Voices from Nepal: Learning to Be a Child
In this latest blog post by the Coalition’s Collaborative Fellow in Nepal, Amul Thapa shares the story of Prayan*, a boy living in a displacement camp outside Kathmandu, whom the Hilton Prize Coalition Storytelling crew met during filming.
Seven-year-old Prayan has been bedridden since his birth. An eldest child, Prayan is not able to participate in playful activities like other children of his age, nor is he able to move on his own. Lying in bed for years, his body seemed like a concrete statue. Prayan has been taken care of by his grandmother in the Chuchepati displacement camp near Kathmandu, where they have been living since the massive earthquake struck on April 25th, 2015. His grandmother worked as a household labourer before the disaster forced them to the camp. These days, “I spend my time just taking care of him,” she says. Prayan’s parents have taken him to various hospitals with a hope of his recovery, but with no luck. Prayan was taken to different hospitals but was always far from physiotherapy.
(Prayan, pictured above, currently resides at Chuchepati displacement camp outside Kathmandu)
When we met Prayan while filming our documentary, we learned about the care he has been receiving through a collaboration between Handicap International and the National Disabled Fund (NDF) in Nepal. Manish Gupta, the senior Physiotherapist of NDF who has been helping Prayan with regular therapy sessions, describes first meeting Prayan. “When I entered the camp for the first time, I saw a small boy laying in the floor. The physical condition of the boy was very poor. The child was totally motionless.” Mr. Gupta conducted some therapy exercises for the boy and taught his mother and grandmother the process. “We have to be practical; it’s very difficult to take the boy to our therapy center every day, and it is not possible for me to be here each day. This is the reason why I taught his mother the fundamental processes of therapy.”
During a visit a few months after we met Prayan, we learned that since he has been receiving regular therapy, there has been much more improvement on his physical expression. Fingers that were folded for several years are unfolded now. Says his grandmother, “Prayan has started to show some gestures, he smiles when he is being called.” Along with that he moves his legs and fingers on his own. Handicap international and NDF have more plans for the child: they are preparing a special chair that will make it easier for him to sit, which also helps his therapy.
His grandmother and parents heartily thank Handicap International for their support. The family has a wish to see Prayan walking around on his own, playing and talking like other kids. “I hope the day will come when Prayan utters some words, calling me ‘Mum.’ That would be the best moment of my life,” imagines his mother.
(Handicap International Physiotherapist Manish Gupta works with Prayan during physical therapy sessions)
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 April 2015 earthquake and aftershocks.
*Name has been changed to protect privacy.