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Meet Durga: A Big Sister with a huge impact

When Durga Bista was 18, she dropped out of school to get married and dedicate her time to household chores. Now, she volunteers as a ‘Big Sister’, vulnerable girls in her home community of Ranighat to attend and stay in school. She has four ‘Little Sisters’, including Nirmala.

Durga (Big Sister) helping Nirmala (Little Sister) with her school work VSO/Suraj Ratna Shakya

Durga Bista, 37, volunteers as a ‘Big Sister’ in Surkhet, Nepal. She's a coach and mentor, supporting four vulnerable girls, including Nirmala, in her home community of Ranighat to attend and stay in school.

“When I first met Nirmala, I found that she belongs to the Dalit [untouchable caste] community, and a family where father and mother struggled for their daily life and basic meals.

Nirmala used to be absent from school for five to seven days in a month. Her school performance was very low. She never asked follow-up questions or participate in school activities. At first, she would never share anything with me. She used to run away.”

Durga has been working with Nirmala and her family to make sure that she gets to school, and has enough time to study when she is at home.

“When I go to Nirmala’s house, I first check her homework, then I talk with her mum to make sure she is giving Nirmala enough time at home to study. I also check whether she has any problems with her schoolwork.

I tell her parents that, because Nirmala is improving her grades every year, she needs more time for her study. Nirmala is doing well, but she still needs some more growth and to work hard. I love her because she listens to me. Because of my lessons, because I’ve inspired her. She is such a good girl.”

Taking her work home

The project has also had an impact on Durga’s own approach to parenting.

“I have changed in my attitude and behaviour within my family. I have one son and one daughter to whom I do not discriminate in terms of giving them education. I think they’re equal and they need to get equal opportunity.

As a Big Sister, I would like to thank VSO, Global Action Nepal, and people of the UK for supporting the girls in this community. This project has really helped all the girls from this community to get quality education.”

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