By Yasmina Guerda
A month ago, as I was walking in the streets of the Nepali capital, rushing to an appointment with a local NGO, I noticed one girl. In the middle of the charming disorder of the Naya Bazaar neighborhood and its permanent concerto of car horns, she was singing with a very delicate voice while hanging her family’s laundry to dry. When I looked at her, I noticed her eyes, a strikingly transparent shade of greenish gray. I crossed the street to ask if I could take her photo and after a couple of shots, she asked in perfect English if I wanted to see her room. “We can sing together, too, if you want… with the guitar,” she added. Quite intrigued by both the proposal and the beauty of the girl, I followed her to her room. Her name was Afrita.
Her house consisted of three low and narrow floors, where she lived with her aunt, her uncle, her nephew, and her grandparents. The floors were made of dirt and there were few windows. Afrita, 16, said she belonged to what she called “the lucky lower class” of Kathmandu. Her mother had left when she was very young and her father – who owned a small business in the city – had remarried and left as well, but he regularly sent money to his daughter to help pay for her schooling. “My dad does what he can,” she said, “but I also have a sponsor in Australia who helps me a lot. His name is Doctor Colin.”
Then, she grabbed her guitar and explained: “I learned to play on a mission trip and now I sing for Church every Sunday. I’m trying to launch a band with my brother called Cornerstone.” Afrita is one of the very few Christians left in Nepal (less than 1% of the population) after the Maoist persecutions. When I met her, she was rehearsing for a Christmas concert and she sang a Christian song called “None But Jesus.”
Like so many young girls in Nepal, Afrita could have been vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. Instead, she is in school, where she is safe, and given the opportunity to thrive and become the famous singer she hopes to be.
We can all make a life changing difference. Do your part. Help a girl. Change the world.