The Girl:

“Change is like a song you can’t hold back.”

3 Though her brothers go to school, Suma is forced into bonded labor at age 6. The Nepali girl endures years of grueling work by expressing her sorrow in beautiful music and lyrics. Suma glimpses a different future by learning to read, the first step on the road to freedom.

The Writer

Manjushree Thapa tells Suma’s story. A writer and activist whose fiction and non-fiction help to elucidate the complicated world of modern Nepal, Thapa writes with a full heart and a sharp eye, and with a fierce commitment to protecting the vulnerable through her work.

The Country

The geography of Nepal is at once the source of its mystique and its indomitable challenge. The towering Himalayas, running through the country like a spine, have created villages isolated from one another and the world. Life in Nepal is especially hard for girls, who continue to lag far behind boys in educational opportunity.

The Artist

Suma’s story is narrated by film star Kerry Washington, Golden Globe Award winner, Emmy nominee, and activist working to end violence against women and girls.


Suma is now a certified Community Medical Assistant, having completed a 29-month course in 2016, which included on the job training. Next step: pursuing a more advanced medical course that will allow Suma to open a medical clinic in her village, where there is currently no doctor. Her ultimate goal is to become a social worker.

Suma continues to speak out against the practice of kamlari, and in support for former Kamlaris. In 2016, she shared her story with global leaders and educators at the Varkey Foundation’s international conference on education in Dubai. Suma is now taking English and computer lessons so she can become a more effective advocate.

Suma was rescued by Nepal Youth Foundation in the year 2007 and put through a bridge course to make up for her lost studies before enrolling her in school. Room to Read worked with Girl Rising to support Suma for several years until she left high school and aged out of their programs. The Nepal Youth Foundation is now managing Suma’s continuing education.