Life in Nepal is especially hard for girls, who continue to lag far behind boys in educational opportunities. This was the case for Suma, forced into bonded labor at age six while her brothers go to school. Suma endures her years of sorrow and servitude by writing beautiful music – ultimately getting a glimpse of freedom when she learns to read. Now, she uses her education in a fight to free other girls and uplift those around her, recognizing that change happens when we work together.
Today, Suma is a certified Community Medical Assistant, having completed a 29-month course, which included on the job training. She’s eager to pursue a more advanced medical course that will allow her to open a medical clinic in her village, where there is currently no doctor. Her ultimate goal is to become a social worker.
Suma continues to speak out against the practice of kamlari, and in support for former Kamlaris. In 2016, she shared her story with global leaders and educators at the Varkey Foundation’s international conference on education in Dubai. Suma is now taking English and computer lessons so she can become a more effective advocate.
Suma’s story is one of nine in the film Girl Rising, a documentary film produced by an organization of the same name. Girl Rising’s campaign for girls’ education and empowerment centers on storytelling, recognizing that a powerful narrative, shared widely, has the potential to change attitudes and behaviors. This original film tells nine stories of girls from around the world, including Suma, and explores the barriers they face to education and how they have broken them down. Each story in the film is written by a writer from the girl’s home country and voices by a notable actress.
Suma’s story is told by writer and activist Manjushree Thapa and voices by actress Kerry Washington.
A note to parents: Suma’s chapter focuses on the issues of poverty, access to education, cultural influence, gender inequality, and the practice of selling children into bonded labor in developing countries. Parents are encouraged to view the content prior to watching with younger audiences. Children are encouraged to examine the negative aspects of Suma’s childhood, and to explore the positive influences in her life.