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State Honoree

Simona Adhikari

Charlotte, North Carolina

Simona Adhikari, 16, of Charlotte, N.C., a junior at Ardrey Kell High School, taught 24 girls in rural Nepal to make bracelets, and then sold them in the U.S. and United Kingdom to raise more than $6,000 for the girls and their small village. On a trip to Nepal with her mother four years ago, Simona spent some time in a school and witnessed the stark differences in the way many girls and boys are treated in that country. “In rural Nepal, more time, more money and more energy is placed on boys,” she explained. “Many girls drop out of school by the 10th grade, marry young and start families, and end up having limited educational opportunities.” Although she was only 12 at the time, Simona wanted to do something to help the girls she met at the school. “I felt that with just a little encouragement and instruction, that maybe I could somehow change the course of their lives, even if it was just by a little bit,” she said.

Because she was very interested in jewelry, Simona organized a one-day session to show 24 girls how to make wrap bracelets with local beads and buttons. After she returned home, she arranged to have friends or family members who were traveling to Nepal bring back batches of bracelets made by the girls. Simona then sold them at conventions and found a vendor who agreed to sell them at craft fairs across the U.S. Proceeds from the sale of 400 bracelets went back to the girls in Nepal, who used the money to pay for tutoring, invest in small businesses, contribute to their households or just save for the future. With a little extra profit, Simona bought solar lamps for a neighboring village in Nepal, created a school library and purchased a loom for women to make sweaters. “Not only was this project able to help the 24 young girls that I met initially, but it actually went on to help hundreds of others in the community,” said Simona.