It’s been one year since The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints produced the feature-length documentary film "Meet the Mormons," which highlights the lives of six church members from different parts of the world.
One of those members was Bishnu Adhikari, the humble humanitarian and engineer from Nepal. For him, the last year has been an eventful journey, to say the least.
For starters, he’s gained something of Mormon celebrity status, which has benefited his humanitarian efforts, but the extra attention has also made him a little uncomfortable.
“Now I understand why the Hollywood stars are hiding themselves most of the time,” he said with a laugh. “When (I’m) traveling in airports, people say, ‘Hey, I know you. Can I have a picture with you?’ That gives me immense satisfaction and pleasure to know how many members around the world care about church movies. I’ve been amazed at the response.”
After laboring to help the Nepalese people following a devastating magnitude 7.8 earthquake in April, Adhikari traveled to Utah in September to deliver his daughter, Smina, to Brigham Young University and reconnect with associates at Choice Humanitarian as well as other friends within his welfare network.
While in the United States, Adhikari was invited to speak at multistake church firesides in Seattle, Houston and Arizona. He also made time to meet with LDS Business College President J. Lawrence Richards to discuss how more Nepalese returned missionaries can enroll in classes there.
“It’s been wonderful,” said Adhikari, whose number of Facebook friends has climbed from 300 to 5,000 in the past several months. “I’ve been blessed. I don’t consider myself anything special other than a regular member of the church, but the Lord has given me this opportunity to be in that movie and it has brought a little commotion and exposure for me. It has taken me to a larger audience and given me a greater ability for the work I do.
“At the same time,” he added, “I am mindful that the Lord has trusted me with this responsibility, and I will continue to work humbly (so) that I can be an example in this work. I’m grateful I can do it for the benefit of the people back home and members around the world.”
Aside from the increased visibility, Adhikari’s greatest joy has come from helping his people recover from the earthquake, which was “a big blow to that country,” he said. One major focus has been securing temporary classroom-size tents that can serve as schools during the day and shelters at night. Thousands of pounds of rice and lentils, staples of life in Nepal, and other supplies have also been distributed among the people, Adhikari said.
Adhikari and Choice Humanitarian have assisted in implementing a program that has helped more than 800 families emerge from “extreme poverty,” which means they live in better shelters, they have running water and their children can attend school.
Choice Humanitarian and others have donated funds to help people start life-sustaining businesses. One woman used a small amount of money to buy seeds to cultivate and sell spinach, cauliflower and other vegetables. One family planted a banana tree and started a co-op of banana farmers. Another man started a goat farm and small fish pond.
The scope of their work has included helping women gain leadership skills and have a dignified voice in the community. Nepal has a history of discriminating against women, Adhikari said.
“It’s been a wonderfully encouraging program,” he said. “We find projects and activities that can better influence lives. We hope this model can be duplicated in other locations around the world to help others emerge from extreme poverty.”
There will always be people in the world who need help, he said, adding that it’s exciting, fulfilling work.
“It’s not about raising money alone; it’s about the network you create and the excitement for change,” Adhikari said. “It’s the excitement of living the gospel.”
For more information about Choice Humanitarian and its global projects, visit choicehumanitarian.org.
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