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Meet Samila: Overcoming challenges to stay in school

Date: Sep 04, 2014

Filed by: Kyla Yeoman

Communications Strategist and Global Envision Editor

Samila Sarki, 18, may become the first Dalit girl from her village to ever finish the 10th grade. In far west Nepal, we're helping girls like her achieve their dreams. Photos: Miguel Samper for Mercy Corps

Meet Samila Sarki, an ambitious 18 year-old from a small village in far west Nepal. No girl from the “untouchable” Dalit caste in Samila’s village has ever passed the 10th grade graduation exam. Samila plans to be the first.

As the top student in her class, Samila has a good shot at it — and she doesn’t plan to stop there. “I have many big dreams after the exam,” she says. “I want to serve my village and become a teacher.”

But Samila has three major obstacles to overcome: Her Dalit caste, her family’s poverty, and simply being a girl.

Because they are Dalit, Samila’s family faces deeply-entrenched discrimination on a daily basis. The Dalit caste is the lowest rung on the social hierarchy ladder in Nepal, and it's purely based on family lineage.