The story of one Nepali girl who left for
college in the most unusual way.
Writer: Danna Abrahim
Interpreter: Faiz Hasan
very fall on campus is marked by swaths of fresh
flickering in the background of the university hubbub. She
faces trumpeting into third-year classes with first-
is also kind and patient young woman, one who graciously
helped two bumbling students cast a light on perhaps the
They amass at and maneuver through doorways like herds
most literal example of someone being so close, yet so far.
of lamb, wide-eyed and knobby kneed, side-by-side,
jostling down hallways, bleating, CHEM 101? NAB 002?
First floor? Up the stairs? ...view middle of the document...
their two buffalo and six goats, who in turn live peaceably
Three months into the semester and Kanchan Sunar has
amongst the family of Hindus.
not taken a single class.
Her father is an industrial worker. He works ten-hour
She walked onto the American University of Sharjah a year
shifts at a beer factory an hour away on foot. A caring
after graduating from the Sri Akalai Laur Secondary School
father, he encourages his children to get educated. When
in Nepal, two months after her twentieth birthday and a
she graduated the 8th Grade, Kanchan began riding the
few days after settling into her new home at a
nearby labor camp.
Now, she cleans. She mops the floors of her wouldbe classrooms, picks up the garbage of her wouldbe classmates and rides the bus at dawn every
morning to her would-be university.
Despite her age, no one ever confuses Kanchan for
a student. Her uniform deftly signals to the other
eighteen-, nineteen- and twenty-year-olds that this
girl, whatever dreams she may have, whatever
likes she might share, is not one of them.
Kanchan is a shadow, an ever-present figure
Above: Kanchan smiles for the camera.
bus to the nearest secondary school, a ten-room building,
her: “Take care of your siblings, help them with their
ways off from the village. She was one of the top-ranked
students in her class.
It's been three years but the changes that took place in
Smiling, she tells us that her favorite subject was math.
the household remain.
Had things happened differently, she would have been a
“My mother used to tell me to be a teacher and to teach
teacher– a dream, she says, inspired by one of her own
all the children in the village,” Kanchan says. But after her
instructors, a man whose fondness for teaching touched
death, family took precedent. Seventeen-year-old
Kanchan and her classmates.
Kanchan took up her mother's mantle as caretaker,
Every night after dinner, Kanchan would sit down with her
cleaning, cooking and looking after her siblings and the
siblings to tutor them. She enjoyed it. Her brothers and
house. Upon graduating, she decided to help her father
sisters shared her penchant for learning, taking after their
pay off their medical bills, a whopping 200,000 Nepalese
sister's tenacious spirit.
Rupees. She heard of work in the United Arab Emirates
Evil entered the house then, just a short while after
through a cousin who was employed as domestic help in
Kanchan began secondary school. It settled on the back on
her mother's hand: a malignant black growth.
Like any proud parent sending their...