FEATURE: Building a ‘bridge’ to Nepal

BEIJING (China Daily/ANN) - Nepalese student wants to give back to Chinese society for the help he received in school.

Hanuman the monkey god, one of the central characters in the ancient Hindu epic Ramayana, is considered a symbol of devotion. Like Hanuman, Ganesh Bahadur Damal was taught to be caring and giving as a young boy growing up in Nepal, where most people believe in Hinduism.

Now 27 and studying in the medical school at China Three Gorges University, in Yichang, Hubei province, Damal is putting into practice what he learned in the past.

Damal was born in Bajhang, western Nepal, and is the youngest child in his family. He is also the one who has been away from home the longest, having spent eight years in China studying medicine.

Apart from studying diligently, Damal spends most of his weekends doing volunteer work in Yichang. He has been a caregiver in hospitals, directed road traffic, and most recently went to clean a stretch of the Yangtze River bank with a team of volunteers, where they attracted public attention.

The more than 200 international students at China Three Gorges University have organised various activities. The foreign student volunteer group was established in early 2011.

Damal joined it in 2013. By the end of that year, he was elected the group’s president.

His friends say his nomination as president was not a surprise as he always plays an active role in voluntary activities.

“We have a lot of volunteer experience together, and he seems to have a strong incentive to be a volunteer,” said Belal Tamjeed, former president of the International Students Association at the university.

“He is good at organising related activities.”

As president of the foreign student volunteer group, Damal organises meetings every week to discuss the next volunteer activity. His group has attracted more than 100 international students in the university to sign up as volunteers. To date, Damal has organised more than 200 volunteer activities.

“Leading a group of people is never an easy thing to do, but I do enjoy helping others, and my teammates have always believed in me so I need to persist,” Damal said. “After all, I am doing something I have dreamed of since I was a child.”

During his childhood, Damal was influenced by his family to help those in need.

“When I was young, my mother was always ready to help others,” he said. “I remember she once gave my favourite pants to a homeless guy. I was a little sad at that time, but now I not only understand her, but also resemble her more and more as the years go by.”

In order to have a better command of Mandarin, Damal attended classes with Chinese students on his own accord. As many Chinese students gave him lots of advice and help in his studies, he wanted to make some contribution to Chinese society in return, and found that volunteering is a great platform.

“What they do may seem like little things to us, but as a volunteer team made up of foreign students, they set an example to all students through their efforts and persistence,” said Zhang Baolin, secretary of the Youth League Committee at the university’s medical school.

Damal expressed his admiration for China’s development.

“Since I came here, I find that China is changing every year,” he said. “China has bid farewell to hunger, shortage and poverty, and I hope someday my country can do the same. Actually, the goal of the Chinese dream can apply to any developing country.”

In Ramayana, Hanuman helped build a bridge across the sea in order to reach Lanka and save Sita. Similarly, Damal hopes to build a “bridge” between Nepal and China by volunteering, connecting people of the two countries.

“One child, one teacher, one pen can change the world,” he said. “I believe small things can also make a big difference.

“Maybe someday, we will see Chinese volunteers help clean up river banks in Nepal,” he added, with a laugh.
  

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