OLGA MURRAY

Founder, NYF
TEDx Speaker
Vienna 2015

Olga Murray, known as “Olga Mom” to thousands of Nepali children, is the founder and honorary president of Nepal Youth Foundation. Olga Murray is living proof that getting older doesn’t mean slowing down. Born in 1925 in Transylvania, Olga came with her parents and siblings to the U.S. when she was six year old. After graduation from Columbia University, she earned a law degree from George Washington University, where she was one of a handful of female students. Olga worked her way through law school as a researcher and writer for famed muckraking columnist Drew Pearson. With her law degree in hand, she found that few law firms would hire a woman. So Olga knocked on the door of the California Supreme Court, where she became a research attorney for Chief Justice Phil Gibson. When he retired, Olga joined the law staff of the newly-appointed Justice Stanley Mosk. During her 37-year tenure at the Court, Olga helped to write important decisions in the areas of civil rights, women’s rights, and environmental policy. She retired from the law in 1992 to launch yet another career—helping impoverished children in Nepal. Olga spends half the year in Sausalito, California, raising funds for NYF, and the other six months in Nepal overseeing NYF projects.

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 in 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 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 organized way. In 1990, she founded what is now Nepal Youth Foundation, a nonprofit organization registered in the United States, to provide the most impoverished children of Nepal with education, housing, medical care, and human rights.

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 honor 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 program, 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" program also featured Nelson Mandela. She was invited to give a TED Talk on living joyfully and vibrantly at any age, at TedxVienna on November 18, 2015.

 

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