Honoree Spotlight

Olga Murray: Granting Wishes for Kids in Nepal

Olga Murray is one of those people who has led life to the fullest, and at 87 years old, she doesn’t plan on slowing down.

Originally from Transylvania, Olga grew up in the US and graduated from Columbia University. She went on to earn a law degree from George Washington University and became one of the country’s first female lawyers. It wasn’t easy; as soon as she graduated, she found that law firms were unwilling to hire a woman. However, that didn’t stop Olga; she turned instead to the California Supreme Court to become a research attorney.

On the Ground
Olga Murray – 2005 Humanitarian Award Winner

Impact to date:

Funded the education of 7,000 children; housed 203 disadvantaged children; and rescued 11,951 girls from slavery.


to offer hope and opportunity to Nepal’s most impoverished children by providing them what is every child’s birthright: vital healthcare, education and a safe environment.

Words of Wisdom:

“I knew that when I retired I didn’t want to sit around in Marin and paint my nails and play bridge.”

There, Olga helped research and write important decisions affecting civil rights, women’s rights and environmental policy. She retired 37 years later; however, she knew that leisurely spending her retirement at home didn’t suit her.

“I knew that when I retired I didn’t want to sit around in Marin and paint my nails and play bridge,” Olga said in an interview with the SF Gate.

She decided to take a trip to Nepal, where she was confronted with some of the world’s poorest children, many of whom were living on the streets. Shocked by their living conditions, Olga vowed to do something about it.

She returned again one year later and visited a boys’ orphanage in Kathmandu. The orphanage, called Paropakar, was crowded, noisy and located in one of the most polluted areas of the city. The boys living there had little space to play, and few opportunities to prepare for the day they turned 16 and would be forced to leave the orphanage. However, Olga saw that despite the challenges they faced, these boys were gifted and hungry for an education. She began offering college scholarships to 10th graders who could pass the college entrance exams. In the first year, five orphans from Paropakar passed their exams and received scholarships.

“I fell in love with Nepal,” Olga said in the SF Gate. “I met children who were so poor, dressed in rags with nothing to eat and no toys, yet they were cheerful. It was a magical thing to me, and all they wanted was to go to school.”

Her programs continued to grow each time Olga visited Nepal. During one trip, Olga was hiking through the mountains when she slipped and broke her leg. For the next eight days, she endured the pain as a tour guide carried her through the mountains and across rope bridges. Finally, they reached a hospital in Kathmandu. Here, once again, Olga met children who were disabled, abandoned and desperately ill. One young girl, though in pain from having her legs burned off below the knee, had one wish: to attend school. Before leaving, Olga gave the girl a $300 scholarship to complete her education. Within the year, Olga had provided funds for dozens of other orphaned and disabled Nepalese children.

“I’m a sucker for Nepali kids. They are just really wonderful,” said Olga in an interview with ABC. “They are grateful for what they have and they are full of fun and they are able to leave these horrible experiences behind them so quickly.”

Soon, Olga found herself spending half the year away from her home in Sausalito, CA in order to help more kids in Nepal. She developed the Nepal Youth Foundation (previously known as the Nepalese Youth Opportunity Foundation) to provide impoverished children not only with an education, but also housing, medical care and access to human rights.

In 2005, Olga received a World of Children Humanitarian Award for her extraordinary individual effect on the lives of thousands of children and their families. To date, the Nepal Youth Foundation has rescued 11,951 girls from slavery through the Indentured Daughters Program; provided life-saving treatment for over 144 children with HIV/AIDS; treated 8,443 malnourished children; provided housing and support for 203 disadvantaged children; and funded the education of over 7,000 youth.

Though Olga recently retired as the Board President of the Nepal Youth Foundation, she continues to be involved in the young lives she has positively impacted over the years. Santosh Basnet was one of the children that Olga rescued from the streets. He grew up in one of the Nepal Youth Foundation’s group homes and later received a scholarship to pursue his education. Recently, he earned his MBA from the Dominican University of California. Olga attended his graduation.

“You know those fairy tales where you have fairy godmothers?” asked Santosh in the ABC interview. “She’s just like that to me.”

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