Friday, June 20th, 2008...10:49 pm

The Sticks

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Koruna is from the sticks. The thing is, the sticks isn’t so far away, like maybe as the crow flies– 6 miles from our hotel. Landscape-tually and culturally, driving there was like leaving the big city and entering Little House on the Prairie-ville.

ROADS: Since we’ve been here, I have thought a lot about the effect of roads. The road leading up to Koruna’s hasn’t been there all that long. It is not paved and is mostly used by motorcylces and one public bus. The folks out where Koruna live aren’t totally isolated, but they are in their own little world.

You can see Kathmandu from the roof of Koruna’s school. It is right there, past many a rice field and bulldozed hills  (development is a-comin’). Doesn’t seem as though the people of Koruna’s village get out past those hills much. Maybe an equivalent is–I don’t know–Woodinville, Washington, back before Nancy Wilson settled with her horses there? 

A little ways outside Woodinville, WA.

Koruna is a another country girl. She plows. She plants. She picks. She cuts. And…she is goofy as ALL GET OUT too. My first impression of her was a that she was so focused and serious. She barely seemed to acknowledge we were there. Then suddenly, after school, as she was getting ready to work in the field, she looks directly in the camera and does this hilarious dance, laughs and runs around behind me to see herself on the screen, which doesn’t really work, but she kept doing it anyway. 

I was intrigued by how playfully Koruna flitted around as she worked. She sort of bounced from around from sickle, to bucket, to plow–with purpose, but without any evident stress. She joked with the neighbors as she carried water back from the well. I don’t know what she was saying, but I imagined it was something like, “Out of the way, star and camera crew coming through.” 

I don’t want to paint a too rosy picture of Koruna’s life, because it ain’t easy. Her father died of a heart attack when Koruna was six and her brother, Kamul, was a baby. She is 13, but only in the 5th grade because her mom could not afford to keep her in school.

Then when Koruna was eight, the local principal, a friend of the father, gave the mom a job as a “peon” (that is really the job title, and it feels weird to write or say). Children of staff get free tuition, however, the benefit does not cover uniform, books or other fees.

The finances are super tight and both the mom and daughter work whenever they can. In spite of all they do, the three of them do not have food enough to bring to school with them, so they eat nothing from 9 to 5. This family of three works HARD for a very uncertain future.

Koruna’s mother, Sarada, is lovely and open and carries with her that same sense of cautious strength as so many of the other women we have met. She invited me up to film her praying in front of a little shrine on the top floor of her house. As I watched Sarada’s profile become a silhouette as the sun behind her went down, I could hear her daughter’s voice in my headphones struggling with pronunciations in her English homework. I had her mic’d with a wireless. Smoke from the kitchen on the first floor came up and burnt my eyes and I started to cry. It felt so big to be there with this family, hoping and working so hard.

I can’t wait to interview them. Can. Not. Wait. Koruna has some answers I want to hear. 

An important word about Koruna’s inclusion in our film and her status with the Little Sisters Fund:

Part of our criteria for ‘casting’ Girl #3 was to identify an eligible LSF candidate. So, in effect, casting was also scouting for the organization. It seemed (and seems) reasonable that Girl #3 should represent ‘The Next Little Sister’ in our film. In the abstract, her role is to show the hardship and the struggle and the ambition and strength that are typical of underprivileged girls in Nepal. Girls like Koruna, and their families, are the reason the Little Sisters Fund exists.

Koruna is not yet sponsored, nor is she officially part of the organization. But she and her mother are working with us in a good faith collaboration that we all (us–NonFiction Media–LSF staff, and our subjects) expect will result in her becoming an official Little Sister.

The LSF does have individual sponsorship relationships between donors and girls. As far as we understand, the Little Sisters Fund does not (and cannot) arrange direct sponsorships (i.e., “I want to support THAT girl”). In no way is our inclusion of any individual girl in our film (or our in blog, for that matter) meant as a solicitation for support for her specifically. 

Quite naturally, however, if reading our little snippets of these girls’ stories should happen to inspire you to want to support the Little Sisters Fund, why, we can sure put you in touch with the right people.
Thanks for your support.

1 Comment

  • We are facing the same thing in Rwanda and keep wondering if we need to find out about public education funding. We have arranged no interest loans so that the students support the next student after they graduate. They love this idea as they help choose the next student. However, I understand that funding and a tax base are necessary to support that. We don’t understand why foundation money can’t be used to invest in public schools. Do you know what are the barriers to that by the government so that all children would be educated?

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