On 25th April 2015, the earth shook in Nepal. In Okhaldhunga district, Nirmala, a 7-year old girl, was trapped beneath a collapsed wall. At the same time, in the Sindhupalchok district, Khembro, also 7, was buried underneath the rubble of her house. The two girls were rushed to the Bir Trauma Center in Kathmandu and both had a leg amputated.
Sudan Rimal, an HI physical therapist, supported the girls from the very beginning when they were in hospital.
"I have been working with them since their accidents," he remembers. "I have delivered numerous rehabilitation sessions, first at the hospital where they stayed for three months, then at the National Fund, a rehabilitation center and partner of Handicap International. Six months after the disaster, they both received a prosthesis and learned to walk again."
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Their friendship is their strength
"They have made tremendous progress. The support they give to each other is incredible. Their friendship is their strength," says Sudan.
"Today, two years after the disaster, Nirmala and Khendo have grown up a lot. They still attend the rehabilitation center, approximately once a month. They do muscle stretching and exercises to improve their flexibility."
"Their artificial limb legs are adjusted every six months, to adapt to their growth. They are more aware of their bodies and of the importance of doing their rehabilitation exercises. They can tell me when and where they are in pain. They understand what they feel, at least in part."
"They encourage each other to do their exercises and make progress. They are amazing," he adds.
© Lucas Veuve/HI
Looking towards a bright future
The two girls' families stayed temporarily in Kathmandu following the earthquake, but Khendo’s parents have since returned to the countryside to work the fields. Khendo is looked after by a guardian. Nirmala's parents are still living in the capital. The two girls are now in their second year at school.
"We also train teachers so they know how to help children with their rehabilitation exercises. They are very keen to learn and asked a lot of questions," explains Sudan Rimal.
Nirmala and Khendo love English, badminton and playing hide-and-seek. When asked about the future, Nirmala answers with a gleam in her eye, that she dreams of becoming an actress. Khendo wants to be a teacher, "to help children become good people."