Uttam Sanjel is a social worker working in the field of education and health. He is the founder of Samata School and Samata Hospital. The Samata organization is currently providing its services at the mere cost of Rs.100. It has changed the education and health sector by making it more accessible to the poor. Thousands of students and hundreds of poor and sick people are being treated on a regular basis, which is a great achievement for a socio-entrepreneurial organization like Samata.
The Starting point
Uttam was a rebellious child by birth. He was not interested in his father’s job and wanted to do something different. He thought he had found that different when he started working in movies. However, he was inspired for change and started to work in the social sector. He knew the most important field to work in was education.
With the inspiration to change Nepal’s education sector Uttam started his first school in 2001. He didn’t have much money or experience in running a school. However, he knew how movies used bamboo to make a cheap movie set. He used the same locally available Bamboo to build his first school. He also got help from different people who believed in Uttam’s idea and worked for free.
Uttam once didn’t have the money to make his school out of concrete and made it out of Bamboo. Today, that same Bamboo has become a symbol for his brand and a symbol of hope for many poor people.
Uttam’s Rs 300 marriage
Uttam is now a married man with his marriage being successfully conducted with Rs 300. He says, “Life will give you different choices. Either to choose the right way or the popular way. I suggest everyone choose the right way. I could have spent lakhs on my marriage but I don’t see what that accomplished really. It’s good that we follow our religion but don’t follow the ridiculous standards that the society pushes on you.”
“Me and my wife Kala had seen hundreds of people from around Nepal come to Samata Hospital for a health check-up. However, they didn’t have the money to spend on medicine. We kept the budget of our marriage in our head and then reduced the budget to Rs.300. We then gave away the excess money to these patients.”, added Uttam.
The Growth and Present
With only one school the dream of bringing a revolution in the education sector of Nepal looked like a far-fetched idea. However, as the work started to shine and Uttam’s new efforts got highlighted by media houses he started to get support from other big names. Madan Krishna and Hari Bansha were the first to help. But as work started to grow and Uttam started to prove that his dream was capable of coming true more people started to join in. Dr. Upendra Mahato and many other people also got on with this excessively growing social trend. Uttam says, “As people are not able to bring change in the society alone; they are willing to help people who bring change in the society. Today more and more people join us and help us.” But Uttam also realized that schools weren’t enough. Nepal also had a crisis in the health sector. So, Uttam also started to work in the health sector by building the first Samata Hospital.
Now in 2075, there is Samata school in all 75 districts and Uttam is working to add more Samata Hospital. Today the Samata schools produce thousands of educated students every year and Samata school also provide service to more than 300 patients every day. Uttam Sanjel says that the price of the services won’t change till he is alive. With other education and health institutions charging upwards of 1 lakh every year Rs.100 feels like a dream amount to many people. The Samata Brand schools are now in 5 different countries in South-Asia.
Uttam Sanjel says ”Budhanilkantha is one of the famous in Nepal right now. However, it’s excessively expensive and can’t be accessed by all. I want to make Samata School as good as Budhanilkantha. For that, I need help from the Government of Nepal. We recognize the fact that the government might not want to invest in a private school or business. So for the sake of simplicity, I am willing to hand all my property over to the government if they so desire with a promise that they will make Samata a great educational hub.”
However, Uttam also fears that the school may not be as good and as reputed as the present time if it’s controlled by the government. He wishes to run the business in association with the government to ensure maximum success.
Message to youth
Uttam says, “There are always problems in the world but the best way to fight against them is positive thinking. You should be able to think positively then you will be able to become a winner.”
By: Saugat Pokharel