Olga Murray lives half the year in Nepal. The other half, she lives in a spacious, wonderfully lived-in house in Sausalito, Calif. With its wide views of San Francisco Bay, the house makes one wonder why anyone would live anywhere else, even for a few months.
But since 1984, Ms. Murray has gone to Nepal every year but one. And in 1990 she started the nonprofit Nepal Youth Foundation, dedicated to educating children.
To date, NYF has educated more than 15,000 children, many of them girls brought out of bonded servitude. NYF has also established 16 small hospitals to restore malnourished children to health; founded two homes in Katmandu, Nepal, for destitute children; provided psychological counseling, empowerment classes, and vocational training; and successfully brought charges against abusers of bonded girls.
Last year, nearly three decades after she started her work in Nepal, Murray stepped down as president of NYF, replaced by Som Paneru, her longtime Nepalese partner.
Murray arrived in New York City at age 6, when her family emigrated from what is now Romania. After graduating from Columbia University in 1949, she landed a job with Drew Pearson, the famous Washington, D.C., muckraking newspaper columnist, answering his fan mail.
But that was a job, she says, not a career. At the same time she worked her way through The George Washington University Law School, graduating in 1954.