Nijita, is one of five siblings who live at the hostel in Batase. They were living alone in a neighbouring village, having been effectively abandoned by their parents, who had gone to Kathmandu in the hope of making a living. Nijita’s older sister was caring for the children as best she could, and the struggle to survive meant education was out of the question for them all. The youngest of the children was 4 years old.
When FHC was alerted to the situation, the children were brought to the hostel and enrolled in the school. They have been there now for almost two years (January, 2019). Nijita, who is 14 years old, is seeking a sponsor who will help with her hostel and schooling needs.
Nijita also has special needs due to a physical disability which impacts enormously on her mobility. From babyhood, she has had a dislocated hip. Now, she manages to limp short distances; otherwise, her older sister carries her. The 500m walk to and from school is gruelling for them both.
Nijita’s future looks brighter, however, since meeting Steve in September 2018. During a visit to Batase, Steve met Nijita, and was inspired to investigate what medical science might be able to offer her. With his generous advocacy and commitment to raise the necessary funds for Nijita’s surgery, Nijita may attain the most fundamental of human freedom: mobilty. This is Steve’s story:
This is a brief summary of my journey to Batase village where I met Nijita, a fourteen-year-old girl who was born with a dislocated hip.
I arrived in Batase on foot. After walking for six hours through a beautiful national park in Nepal, to a height of two thousand six hundred meters, we rested for the night. A three-hour hike next day brought us to Batase village.
I had no preconceived idea of what I would experience in Batase. On arriving, we were greeted by Som’s mother and father with a scarf and flowers. I felt quite emotional at this warm gesture of welcome.
That afternoon at 6pm, we were invited to visit the children’s hostel. We were noisily welcomed as we entered the hostel gates by forty six children from six to sixteen years of age, each with flowers to give to us. Again, I was so touched by the warmth of their greeting.
Then we went into the hostel building where each child stood in front of everybody and introduced themselves, telling a little story of where they were from and a little history of their life and what they did for the day. Now I had tears running down my cheeks. Luckily, I wear glasses and the light was not good. One little girl did not tell her story that night – she was just sitting at the back on a step.
Over the next few day I saw the same young girl finding it very difficult to move and nearly impossible to get around. I made a few inquires about what had happened to her and was informed she had a dislocated hip from birth.
Then one night the power was out which happens now and then in the hostel. The children were all running around with torches and my iPhone and go-pro camera. Nijita was sitting down on the step again so I sat down with her, while other children were running every where having a great time. Nijita asked me to take a photo of her which I did. Then a few minutes later, Nijita asked, “You make video of me?” I agreed. “Yes. What are you going to do?” Nijita replied, “I will sing for you.”
Nijita was self-conscious when I showed her the video and moved to a bench out side. After a few minutes I went out and sat down beside her to see if she was all right. She then asked for a pen and paper to draw, which is what a lot of the other children were also doing that night . Nijita completed a drawing, signed it and handed it to me. This was her way of thanking me.
I still have the drawing.
Over the ten days I stayed in Batase, I made more inquires about Nijita and how I might be able to help her. With the help of Som, we arranged for Nijita to be taken by 4WD to the hospital in Kathmandu. The drive from the hostel to Kathmandu is a six-hour drive over some of the bumpiest and most dangerous roads you will every travel on – especially at the tail end of the monsoon season.
We were at the hospital from 8.30m and did not leave until 7.30pm that night. During the day, a physiotherapist checked the muscle strength in her legs, MIR scans were taken, and neurologists tested for nerve damage and that messages were getting to the injured leg and hip. Doctors determined that an operation could fix her problem, achieving 80% – 90% normal function. I returned to Australia with copies of results to show to Australian doctors.
Communications with the hospital in Kathmandu stopped, for reasons I do not know. But through a doctor in Cairns, I made contact with a Brisbane doctor, who studied Najita’s medical records and confirmed that surgery could help her. He explained the procedure to me in simple terms and knows of a doctor in Nepal who could perform the surgery. I am now waiting for advice on how to proceed.
Meanwhile, at an FHC fundraiser, I was introduced to a local Cairns doctor who does voluntary work at hospitals in Nepal. Through him I made contact with a surgeon in Pokhara, who has seen Nijita’s files and would like to do more tests on her.
I will be leaving in February to go back to Nepal, hoping to meet the doctors who can help Nijita move forward towards a better, more independent life.
All of us at FHC are following Nijita’s journey with great interest and high hopes for her!
© Friends of Himalayan Children 2019