Olga Murray, Founder of Nepal Youth Foundation
Olga Murray is a retired lawyer and the founder and president of Nepal Youth Foundation.
Born in 1925 in Transylvania, Olga Murray, who is of Jewish background, moved to the U.S. as a six-year-old. She graduated with honors from Columbia University and received her law degree from George Washington University in 1954. She had worked her way through school by researching and writing for famed muckraking columnist Drew Pearson. Although there were very few women lawyers at that time and most law firms would only hire a female lawyer as a secretary, Murray was offered the first job for which she applied – as a staff attorney to the Chief Justice of California, Phil Gibson. When Gibson retired, Murray joined the law staff of the new Justice Stanley Mosk. She worked for the State Supreme Court until her retirement in 1992. During her 37-year tenure at the Court, Murray helped to write decisions in the areas of civil rights, children’s issues, women’s rights, and environmental policy.
Olga Murray first visited Nepal in 1984. After seeing the terribly impoverished condition of the children in the villages, she resolved that she would return to help them. On another trip to Nepal in 1987, Murray broke her ankle. Upon returning to Kathmandu, she was treated by a young doctor who had just opened a small hospital for poor, very disabled children; where all care was free and of a high standard. Through this connection, she began giving scholarships to disabled children who had no way of getting to school in their villages and who needed to come to Kathmandu for boarding school. As the number of scholarships grew, she decided to start a foundation that would help these kids in an organised way.
In 1990, she founded the Nepalese Youth Opportunity Foundation (NYOF), a nonprofit organisation registered in the United States, to provide the most impoverished children of Nepal with education, housing, medical care and human rights. The organisation later changed its name to Nepal Youth Foundation (NYF).
Olga Murray, aged 95 now still is involved with the charity. When she can, she spends half of each year in Nepal, and the remainder at her home in Sausalito, California and she is still involved with raising funds for NYF’s programs.
Olga Murray has been honored with several awards for the Nepal Youth Foundation’s accomplishments. In 2001, the Dalai Lama gave her the Unsung Heroes of Compassion Award. In 2002, she received a medal from the King of Nepal to honour her work with the children of Nepal. Murray was honored by the World of Children as a 2005 finalist. The Nepal Youth Foundation was a finalist in the 2005 GlobalGiving Marketplace on Borderless Giving. Also in 2005, NYF was awarded the California Association of Nonprofits’ Award of Excellence for its innovative Indentured Daughters Program. In 2006, Murray won the grand prize for the Mannington ‘Stand on a Better World’ Award.
Olga Murray’s achievements with the Nepal Youth Foundation have been featured repeatedly in the media, including appearances on PBS’s NOW programme, on ABC World News, and in the San Francisco Chronicle. Additionally, Murray and NYF were profiled on ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’ on May 9, 2002. This special ‘Children of the World’ programme also featured Nelson Mandela. This programme focused on Nepal Youth Foundation’s Indentured Daughters Programme, which uses a piglet to rescue a girl from bonded servitude.