Family Overcomes Adversity By Creating Post-Disaster Volunteer Vacation Program.
A young entrepreneur who selflessly uses his many talents to help others is Sujan Pariyar, a civil engineering student from Nepal. But to get where he’s at today, Pariyar had to overcome a mountain of challenges, including a civil war in his own country, as well as a long-term separation from his father while his father worked in the Congo to facilitate peace negotiations in that war-torn country. Now he runs a non-profit organization called INXCHAN, offering volunteer vacations to help vulnerable, orphaned and underprivileged kids. Here’s his incredible story:
So, you grew up in Nepal with a civil war erupting all around you. How did you cope with that challenge?
I came to Kathmandu with my mom and sister from Lamjung (a district in Western Nepal) when I was around seven years old. My dad was doing his army service in Kathmandu, which helped us to settle here. However, after a couple of years, he had to shift to the rural areas for his service.
During his period of service in rural areas, the war started. It was a very frightening experience. For around a decade, we did not have cell phones to give us access to direct calls. Watching news was terrifying to do. There were many sleepless nights. Visiting our family or bus transportation on highways were like walking on fire. Anything could happen at any time.
During the war, more than 15,000 people were killed and 100,000 to 150,000 people were internally displaced. By God’s grace, we were not on the list, but we deeply relate to the emotions. If something could have gone wrong at that time, our whole family would have been broken apart.
After the war ended, your father was able to go to the Congo to work on peace initiatives, you shared. Tell me how that came about. How did he get chosen?
Every army in Nepal, China, Bangladesh, etc. gets an opportunity to serve in countries where the United Nations participates in peace development programs. The peace development programs are mostly in African countries (like Congo, South Sudan) or also in Haiti, Lebanon, etc. After around 17 years of service in Nepal, he got an opportunity to serve in the Congo. Recently, he has also participated in a peace development program in South Sudan for a year.
When he returned, he decided to use some of the money he received for his work in the Congo to found several charities. What made him decide to pour his own money into helping others? How did you get involved in this work?
The emotions of war which we had. I’ll bet many Nepalese families had the same. Unfortunately, many people lost their family members. After the peace development process in Nepal, we wanted to be an agent of help of those in need and support as many people as we could.
When we got some extra funds from the UN service in the Congo, it led us to establish our charities, “Innovative Social Centre” and “Children’s Home Nepal.” Having volunteering experience in working with charities, I put all my effort and skills into our non-profit organization. After a few months, I took the responsibility as the director of the organization.
Tell us some of the things you have accomplished with your charity. What were some of the challenges you faced while trying to help others?
Working every day has certainly increased my experience and has given me an opportunity to meet the needs of the people. During the devastating earthquake, our charity was involved in the building of shelters for more than 60 families. Food, tents, and medical supplies for many children, care facilities, old age homes, HIV care, schools, and needs for different families in the rural areas were provided.
After the earthquake, many people had lost their homes, and when the winter hit, we were able to provide more than 300 blankets for those families. We have supported different rebuilding projects and established schools after the earthquake.
Working for more than half a decade, we have become a parent organization for many different local charities working for welfare of street dogs, monks, children, disability care, and women’s empowerment, where we provide our volunteer assistance, donations and advice according to their needs. Our charity is providing homes, education and food for 11 vulnerable, orphaned and underprivileged children in a family environment, additionally sponsoring education for 10 poor rural children whose family income is less than $50 USD per month and regular volunteer English teachers for 40 monks in the local monastery. We are aiming to sponsor 100 children in rural areas in the near future.
After the devastating earthquake, there was so much need for people to help, and being the director, I had to give my full time to ongoing projects, which led me to dropping out from my engineering degree for one and one-half years. I am currently continuing my studies.
It was a great challenge in the beginning to get sustainable funding for the projects. We used the capital we had for around a year, and we struggled the forthcoming year to pay the rent for the children’s home, and to raise money for education fees, monthly food, stationery, clothes, staff, and day-to-day activities.
When you failed at some of your efforts, such as when all of the chickens you bought for your farm died, how did you rise above that to succeed in your mission?
It is always hard to sustain a project if it’s not financially strong. With our charity’s aim to help and give things for those in need, we had to have some resources that would allow us to do that. We did different programs, and most of them did not work for us. Some projects lasted for a month, some for six, and some basically failed within a week.
