Bishnu Adhikari grew up in a small village in Nepal. Concerned with the living conditions and poverty surrounding him, he went to Russia to receive an advanced degree in civil engineering and then returned to his home to help improve roads, waterways, schools, and other living conditions for his beloved Nepalese people. He has been honored by humanitarian organizations and is deeply devoted to helping people live better. You may have seen him featured in the recent Meet the Mormons film as “The Humanitarian.” We were able to ask him a few questions about his efforts to end poverty and how we can all lend a helping hand in our own communities. Listen to a full audio interview with Bishnu Adhikari on Mormon Channel Daily here.
What humanitarian projects are you currently involved in?
I am deeply involved in finding solutions to extreme poverty. It has been a reoccurring problem among the poor for the last 100 years, when international development aid started flowing to these countries. I am involved in the Self-Developing District Program. The center of this program is the economic development of those who chose to come out of poverty.
We train village leaders in result-based management of their own community development, and we help them identify their own core values and abide by them, such as honesty, transparency, taking care of their own poor, kindness, etc. Once the leaders understand and take responsibility, the job of outsiders is much easier. We do projects [that focus on] the environment and pollution control, education and eliminating adult illiteracy, providing clean water and nutritious diets, economic development by helping set up small and medium-sized businesses, increase savings and banking practices, as well as improved agriculture and animal husbandry practices.
What drives you to serve and improve the quality of life for others?
My past and present. I personally know what it is to be poor and how someone can come out of it. I did it, so others can also do it with a small push. Because of my [Christian] conversion I believe that everyone is capable of becoming self-reliant. My entire development philosophy is based on creating self-reliance.
How has your work strengthened your faith in Jesus Christ?
I started strongly believing that everyone is a son and daughter of God. They are endowed with blessings, if only they recognize them and act on them. I will do that which is in my capacity. I started believing that there are enough good people around the world who also have this similar feeling and are trying their best. This strengthens my faith [to know] that we all are from one God.
What advice would you give to others looking for ways to serve in their own communities and beyond?
I have started the effort from my home. I have seven brothers and two sisters. Once I got my education, I started helping them. Then [I helped] my small village, then my hamlet, and then the entire district. I also travel to countries like Kenya, Mexico, and Guatemala. Countries are all different, but the problems are similar. There is no boundary in this work. I try not to get overwhelmed with what I see. I take it easy and start working—and keep on working. Many support me, many criticize me, challenges come, but my focus is always on what is possible and practical.
For more ideas on how to serve in your own community and beyond, visit www.justserve.org.
Learn about how others are serving by listening to our here to help series.