Whenever Pushpa Basnet's organisation was in need of funds, a Good Samaritan would show up at her doorsteps. Basnet, who set up an organisation to take care of children of the incarcerated, says her worst nightmare is not being able to sustain her work.
"There were times when I felt frustrated," says Basnet, who has been nominated for this year's CNN Heroes Award. "However, someone would always show up to help us at the end."
Basnet is the founder/president of Early Childhood Development Centre and Butterfly Home, which has been able to sustain itself over the years due to generous support from individuals both in and outside Nepal.
"I remember approaching the jailor of a prison in Kathmandu. I told him that I would like to run a day care centre for children who are living behind bars for no fault of their own," recollects the young Social Work graduate. "The jailor first took my idea lightly, but after seeing that I was serious, gave me some advice."
In 2005, Basnet and her friends raised Rs 70,000 an rented a house in Bhatbhateni to house children of women serving prison sentences. The simple idea of providing limitless opportunities to children, who would otherwise be confined to the dungeons, slowly began to test her tenacity. But armed with compassion and belief in herself, she took the challenges head-on.
"The money we raised to start the day care centre lasted only for five-six months," said Basnet. "With rising market prices, it was difficult to provide for the children. It was also not easy to convince the women that their children would be safe with us," the children's Pushpa 'Mamu' remembers. “I was once out of money and looking for ways to raise funds.
Just then, a stranger donated Rs 535 for the organisation. A small amount it may seem, but I accepted it and more people chipped in to help run the organisation.”
Over the years, things have changed for the better. Children under Basnet's care no longer need to return to the prison at night. The day care centre has now been transformed into Butterfly Home to provide a safe and nurturing environment to the children. A total of 44 children now live at the centre, which has 10 staffers.
The Glass Waters Foundation and the Sikshya Foundation have been doing their bit to support the endeavour. Basnet herself was recently awarded South Korea's prestigious Elga Youth Award.
"We have been able to take care of children, provide them what they need. We want to keep the number small so that each child gets individual attention." Government agencies have also started supporting Basnet's work.
Authorities help the centre find children who are living in prison. “Thank god, my nightmare has remained a nightmare," she adds. "My dream is to buy a house with enough land for my children.”
“I hope that this time also god has sent the CNN award jury as Good Samaritans. The $ 250,000 prize would go a long way in providing a good future for many more children."
Pushpa Basnet was selected in the final list of CNN Heroes Award 2012 through unanimous Jury decision, winning a $50,000 grant amount for her efforts and contributions in rescuing the children living in prison with their parents.
The final result for CNN Heroes Award 2012 award will be announced at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California, on December 2 which will be aired live through CNN. The CNN Hero with highest public vote will be awarded with an additional $250,000 to continue his/her work. Nepali social worker Anuradha Koirala had bagged the title of CNN Hero back in 2010.
To vote for Pushpa Basnet: http://heroes.cnn.com/