“As for my personal odyssey, nothing I have ever done compares to the satisfaction and joy of the last 30 years.”
Since 1990, Olga Murray’s work and partnership with communities across Nepal helped to transform the lives of thousands of children, young adults, and families. We hope you enjoy these photos highlighting Olga’s 30+ years of extraordinary impact in Nepal.
“Lying in my sleeping bag that night in the darkness of the tent, I suddenly knew—out of the blue, in a lightning moment—what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Right then, I made a promise to myself that I would find a way to educate Nepali children.”
NYF was founded on the promise of education. What began as Olga providing scholarship funds out of her own pocket eventually turned into NYF becoming one of Nepal’s largest non-governmental scholarship providers.
Indentured Daughters Program
“In 1990, when I started the Nepal Youth Foundation to educate Nepali children, I never imagined that child slavery existed in the country. Nine years later, I first heard about the kamlari tradition and was outraged that little girls as young as six years old were sold by their parents to work as domestic servants. Someone had to do something to end this dreadful practice—and maybe that someone was our foundation.”
Alongside her dedicated Nepali team, Olga Murray helped to free thousands of girls in bonded labor. In 2013, NYF’s advocacy efforts helped to legally abolish Kamlari indentured servitude.
Olgapuri Children’s Village (J & K House)
“Each child arrived with a unique, heart-breaking story. What they had in common, however, was a chance to begin a new life—an opportunity to start over as part of the J and K House family.”
Olgapuri Children’s Village, founded in 2016, is at the heart of NYF’s programming. This “little oasis”, and the warm, nurturing, family-style upbringing it offers to Nepali children, is perhaps Olga’s greatest legacy within NYF.
This work—of raising Nepali children whose parents were unable to provide stable homes—began in 1992, with J House for boys and K House for girls. It is here some children began calling her “Olga Mom.”
The over 200 children who have been raised in these homes have become successful parents, teachers, doctors, engineers, lawyers, I/NGO workers, government employees, social workers, and more.
“Long after the children grow up, many of them come back to visit me, to talk about their lives and introduce me to their spouses and children. As I sit in my beautiful garden in Kathmandu chatting away with these self-confident young adults, I think back to the time they first came into my life, and I am filled with gratitude and awe at what they have become.”
Fighting Pediatric Malnutrition
“Together, we made a plan to open a small facility where severely malnourished children who no longer required acute medical care could be restored to health after discharge from the hospital. In February 1998, we opened the doors of the Nutritional Rehabilitation Home (NRH), ready to welcome our first little patients.”
Olga Murray’s promise to the children of Nepal quickly expanded into ensuring children had access to high-quality healthcare. Since 1998, NYF has been working to combat pediatric malnutrition through our Nutritional Rehabilitation Homes and Nutrition Outreach Camps. Now, the Nepali government and large organizations like UNICEF credit our work with contributing to the massive strides made in this area over the past two decades.
NYF-Nepal Staff & Community members
“Perhaps most important of all is our conviction that the success of our undertakings depends on the buy-in, expertise, wisdom, and enthusiasm of the Nepali people themselves. The Nepal Youth Foundation has an office in the United States that is devoted to administration and fundraising… but ideas for new programs originate in Nepal and are implemented by locals. We owe our success over the years to adherence to our core principle that it is the people of Nepal themselves who know what they need to achieve a prosperous and just society and how they can best realize it.“
Since the beginning, Olga Murray has emphasized the importance of locally-led and community driven programs. She has always held the deepest respect and admiration for the NYF-Nepal team on the ground in the country, and will forever remain grateful for their partnership and work.
Friendships & Family
Of all the wonderful things to come out of Olga Murray’s work at the Nepal Youth Foundation, perhaps the most special are the remarkable bonds she formed with so many of us. From coworkers and beneficiaries who became family to her, to allies and partners who became some of her closest friends, and to all of NYF’s supporters near and far who rallied behind her life’s work—each of these individuals meant the world to her.
In Olga’s words: “How lucky can an old lady get?“
The Dalai Lama recognized Olga as an “Unsung Hero of Compassion”
King Gyanendra, the former King of Nepal, presented Olga with a medal for her contribution to the welfare of Nepali children.