Nepalese Alumna


International Ecological Awareness Giant Amongst Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology International Student Alumni.

The simple blending of plant research and a few practical approaches to community involvement has impacted an entire generation of underprivileged Nepalese women and children, and coincidentally elevated one young lady from Kathmandu to a type of international hero status within the last decade. This young lady is known personally by a group of ministers and prime ministers of Nepal, the Japanese Imperial Family, and many other influential people she met while attending the 64th United Nations General Assembly in New York in 2009. She has been featured in a handful of newspapers, a primary school textbook used throughout the nation of Nepal, and was even selected for the 2011 list of Nepal’s Top 51 Women, a list which included the famed CNN 2010 Hero of the Year recipient Anuradha Koirala. Her name is Sadhana and she is an international student alumna of Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology.

Sadhana is a founding member and secretary of Kenaf Development Nepal (KDN), established in 2005 with the financial and organizational support of the Japan Kenaf Development Organization. KDN has rapidly become the leading Nepalese non-profit organization which emphasizes the educational advancement of eco-friendly commodity production. According to Sadhana, KDN has many goals, but the primary goal is to explain detailed uses and benefits of the kenaf plant, also known as hibiscus cannabinus, to Nepalese youth who participate in eco-friendly school clubs. In fact, KDN has direct involvement with over thirty schools in Nepal and impacts thousands of school aged children, ages 6-15 years old.  These children participate in KDN-related project initiatives that focus on introducing the kenaf plant as an educational study tool and teach students how to prepare eco-friendly kenaf paper products at school. Sadhana said the sticky byproduct of okra is even used as a sort of glue during the kenaf paper production process, making this particular commodity one hundred percent environmentally friendly.

Sadhana confirms KDN encourages all children within its sphere of influence to be proud of the natural plant resources native to Nepal. With this in mind, the organization has frequently managed to bring together the top students from participating schools for a national KDN conference in Kathmandu. The aim of each conference is to hear from student leaders who have already been educated in previously held KDN orientation sessions focused on kenaf, and who have completed a 6-month kenaf plant growing project in their respective schools. Attendees are encouraged to make project presentations at the conference to discuss their experiences and findings, and open discussions amongst attendees generally follow. Nepalese school teachers, principals, and ministers of education also attend the KDN conferences. According to Sadhana, many of the students presenting at KDN conferences have gone into remote Nepalese villages to share beneficial knowledge of kenaf with locals who would otherwise have no access to such information.

Sadhana teaching kids about Nepal.

In 2009, an entire hall of Everest English School in Bhaktapur, Nepal was converted into the official Kenaf Museum with the help of Sadhana and the school’s principal Bhaktaraj Bhandari. Everest English School is not only the site where Thapa was first introduced to kenaf by visiting Japanese professor and leading kenaf scholar Dr. Yoshiyaki Kamano, but it is also where her own humble start in leadership began by founding the school’s first eco-club. Thapa said the club created a cultural site cleaning initiative called One School One Heritage that eventually gained national attention after being recognized by WWF Nepal and henceforth served as a model program for community involvement for Nepalese students.

Since then, Sadhana has received the 2006 International 21st Century Youth Award, the 2007 WWF Nepal Abraham Award, and a Soroptimist International Award for her admirable work as a female. As one might expect, Sadhana believes her work is not yet finished, rather it has only begun. KDN plans to open a type of kenaf-focused training center, where she envisions a place for underprivileged women to receive economic and educational training through the production of kenaf paper, and ultimately raise the overall standard of living for participants. Sadhana also hopes to see the center become a place to educate and train needy children.

OSUIT will always be proud she found an interest in pursuing a degree in higher education at our university. In spite of all the accomplishments, she has a proven reputation for being one of the friendliest and most approachable alumna.

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