Member Receives Humanitarian Award for Work in Nepal
Like many of Nepal’s 27 million residents, Bishnu Adhikari was raised in poverty. However, despite many difficulties, Brother Adhikari was able to raise himself out of poverty. Since then he has dedicated his life to helping others do the same. Today, people in more than 1,000 Nepalese villages can thank him for clean water, schools, electricity, and other strides toward self-sufficiency.
As a result of his many humanitarian efforts, Brother Adhikari was honored by his employer, Choice Humanitarian, as its 2010 Humanitarian of the Year. After receiving the distinction, Brother Adhikari recalled some of the experiences that led him to his commitment to serve others.
The Gospel Difference
After being exposed to the hardships of life while growing up, Brother Adhikari later achieved his dreams of obtaining a higher education, pursuing a degree in civil engineering at a university in Russia.
When he was 29 years old and studying in Russia, Brother Adhikari saw a sign at the post office advertising a meeting with the missionaries. He spent most of the evening lost and looking for the location. Just as he was about to give up, he found the home. By the time he arrived the meeting had ended, but the missionaries were still there. He started investigating the Church and was baptized soon after.
Joining the Church gave him a new perspective on life, encouraging him to think about others and not himself.
“There are some material things we all need in life, but if we pursue material things too far on that route we lose our love of God and our fellow man,” he said. “I started learning to find the balance between the two.”
It was in 1989, after returning home to Nepal from Russia with his new perspective, that he felt he understood his mission in life. After watching his then-60-year-old mother spend half an hour carrying water from a well back to her home, he knew he needed to be of more assistance.
“When I came back I had different desires. I got to my village to see my parents and nothing had changed. I had traveled around Europe, and I saw all the amenities of life. But back [in Nepal] everything was the same. I thought, ‘I need to reorient myself.’”
Since making a commitment to reorient himself, Brother Adhikari has worked on developmental projects for the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and USAID. In 2001 he joined the Choice Humanitarian team.
One of the main goals of Choice Humanitarian is to help villages become self-sustainable. Strides are made in this direction through a number of different projects.
While involved with Choice Humanitarian, Brother Adhikari has provided leadership for more than 1,000 Nepalese villages, helping them complete 21 water projects, 33 schools, and 900 biogas digesters (a natural processing system for organic materials that provides a renewable energy source using biogas).
On 11 of the 21 water projects, LDS Charities worked in conjunction with Choice Humanitarian. As a result of these 11 projects, Brother Adhikari estimates that about 35,000 people now enjoy the benefits of clean water delivered right to their villages.
Brother Adhikari hopes for a day when international aid will no longer be necessary, local resources and leadership will be fully utilized, and villages will become self-sustaining. “I hope one day to be out of a job,” he said.
In addition to leading humanitarian projects, Brother Adhikari serves as the branch president over the 133 Church members in Nepal.
He is grateful for the opportunity to help meet the needs of his countrymen both physically and spiritually. He believes that serving others is a fundamental part of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Brother Adhikari insists that there are many ways to give back to one’s community. In addition to giving of one’s time, he also recommends simply getting to know other people.
“Learn how other people live—what are their challenges, what are their wishes in life, and how do they raise their families,” he encouraged. “Coming to understand others and doing something to help them can change your life.”