April 16, 2016

Love, spirit and scholarships in Nepal

An interview with BMKF sponsor and former board director Sanju Shrestha

In March, Seattle residents Sanju and Suren Shrestha traveled to Nepal to renew their wedding vows. Suren is founder of 206 Burgers in downtown Seattle, which Sanju manages. He is also founder and CEO of Rain City Burgers in Seattle’s Roosevelt neighborhood and a longtime Bo M. Karlsson Foundation supporter.

Sanju and Suren serve as BMKF advisors. They also sponsored a scholarship for Rama Poudel, BMKF’s new accountant. During their recent trip, the couple were able to celebrate the Bo M. Karlsson Foundation’s 12th anniversary with BMKF scholars and board members in Kathmandu.

“It was a humbling experience to meet all of these great young women, who are full of dreams and aspiration,” Suren said. “The Bo M. Karlsson Foundation is doing some special work to change the lives of Nepali women and I am very proud to be part of it.”

Sanju graciously agreed to an interview:

Tell us about renewing your vows. Is that a tradition in Nepal?

Nepal doesn’t have a wedding vow renewal tradition, but we never had a huge wedding. After so many years, we wanted to celebrate our love and friendship and we did so in a very traditional manner, the way it was done by Suren’s parents in their remote village.

You were in Nepal during the earthquake last year. What was that like?

I spent two months caring for my father in a hospital while he recovered from surgery and when I thought life couldn’t get any tougher for my family, the earthquake struck. We were moved to a hospital tent, where we stayed for a month. I got a chance to meet earthquake victims from all around the country and hear their stories. It was tough for everyone as the earth was shaking every few hours. But as we say, life goes on. Doctors, sisters and caregivers were focused on taking care of patients.

Driving through the city was a horror. Major historic places were destroyed. But this did not break down Nepalese people. They united and helped each other. Neighbors who never spoke before became good friends because they were sharing tents. This brought a sense of community. Soon there was foreign aid from all over the world.

What are your impressions a year later?

This year Suren and I went to Nepal to renew our wedding vows with our friends and family. Unlike the last time it was a beautiful experience. Most of the historic places are being rebuilt. People are trying to get back their normality but the politics are big obstacle. Nepalese people don’t need much to be happy, but they are struggling day to day, trying to rebuild their lives with fuel shortages, electrical shortages, water shortages and so on. But if we are talking about people’s spirit, they seem to enjoy small things in life more, to celebrate and appreciate life more after living through an earthquake that was an end-of-the-world experience.

What did you think of  the BMKF scholarship students?

Suren and I found every scholar to be so confident and driven! I was very impressed with all of the students and how Sonnia didi and the BMKF team has changed their lives. Sabita is providing great leadership as program manager. It was a heart touching experience for us to meet Rama face to face and see how a small donation can change someone’s life.

After meeting these young women, I have fallen in love with BMKF even more. Every single candidate is deserving — and they are able to accomplish their dreams because of the Bo M. Karlsson Foundation.

Sanju and Suren Shrestha celebrate the Bo M. Karlsson Foundation's 12th anniversary with BMKF scholars and board members.

Celebrating the Bo M. Karlsson Foundation’s 12th anniversary with BMKF scholars and board members.