An expedition to Nepal turned out to be a life changing experience for Olga Murray and now she’s been rewarded for her efforts by the Marin Women’s Hall. Murray has dedicated 30 years of her life in serving and helping Nepali children. “I came to Nepal on a trek 30 years ago and fell in love with the country — especially the children — and decided to spend the rest of my days helping to educate them,” Murray said.
Olga founded the Nepal Youth Foundation. Nepal Youth Foundation has grown as an agency and has touched the lives of more than 45,00 Nepali youth, including children’s homes, counseling centres, school programs and vocational trainings. She has also addressed the heartbreak of child slavery, rescuing more than 12,300 girls from indentured slavery in Nepal.
“After a 30-year career as a staff attorney for the California Supreme Court, Olga Murray turned her considerable organizational and fundraising talents to bringing freedom, health, shelter and education to Nepal’s most impoverished children,” said Jane Winter, executive director of the YWCA of San Francisco and Marin, which stewards the Hall of Fame. Olga has been dedicated to end the practice of Kamlari, a system of indentured servitude in which girls from poor families are forced to domestic slavery. One of the major campaign of her organization is to end the system of Kamlari in Nepal.
Murray was born in Transylvania in 1925 and came to the United States in 1931, a six-year-old immigrant. She always yearned to travel and at 17, she left home for Los Angeles, her first time away from her family. She traveled all around U.S., working at secretarial jobs to support herself.
While planning for retirement, she took a trip to Nepal which turned out to be life changing for her. “I was 60 and approaching retirement as an attorney, and I guess I was subconsciously looking for something to do when I retired,” Murray recalled. “At that time, most children in Nepal did not go to school … it was what they needed most.”
One night, Murray was invited into a little hut on top of a small mountain, where children were sitting on the dirt floor doing their homework by candlelight. She was touched by the eagerness to study and just then, lying in her sleeping bag that night in the dark of the tent,she suddenly knew that she had found a cause to which she wanted to devote the rest of her life.
She returned to Nepal a year after. Initially she gave scholarships to boys from an orphanage in Kathmandu and then gradually started branching out. She founded her organization in the year 1990. She spends six months of the year in Nepal.
“I am accustomed to my somewhat schizophrenic schedule of six months in Kathmandu and six months in Marin,” she explained. “Different countries, different friends, different climate, different everything. But I love both of my lives. When I first return, I am somewhat irritated by the lavishness of life in Marin, but after a couple of months I settle down and enjoy the 24-hour electricity, the clean water and the clean air.”
Being inducted to the Hall of Fame, Murray said, was wonderful. “I was thrilled because I believe that the contribution of women to making the world a better place should be recognized and this award does so. It feels good to be given an award in Marin for our work 8,000 miles away.
The Marin Women’s Hall of Fame was established in 1987 to honor the achievements made by women to enhance the wellbeing for citizens both locally and globally.
“Selection into the Marin Women’s Hall of Fame is highly competitive, and the annual induction showcases the talents, passions and contributions of extraordinary women. It is an inspiring event for women of all ages and the men who support us,” Winter said.
Read the full story here