Bonita Sharma, the champion of Lead 2030 Challenge, has been the latest motivation to all youth of Nepal.
Last week, 24-year-old Sharma, co-founder, and CEO of Social Changemakers and Innovators ( SOCHAI ) was declared the winner of the Lead 2030 Challenge for Sustainable Development Goal ( SDG ) # 2 ‘Zero Hunger’ group initiated by One Young World and supported by the RB ( Reckitt Benckiser ) Group.
Sharma continues to be awarded US dollar 50, 000 and will receive 12 months mentorship help from her Challenge Partner RB to help amplify the consequence of her project at SOCHAI.
Winning the coveted title, Sharma has verified and set an example to aspiring youth and potential changemakers of her age.
Talking about her motivation behind her noble initiative she declared, “While interacting with the local women in Lubhu of Lalitpur region we met a mother Chirimaya, who shared the story of her neighbor Sangita (name changed). Sangita had given birth to a baby boy and her whole family was really happy welcoming the newborn in their family. While the kid was only two months old, Sangita fed him cashew nut paste. Unfortunately, the nut paste got stuck inside the child’s throat and he died.”
The tale became a turning point for Sharma. She decided to fill up the information gap that had led to the death of the Lubhu boy.
“A kid must be exclusively breastfed for the first six months Nevertheless, due to this information gap, a child and mother may face unnecessary fate. I was devastated to see that many innocent lives are lost due to this data gap. So, it encouraged me and my team to come up with a solution to tackle this issue of poor knowledge and practice of nutrition in our community,” said Sharma, who keeps Bachelors in Public Health and a Masters’ Degree in Nutrition from Purbanchal University and Tribhuvan University, respectively.
Based on Sharma, the startup, Social Changemakers, and Innovators ( SOCHAI ) is a youth-led initiative with a vision to develop health and nutrition of people, especially, women, girls and children through education, innovation and entrepreneurship at the grassroots level.
The first 1, 000 days of a child starting from conception to until it becomes two years is recognized as the important window for setting the basis for a child’s overall development.
SOCHAI is primarily highlighted addressing the silent emergency of malnutrition among these 1, 000 days’ children, their mothers, and adolescents by ensuring they are adequately informed about proper nutrition.
“The emphasis of our solution lies on promoting breastfeeding, complementary feeding, and well-balanced diet during various life stages,” stated Sharma.
SOCHAI believes that the high rate of malnutrition could be prevented with simple and affordable interventions, said Sharma.
SOCHAI creates various creative tools such as ‘Nutribeads bracelet’ which is a low-tech wearable educational tool that informs about how to feed babies in the first two years of their life.
Our educational programs, complemented through Nutribeads bracelet are well received by the communities because it is simple, attractive and informative,” she declared.
The concept of Nutribeads has also won the Asia Pacific Youth Innovation Challenge in 2016, Sharma said.
“This kind of system and recognition boosted our confidence and inspired us to reach more women, girls, and children in the community,” she added.
Apart from, they have also created a menstrual bracelet named ‘The Recycled’ that helps young girls understand the monthly menstrual cycle in an attractive and fun way.
“When we utilize this bracelet as a tool to inform the young girls about menstruation and menstrual hygiene, they get very curious and excited to wear them,” she added.
Within a year, SOCHAI has raised Rs. 120, 000+ by selling Nutribeads bracelet. By selling these bracelets, the group has also raised fund to provide nutrition packages to 150+ disaster impacted mothers and children in the Manaluwa and Simrahi villages in Morang region.
SOCHAI was chosen as one of the most impactful youth-led solutions from 1, 200 applicants from 100 nations around the world, which in itself pride of every Nepali. It has sent a powerful message to all those youths who often complain of not seeing many prospects inside Nepal. Bonita is sure to leave an impact that regardless of situation one can still perfectly do it by studying, growing up and working in Nepal, and still be able to compete with the rest of the world.