Shrinkhala Khatiwada is on a whirlwind tour: to the remote village of Bharta in Makwanpur where she is building a health post, on to London for a fundraising dinner, and stopping over in Kathmandu en route to China.
Nepali Times caught up with her to find out what Miss Nepal 2018 has been up to since her coronation in April.
The reason Khatiwada is into post-earthquake reconstruction is because she is also an award-winning architecture student. She wants to complete a health post in the Chepang village of Bharta before the Miss World pageant in November as her entry for the subtitle ‘Beauty with a Purpose’.
“I have always been passionate about architecture, and the earthquake opened up a huge need for architects. While we rebuild, we have to take care to preserve our traditional architecture and make sure the cities are well planned,” says Khatiwada.
She expands on the concept of healing by design: how a well ventilated hospital room makes a patient feels better. The Makwanpur health post is a learning experience, as she finds out the nitty-gritty of transforming this concept into reality. She had initially hoped to finish construction for Dasain, but the cost has doubled because the site is so remote that it is expensive to transport construction materials there.
So, she is busy with fundraising dinners and approaching corporates, while the costs keep going up. Now, she is helping build a road to the village which had none. The village is now accessible, but the monsoon has delayed work. The foundation for building has finally being laid, and Khatiwada hopes to complete it soon and hold a health camp before the Miss World pageant.
“A health post is for treatment, but prevention of diseases is just as important,” explains Khatiwada, who herself spoke to villagers about basic hygiene like hand washing, showering, and building latrines. The village has a high level of malnutrition among children, complications from early marriages and rampant superstition.
At present, villagers have to walk for two hours to reach the nearest health post, and Khatiwada knows there are many villages which are as much in need as this one.
“This is just the beginning of my work in philanthropy and architecture. Eventually I want to use my fame to build more of what Nepal needs, whether it is health posts in remote areas, or schools and homes in disaster zones,” she adds.
After her year as Miss Nepal ends, Khatiwada plans to focus on philanthropic architecture through her One Home Foundation. This is actually what attracted her to Miss Nepal, to use the celebrityhood for a good cause, not necessarily its glamour.
“This is a platform where you get famous overnight, and then it is up to you how you use that fame,” she explains. “I want to use it to become a change maker. In fact, the whole reason I am excited about participating in the Miss World pageant is so I can make global contacts to help me continue my work in architecture.”
Nepal has never won the Miss World title, though Ishani Shrestha bagged the Beauty with a Purpose title in 2013. This year, all eyes are on the competent and confident Shrinkhala Khatiwada, and Nepal will be cheering her on.
By Sewa Bhattarai in Nepali Times weekly – September 28 2018