous group in the southern Terai region that continues to struggle for their rights. I know that Sita’s inner strength will keep her on a path of continued learning and self-discovery, and I look forward to hearing about how she applies her knowledge and skills to improve lives.

“I made my first donation to the Bo M. Karlsson Foundation in 2004, out of admiration for my mother Sonnia Karlsson’s work to raise funds for women’s scholarships in Nepal. I decided to become a sponsor because of my awe and respect for the efforts made by the young women who receive the scholarships. My hope is that each BMKF scholarship recipient experiences graduation day–and that when she holds the degree certificate in her hands, she realizes that she made her own dreams come true by persevering and she has the power to define what success means to her.”
Rossana de la Noval

Sponsors:  Bill and Micki Lippe
Sharada Chhetry, Medicine (2010)

“My wife and I met Sharada in 2005 when we visited Ama Ghar, a children’s home in the Kathmandu Valley. Wise beyond her 15 years, with a focus one rarely sees in someone that young, Sharada told us about her dream to become a medical doctor and bring health care to the needy in her country.

“Two years later I returned to Nepal and visited Sharada in her childhood home in the far western part of the country. She described her challenges to education and how her goal of becoming a doctor kept her energized despite rising early in the morning to do chores, the long walk back and forth from school, the after-school and evening chores and, finally, during the time remaining at night to study, by the light of an oil lamp because of the lack of electricity.

“That’s when I decided I would help make Sharada’s dream a reality. The opportunity came a year later when Sharada was accepted to medical school in Nepal but lacked the finances to attend. Through a scholarship awarded by the Bo M. Karlsson Foundation, my wife and I sponsored Sharada and funded her six years of medical education.

BMKF scholar Dr. Sharada Chhetry

“The result? Sharada completed her medical degree, became a doctor, and is now pursuing specialized training. Needless to say, we also enjoy a very special relationship with Sharada, our “adopted daughter.” We do wish she would learn the time difference between Nepal and the U.S., but not matter what time she calls, it’s always great to speak with her! Sponsoring Sharada is empowering and rewarding because we helped her achieve her dreams.

“But Micki and I realize that our “investment” will be leveraged in multiple ways: In Nepal we saw firsthand the extreme poverty, health problems, waste of human potential, and pervasive gender inequality. We came to understand what is widely acknowledged now: that educating girls is one of the most powerful and effective tools for fighting poverty, gender bias, and a host of other problems in underdeveloped nations. We absolutely believe that “when you educate a girl, you educate the next generation”–and that families, communities, and society all benefit.

“Nepalese women are caught in a vicious circle. Low status hinders their access to education, while the lack of education, in turn, constrains their status. We believe that our sponsorship will help Sharada reach her full potential and become a contributor and, likely, a leader in her field. Equally important, we see our support as a small step in helping women access education and opportunity.” —Bill Lippe

Sponsors:  Jaya Ramesh and Ravi Subramanian
Sima Rana, Education (2015)
“Our family sponsored Sima Rana’s education for the last two years. We are delighted that we are able to contribute in a small way to this young woman’s bright future. Often times we are dismayed and feel less than hopeful about the world and the painful obstacles girls are facing just to get an education. Sponsoring Sima in her educational pursuits has been a great way for our family to participate in a young woman’s life thousands of miles away!”–Jaya Ramesh