Five Sons and a Hundred Muri of Rice by Sharyn Steel and Zoe Dryden

Kharika and her grand daughter
Kharika and her granddaughter

As a five-year-old child in rural Nepal, Kharika Devkota struggles to come to terms with her arranged marriage. She confronted poverty, illiteracy, and a society that failed to recognise her most basic human rights, yet by ninety she had become a successful landowner, a micro-lender and beloved great-grandmother.

Told by Susan Wilson

Produced by Duncan Smith and engineered by Jeremy Veal

Five Sons book cover

Published by Paua Publishing

The story behind the book

Sharyn Steel and Zoe Dryden
Sharyn Steel and Zoe Dryden

Sharyn Steel is a writer/journalist, working currently at Radio New Zealand. Her daughter Zoe Dryden is a leadership coach who came across Kharika Devkota when she was teaching English as a volunteer in Nepal about 10 years ago. 

After becoming aware of corruption in aid organisations in Nepal, Zoe set up a volunteer organisation called Face Nepal, with her Nepalese host, Kharika's youngest child, Shreeram, at the end of her three-month assignment there.

Back in New Zealand, she set up a company called Second Base that takes corporate clients to Nepal for a mixture of personal development, aid work and tramping in the Himalayas. Zoe took three or four trips a year there with clients, up until two years ago when she had her daughter.

After returning from one trip, she told Sharyn about Kharika and in 2009, Sharyn went to Nepal for three weeks to interview Kharika, through an interpreter. Since then, they combined forces in writing this book, which was published late last year. It is available as an ebook and print book in bookshops, on where it has gained five-star reviews, Barnes and Noble, and Xlibris websites.