Voices from Nepal: A Brighter Future
Amul Thapa is a Hilton Prize Coalition Collaborative Fellow working in Nepal, where he is also a photojournalist with Naya Patrika Daily. An alumnus of Coalition member organization SOS Children’s Village Kavre, he was a creative partner in the Hilton Prize Coalition Storytelling Program in Nepal, supporting Steve Connors, the Director, as a photographer, travel liaison and assistant during filming. Under the Hilton Prize Coalition Fellows Program, Amul is extending his role by continuing to connect Coalition members in country. As a shared resource to these collaborating organizations, he is also following up on the stories captured in the film of staff and community members who were impacted by the 2015 earthquake and aftershocks.
In this blog post, Amul shares the story of Sushmita Thapa, a girl living in a displacement camp outside Kathmandu, whom the crew met during filming.
A Brighter Future
by Amul Thapa
Sushmita Thapa is a fifteen-year-old girl originally from the Sindupalchowk District, currently living at Chuchepati displacement camp along with her family. Sushmita, the eldest of three children, lost her eyesight four years ago because of meningitis. Her father, Nati Babu Thapa, worried about the future of his daughter. “Like every parent, we wanted to see our child being independent in life,” he said. “We will always be behind her. But what will be her future after we become old?”
On a typical day in the camp, Sushmita’s parents leave for work early in the morning, before six am. Sushmita remains in the camp to take care of her siblings along with her grandmother. She prepares meals for her brother and sister and gets them ready for school. After she lost her eyesight, she continued to keep busy with household chores and learned to adjust.
Unfortunately, she herself is unable to attend school. Sushmita has a wish to go back to school to continue her studies and someday be a teacher. “I have a belief that one day I will see the world once again and I will be standing in front of my students.”
(Sushmita Thapa, left, helping her grandmother in Cuchepati displacement camp)
These days Sushmita is optimistic for her future. We were able to sit with Sushmita during a visit from Mr. Rabin Nepali, Project Director of SOS Children’s Village Jorpati. During this visit, Mr. Nepali provided Sushmita with a concrete slate set (used as a tool to write Braille) as well as a white stick and other materials for her studies. He showed her how to manage the slate and paper. When she asked how he knew how to fit the paper to the slate, Mr. Nepali replied with a smile, “I have many friends and know children like you. I have been working with them.” At that moment Sushmita seemed to be reborn. “You have provided me the most precious gift for my life, I will take good care of it,” said Sushmita. “I can start writing again.”
Mr. Nepali had also shared her story with the Nepal Association of the Blind. They came up with the idea for her to use a laptop with special software for her studies that would enable her to join school. Mr. Nepali says, “Soon we will talk with more schools and arrange for her to be back to school.”
SOS will also be helping Sushmita with medical treatments, for which her parents are also thankful. Said Sushmita’s father, “I have heard about SOS, but I didn’t know they support families like us as well. They have given rebirth to my child.”
Sushmita is full of dreams now. Her face shines while she works with the slate and shows that she is making steps towards her bright future.
(Sushmita Thapa with Mr. Rabin Nepali, Project Director of SOS Children’s Village Jorpati)