Life tests individuals to the limit. Some live through it and become stronger. Some fail. Rasma Dangol is one such person who has been tested repeatedly and became stronger with each challenge.
I met Rasma first time during a workshop Biruwa conducted at Kathmandu University School of Management (KUSOM). She was in her last trimester of her MBA program. She stood out in the classroom and I immediately told Abhinab, Biruwa’s co-founder, that we should hire her. We immediately spoke to her professor and offered a job. That is the kind of impression that Rasma leaves on people.
Rasma joined Biruwa’s team as our Operations Manager in June 2013 and in two weeks we could feel the difference she brought to the company. Abhinab and I both felt that Rasma will take Biruwa to newer heights. Then suddenly, Rasma got sick. She saw blood in her vomit and got alarmed. She had told us earlier that she was suffering from stomach problems. Doctors in Nepal were not able to diagnose her illness properly and when she went to New Delhi for checkup unfortunately she was diagnosed with third stage stomach cancer. Along with Rasma, her family and her friends, the whole team at Biruwa was devastated.
At Biruwa, we knew that Rasma is not someone who will give up easily. We continued to support her through the ordeal and I managed to visit her in New Delhi in September 2013 while she was undergoing chemotherapy. Even though she had lost about 50% of her weight, I could still see the spark in her eyes. She confidently told me that she will recover and come back to work at Biruwa.
Rasma came back to Nepal in January 2014 and her doctors were optimistic that she will make a full recovery. However, the doctors had advised her to take it easy for at least a year. I made it a point to go see her at least once a month to assure her that Biruwa was there for her. From the middle of 2014, we started giving her small assignments that she could do from home and towards the end of 2014 we started conversations of her potentially joining our team full time again. After a series of discussions, Rasma decided to rather work on a startup so I shared with her a mobile app startup idea that I had been working on. As she had done her Bachelors in Computer Engineering from Kantipur Engineering College and had worked in an IT firm for three years, she was the best person to lead the startup. So starting from March 2015, we started meeting weekly and began developing a business plan for the idea. As we were getting ready to begin hiring developers for the app the earthquake of April 25th hit. So we decided to put the idea on hold for a few months.
Immediately after the earthquake, Rasma began having problems with her stomach again. On June 17th, she left for further checkup as the problem with her stomach persisted. Unfortunately, the tests showed that the cancer had reoccurred. Upon her doctor’s recommendation, she has started a new round of chemo. There is still a possibility that she will have to undergo another surgery and subsequently another two years of recovery.
I have personally learned a lot from Rasma. I recently went back to KUSOM to talk to a few students who are organizing a charity concert to raise funds to support her. Many of the students there said how they were influenced by her even though they had interacted with her for just a few months. I found the same with her friends from Kantipur Engineering College. Through my interactions with her over the last two years, I have developed a close friendship with her and have tremendous respect for her mettle. Even under such adversities, Rasma kept a positive attitude and I am fully confident that she will defeat this new challenge that life has thrown at her. She will come back with a smile, even stronger.
Please support Rasma by contributing to the crowdfunding campaign launched by her friends and spread the word about this campaign. Follow this link for details: https://www.crowdrise.com/helprasmafightcancer