Chicken farming and rabbit farming were some of the self-funding projects we failed on. We are always eager to explore our potential and work on it day to day. Charity weekend hikes and photo exhibitions are some short successful programs. Currently, we run long-term ventures like the Budhanil guest house, Inxchan clothing (handicrafts like hammocks, bags, crystal necklaces, and T-shirts) and Inxchan’s two-week volunteer program.
A lot of young people your age have their minds on other things–their own careers, parties, living the good life. But you followed in your father’s footsteps to start some charities on your own. How did you decide to do that?
Growing up with a family who loved helping others and with an opportunity to get involved with humanitarian work during my teenage years certainly have motivated me. Many young people are having troubles with finding their passion and purpose in life. I feel humble and fortunate that at a young age, with my parents’ support, I found something that I am really passionate about. I am sure I can be an agent of help and continue my welfare work around Nepal for a very long time.
How did you choose which charities you wanted to create? What challenges have you, as a young man, faced in getting these charities started? Tell us about some of these charities and how they’ve made a difference in the lives of those whom they have helped.
There are more than 100,000 children in Nepal who are not enrolled in school. Being aware of that, I feel lucky that Kathmandu Valley offers quality education and that my parents were able to support my studies. With a vision, the face of Nepal can be changed in a positive way if all the children have access to education.
I founded Inxchan.com, which is continuing the effort of sponsorship to rural children. Inxchan means “New Beginning of Life.” With Inxchan, we provide a unique traveling and volunteering experience for people looking to do something different and to have meaningful work in life.
We create a two-week humanitarian, spiritual, and adventurous experience for people that includes volunteering at a children’s home, sponsoring vulnerable rural children, learning about local handcrafts, culture, food and language, living in a monastery for some time, learning to meditate, and about Buddhism to find yourself, hiking in the mountains, exploring cultural heritage sites, exploring caves, and paragliding.
This initiative of ours is changing the way of traveling and giving an opportunity to people who want to do something new and different in their lives, creating a meaningful experience. There are lots of people in the world who want to travel to find their purpose in life, and we aim to provide a piece of that. The funds from that project are used for supporting a year’s sponsorship to 10 children in rural areas with education. Our next goal for volunteers will be sponsoring 100 children.
When you think about the phrase, “Fall down seven times, rise up eight,” what does that mean to you? What is your philosophy on how to overcome setbacks in our lives?
If somebody wants to succeed, I assume they need to have experiences of failure. Failure is one of the keys to success. It teaches us things like trust, confidence, respect, working on a schedule, dedication, and more.
I have failed many times, which has made me feel that I needed to quiet everything I was doing and go somewhere to live alone without having any connection with the world. There have been times in my life where I felt nothing would work. I can never forget my days when I had to take very long breaths with my every thought in my mind and did not go out of bed for several days.
With all this in my past, presently all the projects are on a good road, but I can tell that there will be many upcoming moments which will try to pull me down and will go by, teaching me very valuable lessons. I consider that failing in your work many times is teaching you brand-new possibilities to rise up.
There are many people who have set an example for all of us to never give up. With failure, you are making your steps towards success.
In my philosophy, there might be no one in the world who can help us to stand strong as our parents can. I highly recommend everyone to talk about problems with your parents.
Be sure that every setback will go away with time. It’s a feeling like being in Hell when you fail. You always need to have a positive purpose for every work you do.
Never lie about the product or service you are offering. People want to listen to you and help you (even they don’t know you) with every possible way if you have the right intention. I feel lucky that I have met many good-hearted people who have supported our work as a volunteer, intern, or adviser. Personally, I always honour them for encouraging us and supporting us, even with our different setbacks.
How can people reach you?
If you will like to support our initiative, you can reach us through the following:
To see some of our works:
As you can see, Sujan Pariyar is someone intimately familiar with failure. We talk about the phrase, “fall down seven times, rise up eight” and truly, Sujan has risen up more than eight times already in his young life. His attitude about failure is what’s important, perhaps even more important than his story, because he knows that each time he has a setback he will bounce back, learning this from his previous experiences. We hope you can take Sujan’s story and apply it to your own life.
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