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Sapana Read by Geetha Murali

Sapana grew up in a remote part of Nepal, where is was hard to get medical help. But after her family faced a terrible tragedy, Sapana decided that she was going to learn how to heal people with her very own hands.

This podcast is a production of Rebel Girls. It’s based on the book series Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls. This story was produced and directed by Joy Smith, with sound design and mixing by Reel audiobooks. It was written by Room to Read and edited by Abby Sher. Narration by the CEO of Room to Read, Geetha Murali. Original theme music was composed and performed by Elettra Bargiacchi. Thank you to the whole Rebel Girls team who make this podcast possible. Stay rebel!


There once was a little girl named Sapana who was staring at her palms. She was imagining beams of light radiating out from her skin, spreading over her family, her home, her village. You see Rebels, there was so much sadness all around Sapana. She felt like if she only knew


how, she could use these hands to help heal people. And though it would take a long time, that’s exactly what she did.
I’m Geetha Murali. And this is Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls. 

A fairy tale podcast about the rebel women who inspire us. 

On this episode, Sapana, a young changemaker and nurse who is helping this world get stronger and healthier every day. 

Sapana was born in a remote part of Nepal, deep in the jungle. She loved the towering trees and lush mountains nearby, but growing up there was difficult. Her family often struggled to feed themselves, and they were far away from a lot of resources. Traditionally, girls from this region didn’t


go to school, but Sapana thought it was very important for her to get an education. It took a lot of convincing, since her family could barely afford food, let alone books. But she did get her parents to agree. And once Sapana was in the classroom, she felt like her whole world expanded. Life was full of new ideas and possibilities. She had so many hopes and dreams for her future.
Then, Sapana’s younger sister got very sick. The whole family was turned upside down. Sapana wished she knew how to help her sister, especially because they lived hours from the nearest hospital. Their grandfather performed a traditional healing ceremony, but her sister just kept getting sicker. By the time they set out on the long walk to the clinic, it was too late. Sapana’s sister didn’t make it. As Sapana wept for her, one thing became clear. No matter what, Sapana wanted to live the rest of her life healing people.


No one in Sapana’s family had graduated from high school, but they supported her dream, even if paying her school fees meant they had to sometimes go hungry. Luckily, Sapana was able to find support through Room to Read’s Girls’ Education Program. The organization provided Sapana with a mentor and life skills that helped her believe she could become the nurse she always dreamed of being. All that was left was to study. 

Every day, Sapana walked four hours to get to school. She wouldn’t let anything stop her. Not the monsoons that flooded the rivers and roads. Not the bridge as it got washed away, or even the rain that left her drenched when she arrived at school. Sometimes, it was so cold or harsh outside, that she slept overnight in her classroom. Sapana was determined to graduate and become a nurse.


It was not an easy road for Sapana. When she took the entrance exam for nursing school, she wasn’t accepted.


Sapana was very upset. It felt like all of her studying and sacrifice didn’t amount to anything. She thought of her all-time hero, Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, who fought for the rights of patients without ever giving up. Sapana wanted to have that same courage and persistence, but how? 

She took some time to be sad and angry, and then she got back to work. She pulled out her books and started reading and studying again. 

She needed to be her own hero now!

Sapana prepared for months and retook the exam. She stood at the window outside the college admission’s office, waiting patiently for the results to be posted. Finally, there it was. As she scanned the list of students’ names who had passed, she saw in big, black, all-cap letters: SAPANA!


Today, as a nurse working on the front lines of Covid, Sapana feels very proud of how far she’s come. She also knows there’s so much more to do. Every time she thinks of her sister, she remembers how many people are in need of healing. And every time she looks at her hands, Sapana knows she can be the one to help.