I am honored to have the opportunity to spend this beautiful evening with you. This year marks the 16th anniversary of Binaytara Foundation’s formal/legal existence. This journey has not always been easy, but it has been an incredible path of learning, growth, and fulfillment. Above all, it has been a journey shaped by the kindness, friendship and generosity of so many amazing volunteers and supporters.
When Binay and I first talked about our life’s goals and how we could best serve humanity, we did not know how it would all unfold. I was 25, he was 30 – we both were still building our careers. I was planning to do an MBA, start a family, and write books. Even though I wanted to make a difference in the world, starting a nonprofit was not on my agenda.
Binay said – “If we don’t start now, we will never do it.” I agreed. Later that month, we met with a few friends and brainstormed ideas about how to begin. We set aside $300 from that month’s paycheck to get us started. Sixteen years later, as I reflect on this journey, I feel privileged that we have grown from a team of two in 2006 to a team of over 300 volunteers and over 1500 donors in 2023.
People ask me why I am so passionate about what we do here at the foundation. I will be honest with you; I was not always this way. I have had my fair share of skepticism and doubts. Our first project did not go well, and I felt discouraged, felt like giving up. Every time I feel discouraged and doubtful, I find myself surrounded by people who have given me more than I ask for, more than I need, and perhaps more than I deserve. I can’t help but be inspired…
When we started the foundation’s work, so many people came along and supported our mission. In 2018, with the generous support of donors like you, we established a 25-bed cancer hospital in Janakpur, Nepal. We have our head & Neck surgeon from Janakpur here in this room tonight – Dr. Rubina Suwal. She performed the state’s first head & neck surgery in 2022. Since then, she has treated many patients with head & neck cancers. Those patients are alive because we have the cancer hospital there, and because we have skilled surgeons like Dr. Suwal in Janakpur. Those patients are able to spend time with their children and grandchildren because of your generosity and support.
How would I not be inspired? In 2023 alone, our supporters and volunteers donated over 2700 hours of in-kind time to our mission. Some of our volunteers have traveled across the world to support our project sites in Nepal and India, some spend hours on weekends, early mornings and evenings helping our team in Nepal manage patients. Others have supported our education activities for many years, sometimes taking red-eye flights, enduring extreme weather, and prioritizing our efforts over other commitments.
I am deeply moved by the generosity and kindness of our supporters. My passion and motivation also come from the stories of people we aim to help. This work keeps me humble and grounded knowing that people behind those stories are real. It gives me hope and optimism about our world because I get to meet with highly accomplished, kind, compassionate, and generous humans like you.
How can I not be inspired? Especially when there is a lot more work yet to be done.
Today, as I stand on this stage to share about our successes and accomplishments, I am reminded how far we have to go. According to a study published in Lancet Oncology, nearly half of all children with cancer die without a diagnosis. Almost all of them live in low- and middle-income countries. For most children in Nepal, getting cancer means two things: dying without a diagnosis or dying without a treatment. We aim to change that with the expansion of the Binaytara Foundation Cancer Center in Janakpur. This 200-bed hospital will have a dedicated children’s cancer unit. Once completed, this center will be able to treat 300 children with cancer annually.
Tonight, I am asking for your help to develop the pediatric oncology unit at this hospital. This cause is very personal for me. In October 2008, Binay and I lost our first child to still birth. I was 3-days away from the due date, I did everything by the book during pregnancy. Everything was perfectly normal until that day. But I gave birth to a 7-pound baby who never took a breath. That loss reminded me that there are things we can not control. We accept them as they are.
I know how it feels to lose a child. I have experienced that. By building this cancer hospital, we can give hopes to mothers and fathers whose children have cancer. Those children could become next Einstein or Marie Curie but only if they live. Now, we have this opportunity to give the children a chance.
On behalf of all the people that benefit from your generosity and compassion, I want to thank each one of you for coming here tonight and supporting our mission to bring cancer care to these children and adults in Nepal and beyond.
Thank you for your support!