Outside Bharatapur, a southern crossroads town where Nepal’s east and west meet on the nation’s main highway, is a little farming village where compassion is a top commodity.
Seven years ago, two teenage boys decided they wanted to help Man Kumari, a woman in their village who crawled the dusty paths because burn injuries had taken away her ability to walk.
Years earlier, a kerosene lamp tipped over and engulfed the back of Man Kumari’s sari in flames, causing major burns to the back of her legs. Because she did not have access to proper treatment at the time of the injury, the wounds contracted behind her knees, leaving the one leg so permanently bent that she could no longer stand, much less walk.
Thankfully, the two teenage schoolboys in her village had heard on the radio that free surgery for burn victims was available in Kathmandu and wondered if the surgeons could help Man Kumari walk again. Their other question was how would they raise enough money to get her to Kathmandu, an hour walk and a four-hour bus ride away? The boys decided to ask their neighbors for help. They visited every house in the village asking for money, performing a song for every donation collected. They raised 1400 rupees, about a week’s wages.
With money raised for bus fare, the two boys carried Man Kumari to the bus, road to Kathmandu with her, and then carried her to the hospital. Dr. Shankar Man Rai, ReSurge International’s surgeon who performed the surgery, still remembers the day these teenagers carried Man Kumari up the stairs to ReSurge’s third floor clinic. He was impressed by their young, compassionate hearts and all they had done to help.
A few days later, Dr. Rai performed the first of her surgeries to straighten her leg, the first step in restoring her ability to walk. After a couple more surgeries and a month of physical therapy, Man Kumari could stand proud and walk again.
Man Kumari and Dr. Rai were recently reunited in a trip to her village. It was an emotional, joyful reunion. Man Kumari shared how she had given up hope prior to the surgery, but now she had a good, productive life again – surrounded by supportive and compassionate villagers who all came out of their homes to join the reunion. All of us were very thankful for the transformation and the rays of hope beaming from that small, Nepalese village.
Top and bottom photos by Darcy Padilla.