Srijana is very responsible; as soon as she returns home, she starts cleaning and sweeping. She also goes to the field to cut grass to feed the sheep. (Photo by Yang Wen-Hui; Lumbini, Nepal; 2023/01/07)

At an early age, Srijana lost her mother. Her father remarried and moved away, and she could only live with her grandparents. At the age of seventy, her grandmother worried about who would take care of Srijana should she become unable to work or pass away.

Additionally, Srijana's aunt recently returned from Kapilvastu in the central west of Nepal, while her husband had a temporary work assignment in Mumbai in India. She brought her two young children along. This added strain to the circumstances of the Srijana family, which were already challenging.

Their main source of income came from Srijana's grandfather, who harvested around 200 kilograms of wheat each year. During the winter months, they cultivated mustard greens. Srijana's grandmother told the volunteers that the rice provided by Tzu Chi was sufficient to sustain the family for a month.

Eleven years old, Srijana was a responsible and shy girl. After school, she returned home and immediately did housework, such as cleaning and sweeping. She also helped in the fields by cutting grass for the sheep and assisting by harvesting vegetables for family meals.

Srijana could only study at night; her impoverished home lacked electricity. She diligently did her homework on the bed using a weak flashlight. (Photo by Yang Wen-Hui; Lumbini, Nepal; 2023/01/07)

When her grandmother returned from the fields with lunch containers, Srijana would diligently take them and use rice husks to clean them until they gleamed. She would then serve meals to her younger cousin before having dinner with her grandparents. This was her daily routine.

Managing all these household chores left Srijana with little time to study, especially because their home lacked electricity. Her academic performance suffered as a result. During a further visit, Tzu Chi volunteers witnessed Srijana's dedication as she diligently did her homework on her bed using a weak flashlight; this evoked deep sympathy among them.

On March 6, 2023, just before darkness fell, volunteers brought a solar panel to Srijana's home. When they turned it on, the room instantly brightened, and the entire family erupted into cheers. Encouraged by the volunteers, Srijana was determined to complete her homework that night, now that they had lighting to facilitate her studies.

Before nightfall, Tzu Chi volunteers brought solar panels to install lighting equipment at Srijana's home. (Photo by Yang Wen-Hui; Lumbini, Nepal; 2023/03/06)

With her cheerful disposition, Srijana always greeted the visiting volunteers with a polite smile. She expressed her love for school and her dream of becoming a teacher. Her notebooks had neatly written assignments. The volunteers encouraged her to pay attention in class and practice Jing Si Aphorisms, sign language, and songs she learned at school; then she could teach her younger cousins, thereby improving her skills as a future teacher.

Aware of Srijana's passion for art, the volunteers provided her with colored pencils and sketchbooks, hoping to nurture her talents. They imparted the wisdom that "one should never underestimate oneself, as every person has limitless potential," to motivate her to embrace a broader, more fulfilling life.

Srijana could not understand why her grandmother set aside a handful of rice each day. The volunteers explained: "Everyone can perform acts of kindness. By saving a handful of rice each day, you can help others while also creating blessings for yourself."

Never underestimate yourself -- we all have unlimited potential.
Join Tzu Chi. Together we can make the world a better place.

Story by Goh Lam Kia, Liao Yue-Hong, Li Zhi-Chen, and Wang Yu-Chang