Laxman Bhusal, ambassador of hope
“Nepal will win when every part of the society wins.” – Laxman Bhusal
A decade of civil war in Nepal spread hardship and disease. To escape human rights violations, the able-bodied fled to the Gulf States and to Malaysia as laborers. Rural villages lacked electricity and transportation. Illiteracy spread and young people couldn’t find work. Mothers risked their lives to deliver babies, and many suffered from HIV AIDs. Throughout the horrifying upheaval, thousands of children were abandoned, and Laxman Bhusal was one of them.
As a dirty and malnourished child of four, he was brought to the SOS Children’s Village in the Gandaki Zone northwest of Kathmandu. Through the help of sponsors from foreign countries, his SOS mother, teachers, and the loving bonds of his SOS brothers and sisters, Laxman transformed into a confident, socially responsible youth who wanted to become a doctor and help his struggling people. Serving as Vice Captain of the SOS Mitra Scouts troop empowered him as a leader, as did being the school’s representative of the Junior Red Cross Circle committee. He credits the love and cooperation among the children, mothers, and other staff members of SOS for the success of its mission, but he also understands how such a large organization relies on international cooperation. SOS has made all the difference to Laxman.
He visited his home village after the end of conflict and was deeply troubled to see so many suffering from the diseases that were easily preventable, the high infant mortality rate, and the stigma attached to people suffering from HIV AIDs. His dream of becoming a doctor shifted emphasis to the field of sexual and reproductive health. Laxman became a founding member of Gmeiner Youth Club, an organization of former SOS youths working for local development. Through this group, he collaborates with NGOs working in the Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) and HIV AIDs-related issues. He has helped organize training workshops at schools, colleges and in communities. As an ambassador of SOS children’s villages, he has set his journey among those who seek to light the darker part of the world with health and hope.
Currently, Laxman serves as a panelist and advisor on the UN Youth Advisory Panel (UNYAP), where he advocates for SRH issues as well as for those of youth. He is also a member of a Youth Initiative—a youth-led organization to empower and involve young people. This led to volunteering for the United Nations My World Survey where he learned about Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which provide a powerful framework to improve living conditions around the world and to focus international assistance towards these goals, especially for the poorest of the poor. As a result, Nepal ’s poverty rate has declined consistently and is close to its target of 21% by 2015 when 100% school enrollment is also likely. Nepal has received a UN MDG Award for significant improvement in maternal health, though it still isn’t reaching the very poorest.
Explaining to his team of volunteers how the survey helps the MDGs, Laxman was surprised when these “fantastic young people” exceeded their quota by surveying 2,000 respondents. He found the teamwork especially gratifying in terms of leadership experience and shared dedication. Meeting new people from various social backgrounds also proved fascinating. When one woman insisted she couldn’t answer any survey questions because, “My husband is not here,” Laxman understood more fully the extent to which such attitudes block progress.
His endeavors broadened to include cottage industries that might empower those entrenched in poverty, especially women. He is establishing three lemon-based products: fresh lemonade, a citrus enzyme cleaning product, and uniquely colorful jewelry made from lemon peel. Tree planting and maintenance, lemon crop harvest and processing, bottling, and jewelry-making all provide jobs and sustainable income, enriching and stabilizing communities, for which he was awarded start-up capital from the Hansen Foundation.
Through all of his endeavors, Laxman aims to spread a message of peace, love, and cooperation in working toward a global perspective, because he believes Nepal will win when every part of the society wins.