“I was at home with my family when I felt the earth shake. I tried to run like the others but a wall fell on top of me. I don’t remember anything else. I woke up in hospital in Kathmandu without one of my legs. I was really frightened,” says Nirmala, 10.
“I met Nirmala and Khendo shortly after the earthquake,” explains Sudan Rimal, one of HI’s physiotherapists. “I massaged their stumps and taught them exercises to strengthen their leg muscles. They were fitted with a prosthesis and learned to walk again. They regularly come back to see me. We need to adjust their prostheses every six months because they’re growing so fast. We’ve formed a strong relationship based on trust.”
Three years on and Nirmala and Khendo are almost never apart. Nirmala’s family has moved to Kathmandu where her father works in a textile factory. Khendo lives without her parents, who have moved back to Sindhupalchok district.
During the school term, the two girls stay at boarding school. They are in Year 4. “We sleep in the same room, in the same bed. Whenever Nirmala cries, I cry. We do everything together. I haven’t seen my parents for a year. I really miss them. I love living in town and buying clothes in shops, but I want to see them again.”
Khendo enjoys science lessons at school: “We learn things about the human body and our lives. For example, it’s bad to smoke and to drink alcohol. Later, I want to be a primary school teacher or a nurse, to care for the injured”.
Nirmala adds with a twinkle in her eye: “I want to be an actress. In fact, I already am in a way. I’ve already acted in a film! I want to be famous.”
Special report: Nepal, three years after the earthquake