Vijay Rana

Project Director Lumbini SOS Children's Villages in Nepal

If I don’t do this, who will?

Watch the story trailer

Looking back over my 27 years of life as a part of the SOS family I somehow feel content, happy and indebted to this organisation for all those experiences and wonderful moments. I left the home at the age of 26 with a heart full of youthful compassion and big ambition. When I first saw the place, there were no proper roads and almost no sign of proper civilization so I had to start the journey with a heavy heart. However, the love from children and the support that I got from mothers, co-workers and my wife played a perfect distraction from the low point throughout and motivated me to keep going.

While working with SOS I have gone through many moments of success as well as failure. I would like to share one of those defining moments.

It was that moment when I was held at gunpoint, literally, that I realized what SOS Children’s Villages truly meant to me. I realized that the source of my attachment to the organisation was beyond a youthful passion, an altruistic dream, or a financial support system; I was attached through a subconscious, selfless bond I call ‘love’.
2006 was a chaotic year for Nepal. In several failed attempts to form a federal democratic nation, the Maoist movement only resulted in riots, strikes, violence, caste conflicts, economic downturn, rising inflation, and turmoil. 

During 2006, I was working as the project director of SOS Children's Village Surkhet, and as if the turmoil in the country wasn’t unfortunate enough, Surkhet happened to be a hub for most of the Maoist activities in the western part of the country. Soon enough, most INGOs and NGOs moved away from the Mid-West because the region was not considered “safe” anymore. I am not sure if it was my courage, my persistence, or just a wishful thinking, but I decided to continue working at SOS Surkhet despite the bombing incident, the threat notes, and blackmail letters from the Maoists.

My family members were very upset with my decision; most tried to persuade me to quit my job through multiple phone calls and some even came to visit, all with the hope that maybe I would change my mind.  Call it my stubborn nature or my committed attitude towards the organisation, but I genuinely never considered leaving SOS Surkhet. I wasn’t sure about my own strength and my dedication towards SOS until one day I had a group of Maoist guerillas threatening for money and much more demands. I found myself at gunpoint, in my own residence inside SOS.

I was a father of three daughters and in that situation I could have either surrendered to keep myself and my blood-related family safe while letting them rob me off my moral principles or played the game of life and death in the hope of winning. As dramatic as it might sound, one simple question put me out of the dilemma at that very moment: “If I don’t do this, who will?” Turns out, the odds were in my favor! Well, I am alive! I am in front of you all.

Those days had their own perks when I remember them. I was young and more energetic than I am now.
Storytelling seems as if it can go forever. Sharing such precious moments of my life with all my collegues from different part of world is a really heart-warming experience to me. But these are just the small part of our life that we have achieved till now. We all must have tons of such experiences. We all definitely shall learn the life lessons from each other. I am eagerly waiting for more of such chances where I can take you further ahead in the wonderful journey of my life.

Vijay Rana

is Project Director in Lumbini at SOS Children's Villages in Nepal.

In 1998, I began my career in SOS Children's Village Surkhet as a village secretary. When I look back at the beginning of SOS Children's Village Surkhet, I must say we had a humble beginning with just two of the senior co-workers: the village director and me. So, I had to do various tasks round the clock from accounting to joining hands with mothers in looking after the children.

In 2002, I became the village director and in the same year, our country was plagued by political instabilities and was plunged into war with Maoist guerillas. As many INGOs fled to the capital of the country, our organisation remained and as the village director, I tried to harness the support of the community and in in many occasions, organised dialogues with the Maoists.

I grew up in a family of 3 brothers and 4 sisters. I was seven years old when our father died. Hard times indeed! Nevertheless, our mother mastered the situation and with utmost skill and care, she enabled a good education for us all. I have been married for 25 years and am blessed with 3 daughters, all studying medicine. In addition to that, our second daughter is the No.1 air rifle shooting player of our country. She participated in London Olympics 2012 as well. She is the pride of our country.

Bhairahawa is my home town. I grew up there, learned the ways of life there and my greatest passion is to give back the very best I can. I am an active member of District Child Welfare Committee and the Lion's Club of Bhairahawa. I treasure contact with organisations working for the welfare of the child.
I am a sports loving person. I play badminton and table tennis with my friends and our village children. Spending time together with my wife, children and home pets are high on my list of leisure time activities.