Bishnu Adhikari was born and raised in a village in western Nepal and grew up with a simple lifestyle. But through hard work and trust in God, he now has a master’s degree in civil engineering and world recognition as a philanthropist and “Meet the Mormons” star.
Adhikari spoke at a BYU civic engagement event on Sept. 8 about his life as a humanitarian. He talked about the recent earthquake in Nepal and how they have been working to help rebuild the aftermath of its destruction, as well as prepare Nepal for a better future.
The Nepal director of Choice Humanitarian, Adhikari became a well-known name associated with humanitarian work when he made his debut in “Meet the Mormons.”
Adhikari said he was taught at an early age to work hard and trust in God. He said his hard work paid off and he ended up getting to travel on scholarship to Russia and then the U.S. where he earned his master’s degree, something he said would prove very useful to his humanitarian work later on.
Adhikari has done a lot of work to help end extreme poverty. He was named Choice Humanitarian’s Humanitarian of the Year in 2010.
The Nepal native met with missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints while he was in Russia and became a member of the LDS Church. He said it is this faith that drives almost everything he does.
“I consider everybody to be sons and daughters of Heavenly Father. That makes my relationship to somebody else equal,” Adhikari said. “I am not better than anybody else whether I have a different degree or I’ve traveled around the world, still in the eyes of God I am one of his children. That gives me perspective to respect everybody in the community.”
Adhikari explained that Choice Humanitarian is working to eliminate extreme poverty by building self-developing villages. He said these villages are really beneficial to the natives because they allow them to continue their normal way of living. He also said the villages provide ample room for livestock and gardening so the natives can feed themselves and make a living.
The guest speaker showed pictures of Nepal before the earthquake and contrasted them to the pictures depicting the horrible wake of destruction left by the April 2015 Gorkha earthquake. He told stories of the people who sacrificed to help build the community back up after the earthquake’s wreckage.
He also shared five things that he believes will help to bring all families out of extreme poverty: cooking, gardening, reading, savings and leadership.
The humanitarian explained the reasoning behind each need and encouraged everyone to become natural leaders themselves.
“Even with all of these challenges, Nepal will rise again. That is my belief,” Adhikari said.
He said he is continuing to work on projects in Nepal. He said his new program will hopefully help to end extreme poverty in the country.
“My hope is to create a program and pilot it, so that, if it works or when it works, it will be able to eliminate extreme poverty of Nepal as well as many other countries that suffer from extreme poverty,” Adhikari said.
The “Meet the Mormons” star said he has always been drawn to working with people. He said he feels a connection with people and does not enjoy work where he does not have a direct connection to people. He explained that his heart and feelings have always brought him back to the people of Nepal.
Pearl Wright, Choice Humanitarian’s communication specialist, explained her thoughts about Adhikari in an email.
“Working with Bishnu makes me want to redouble my efforts. I watch how hard he works and how humble he is and I want to be more like him,” Wright said. “He has a beautiful soul.”
Leah Barker, CEO of Choice Humanitarian also had some thoughts to share about Adhikari and his work.
“‘Namaste’ means the divine in me honors the divine in you. Bishnu is the embodiment of that,” Barker said in an email. “He sees the best in others and wants to serve his fellow man however he can.”
Adhikari also mentioned that there are many ways in which students can make a difference. Choice Humanitarian offers service expeditions to all seven countries that they are doing work in right now. He said they also provide internships in Salt Lake City with great opportunities to travel and learn. Other projects or fundraising activities are great ways to get involved.
In “Meet the Mormons,” Adhikari admitted that he is far from perfect. He explained that he has many faults and weaknesses just like everyone else and said putting in the effort is what matters.
“I am perfect in one thing,” Adhikari said. “I am perfect in trying.”