Nirmala Pariyar’s 2nd life

Nirmala Pariyar was seven and studying in Grade 2 in Okhaldhunga when she decided to accompany her mother to visit her father, Prem Bahadur Pariyar, who worked in a garment factory in Kathmandu. What was supposed to be a joyful holiday reunion turned into a traumatic event that turned her young life upside down.

Nirmala arrived in Kathmandu on 22 April 2015, and was supposed to take a bus back to Okhaldhunga on 26 April. She had gone to a friend’s house on the 25th and was watching tv when, just before noon, the house started shaking. She rushed out with two friends, but a brick wall collapsed on them.

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Passersby rescued two of her bruised friends right away, but did not see Nirmala under the rubble. Someone finally spotted the girl, pulled her out and rushed her to TU Teaching Hospital in Maharjganj, which was teeming with injured survivors. Her right leg had been so smashed that the hospital referred her to the Trauma Centre, where doctors decided to amputate her leg while she was still unconscious.

Nirmala’s parents reached the hospital, and were at her side when she finally regained consciousness four days later. The girl did not realise she had lost her leg, but when she saw her bandaged stub she fainted again.

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After four months at the hospital, Nirmala moved to a guest house in Sundhara, paid for by a charity that also helped her with an artificial leg. “It was really difficult to get used to the new leg, and it was painful,” Nirmala, now 11, recalls. “But now I can move around without a crutch or wheelchair. I can still play but only badminton and table tennis.”

Despite her trauma, Nirmala is upbeat, self-confident and full of hope for the future. She is a fan of Nepali actress Rekha Thapa, and says she wants to be a heroine like her. “I want to take dance classes despite my leg, but cannot afford it,” she says wistfully.

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Although he got help from charities, Prem Bahadur has already spent Rs260,000 on his daughter’s treatment, raising cash by selling some of his farm in Okhaldhunga. The government has promised to bear the cost of treatment of those wounded in the earthquake, but the family did not get any of that support. Her father says he was so preoccupied with saving his daughter’s life that he did not keep the bills.

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