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WAITING FOR MAMU: Little-known fact: Prabal Gurung has a gig on the side. About four years ago, he and his siblings founded Shikshya Foundation Nepal, an organization that provides education to underprivileged children in Nepal. That’s how he met Pushpa Basnet, a fellow Nepalese do-gooder who was being honored at a documentary screening at Neuehouse in Manhattan’s Flatiron District on Wednesday night. The short film, called “Waiting for Mamu” and based on Basnet’s humanitarianism, was directed by Thomas Morgan and executive produced by Susan Sarandon, who was a no-show at the laid-back affair.
Basnet, a 30-year-old social entrepreneur who was CNN’s Hero of the Year in 2012, founded Nepal’s Early Childhood Development Center and Butterfly Home, which looks after the children of incarcerated parents. (In some places in Nepal, if parents are sentenced to prison and their child lacks another guardian, the child lives behind bars with them until the age of 18.) Basnet’s foundation, now home to more than 40 children full-time, emancipates the innocent children by providing a place for them to live, eat, play, receive full medical care and enroll in local schools for a better life. The kids call Basnet “mamu,” hence the film’s title.
“I think more than my story we’re really talking about the children’s story,” Basnet said. “That was the most important thing. I have a very good team that are looking after the children right now….But I know all the kids are missing me.”
Guests were ushered into the screening room after a brief cocktail reception.
“It’s literally 30 minutes out of your time and it will change the way you think about life,” said Gurung. In his brief remarks to the intimate crowd, he explained what prompted him to start his Shikshya foundation.
“I was a little taken aback by the amount of attention that was coming my way, and I wanted to make sure that I transferred that attention to a cause and an issue that needed it more than I did,” he said. “So I called my siblings back home in Nepal and I said, let’s do something before all this attention goes away. Because while it’s good for making a reservation at a restaurant, I needed to put it to a better use.”