Saraswoti Adhikari

Public Health ( 2017 )

Saraswoti is a two-time BMKF scholarship recipient. Initially she received a scholarship for a three-year certificate in general medicine, which prepares students to work as a health assistant in rural communities. Now she is pursuing her bachelor degree in public health. Her goal is to educate rural Nepali women about their reproductive health and rights.

“Women’s health is a sensitive issue,” Saraswoti says. “Nepal is a patriarchy and women can’t share their problems with male health persons. Our religion and culture prohibit to talk openly about sexual diseases or reproduction.”

Saraswoti comes from rural Chitwan in southern Nepal. At age 10, she suffered from pain in her leg caused by TB (and possibly a tumor) and had to have an operation. With no medical treatment available in her village, she was sent to live in a home for disabled children in Kathmandu. There she met a social worker named Amrit, who has mentored several BMKF scholars. With his support, Saraswoti achieved the top School Leaving Certificate score in the country for students with disabilities. (SLC is the final exam at the end of year 10, considered critical for an academic career in Nepal.)

Saraswoti says she wanted to be a nurse, but wasn’t permitted to pursue that career because she walks with a cane. Undeterred, she wants to help rural communities gain knowledge and new attitudes about women’s health and other issues, including people with disabilities. She is also interested in public health policy.

Favorite class: “I like family health, because I really like to work in female health. So, in this subject  we study about care of maternal health, child health, and family planning method.”