When Sabitri applied for a Watipa scholarship back in October 2016, she wrote that her biggest dream was to create change in society through law and justice. She was awarded one of the scholarships donated in loving memory of Claire Lee (Gaston-Parry). Claire was generous soul who loved to travel, had a commitment to education and to helping others. She was an Australian trained lawyer, loving wife, mother, sister, daughter, and a dear friend who sadly left us too soon in 2013.
In 2018, after completing 2 years of a 5 year Bachelor of Laws degree, Sabitri remains as determined as ever. Here she writes about her progress this year, how the scholarship has had an impact in her life, and her hopes for the future.
My ultimate objective in life is to become a lawyer and help create equality in society and support women’s empowerment. This has been my objective since the start. I don’t think it will ever change. I can change its form but not its purpose.
I grew up seeing inequality on the basis of caste, gender, class. I myself have been a victim of discrimination. Our society still practices customs and holds values that discriminate against women and some communities. I have never liked this. I have always wanted to change this. Women and some people do not get access to legal services which I don’t think is fair. This is the reason I chose to become a lawyer. I want to give free legal aid to people so that their voices are heard.
The major highlight of this year for me is that I got results for my first year exams. I passed with satisfactory marks, and I have completed my second year too. I am so happy to complete 2 years. Time flies too soon. Three more years and I will be whatever I have been dreaming of. Exciting!
One of my favourite subjects has been the Sociology of Law, because it is an analytical and practical subject rather than descriptive. In this subject, I got to study the relationship between law and morality, society, religion, customs and crimes and their consequences on each other. I also liked Legal Nepali because in this subject I studied the development of Nepali legal language. We practiced legal document writing which has helped to improve my legal writing. We have to use Nepali language in courts here in Nepal.
The most significant thing I learned this year is that we can help each other from wherever we are. We can be compassionate and reach out to people for help. Being compassionate is what helps me become a good human. It makes me happy and motivates me to do good. I wish to reach more people in need. My growing and understanding will forever help me present myself in front of other people and help them.
One of the challenges I have faced this year is that our country introduced new laws. All the notes and books we had was based on old laws. It was all in our hand to research for materials. We could not ask for help from our seniors and professors because whatever they had was based on old laws. Plus I had to read and memorize the provision of both old and new laws and make comparisons. I swear this was not easy!
I had to work really hard during the last few weeks of class. I did group study with friends so that I could understand what the professors had taught in rush. I also took help from my seniors. It was tough but I am glad that I was prepared well enough before my exams.
The funding from the Watipa scholarship has made my life better. I get to study in a good law college, which is the dream of many students like me. My fees are paid on time. I don’t have to worry about finances and can just focus on my studies. I have seen students of my age working to pay their college loans. I am so lucky to have Watipa as my support.
Higher education in Nepal is not easy. Not everyone gets to go to the university. I have seen people of my age working hard to pay their tuition fees. I have seen people giving up on their dreams because they lack adequate finance and support. I have seen people settling down with some cheap colleges that demands less fees. I am so grateful that I have Watipa to support me. I get to go to the best college that provides quality education. I get to go to courts and visit – this is not an opportunity that is available to everyone. I get to visit reform and juvenile homes, which is only possible because I’m in this college. I get to interact with intellects and share ideas all because of the scholarship. I get to study without thinking of fees. I get so many opportunities to develop myself. This is all possible just because of the scholarship funding. My life would be completely different if there was no Watipa. I may not have been able to study law. I may have had to give up my dreams if Watipa wasn’t there.
My favourite experience of being a Watipa scholar is that we get to talk to people from different parts of the world and share about our ideas and works. I, living here in Nepal, get to know about the amazing work done by other scholars in Malawi, Ghana and other countries which are far from here. I like how Watipa has connected us. We can talk about anything with each other.
The scholarship has helped my family too. It has lessened the financial burden on my family, and it has enabled support for my brother’s and sister’s education as well.
The Watipa scholarship has taught me to be responsible and hardworking. It has taught me to be grateful and not take anything for granted. I am really so grateful for this opportunity.
I hope for an equal society. A society where every people can live with dignity and pride. A society where noone is discriminated against just because of their colour, their caste, their gender and their sexuality. I hope for a society which is safe for everyone: a society where women and girls do not have to fear of harassment; a society that respects every individual and guarantees their rights and freedom.
Sabitri Pathak, Watipa Scholar 2016, Nepal