Narbada Chettri is a young, energetic female social activist from Nepal. Chettri is a single mother who transformed her struggle into opportunity. She was born in kathmandu, Nepal. Then she finished her school life in Darjeeling, India. In school, she would often participate in school debates, even winning the award of Best Speaker.
She now resides in Woodside, Queens, with her daughter. She works as a director and organizer for advocacy at the Aadhikaar Organization.
Chettri was greatly influenced in thinking and action by Indira Gandhi, Florence Nightingale, Sister Nirmala, Nelson Mandela, and Ram Krishna Sharma.
After many years of hard work and selfless public service, she has become a great role model and advocate for women’s empowerment. She is an exemplary woman for our society. Always ready to help people, she is ready to give her time and care, day or night, sunny or rainy.
People often call her Narbada Didi, which means respected as a Narbada sister.
In her married life, Chettri’s husband cheated on her badly. He had a secret relationship with another girl. When she discovered his infidelity, she stood up for herself and left him, taking her daughter with her. She chose a hard life as a single mom over submitting to an unworthy and disloyal man.
Chettri is also an immigrant to the USA. She faced so many problems at the beginning. She didn’t know where to go or what to do. After that she felt determined to help other immigrants transition to life in the United States more easily. That is why she joined Adhikaar.
Now, Narbada Chettri reflects on those two events as the turning points that led her into her life in social work. In Nepal there are so many women who suffer from domestic violence. “I decided to work for them,” she says. She began to advocate for women on top of her work as a school teacher, using her own personal suffering as motivation to free these women from their terrible marriages. She also advocates for fellow Nepali immigrants.
Narbada finds great self-satisfaction in her social work. Her organization, Adhikaar, is a place where people can find free language classes, free job training, and advocacy and help in times of need. Her organization fights for the people who are really in trouble. Even though she was by herself, she helped so many people living in the street. Adhikar helped them find homes and gain US citizenship through free classes.
Since its establishment in 2005, Adhikaar has been strongly committed to improving the lives of the Nepali-speaking community and getting Nepali voices heard in the social justice movement. When Chettri came to the US, she saw how Nepali people suffered with few rights and no voice, and she became determined to help them get jobs, English classes, and other rights. Many of the people Adhikaar advocates for are women with no English skills. Some of these women have even escaped domestic violence and abusive marriages.
She leads the workers’ rights program at Adhikaar, advocating for the rights of the community and assisting workers by providing access to multiple services. Chettri led Adhikaar in successfully campaigning for the New York State Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, and currently represents Adhikaar on the National Domestic Workers Alliance board of directors. She played a leading role in advocating for legislation that will greatly increase nail salon worker safety, which is a major issue in New York City.
She has completed the 2012-13 Union Leadership Institute at Cornell University and the 2014 Coro Immigrant Leadership Program. Prior to coming to the U.S. in 2006, Narbada worked as a human rights activist in Nepal. She joined Adhikaar in 2007. In 2012, Narbada Chettri won the prestigious Immigrant Heritage Award 2012. She was awarded by the New York District council member Daniel Drome.
She has a dream for Adhikaar to one day have its own building. She feels a personal building will allow more room for all the people that Adhikaar assists and the various classes and workshops held there.
When asked what got Chettri into social work, she simply smiled and replied, “Just self-satisfaction. I’m happy to be the voice for the voiceless.”