Bay Area woman helps poor children in Nepal

SAUSALITO, Calif. (KGO) -- A Bay Area woman some call the "Mother Teresa of Nepal" is turning 90 years old this month and is still working to help some of the poorest children in the world.

ABC7 News has been following the story of Olga Murray for nearly two decades.

The Sausalito resident could have had a cushy retirement after a successful career as a lawyer, but she chose to spend the last 30 years rescuing and educating poor children in Nepal.

All those years of work in Nepal put Murray and her team on the front line of the emergency response after earthquakes rocked the country this spring. "Our staff in Nepal is working 16 hours a day fanning out all the worst affected areas," she said.

Murray fell in love with Nepal when she went on vacation there in 1984.

She founded a non-profit called the Nepal Youth Foundation, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year with a remarkable record of achievements.

The staff estimates they have provided major support for 45, 000 children. That help includes scholarships, nutrition centers for infants and their mothers, homes for abandoned children and a campaign that all but eliminated child slavery in part of Nepal.

None of those successes would have happened without Murray's dedication. "I never, ever, ever thought that we would grow so much and do much good and last so long," she said.

Murray's foundation is on the front lines of Nepal's earthquake relief led by Som Paneru who was one of the first children to receive a scholarship from Murray years ago. Now, Paneru is president of the foundation and visited the Bay Area this month to give donors a progress report.

The Nepal Youth Foundation raised $1 million in just a month from everything from emergency supplies to temporary homes for children who might fall victim to human trafficking.

Paneru is also focusing on long term solutions to help earthquake victims become independent as fast as possible. "In terms of the homes, I think the people in the rural mountains they need help the most," he said.

He showed off plans for homes that would cost about $1,000 each. They would be built by local people who will learn modern construction skills.

The foundation is using its experience running nutrition centers to set up community kitchens teaching mothers to cook healthy meals.

The need is endless, but Murray and her team are committed. She spends half the year at home in Sausalito and the other half in Katmandu. "I wake up every morning and I know today I'm going to do something great for a child," she said.

Nepal Youth Foundation hopes to raise $2.5 million for its earthquake relief efforts.

Written and produced by Jennifer Olney.
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