On April 25, 2015, Nepal was hit by a violent earthquake. Hundreds of miles apart, Nirmala and Khendo were both buried under the rubble.
“I was at home with my family when I felt the earth shake,” says Nirmala, 10. “I tried to run like the others, but a wall fell on top of me. I don’t remember anything else. I woke up in hospital in Kathmandu without one of my legs. I was really frightened.”
Rushed to hospital, Nirmala and Khendo each had a leg amputated. The girls met shortly thereafter while attending physical therapy sessions with HI’s rehabilitation team.
Sudan Rimal, a Humanity & Inclusion physical therapist at USAID's STRIDE project says, “I met Nirmala and Khendo shortly after the earthquake. I massaged their stumps and taught them exercises to strengthen their leg muscles. They were fitted with artificial limbs and learned how to walk again. They come back to the center on a regular basis for check-ins. We need to adjust their prostheses every six months because they’re growing so fast. We’ve formed a strong relationship based on trust.”
Three years have passed and Nirmala and Khendo are almost never apart. Nirmala’s family has moved to Kathmandu where her father works in a textile factory. Khendo lives without her parents, who have moved back to Sindhupalchok district. During the school term, the two girls stay at boarding school.
“We sleep in the same room, in the same bed,” Khendo explains. “Whenever Nirmala cries, I cry. We do everything together. I haven’t seen my parents for a year. I really miss them. I love living in town and buying clothes in shops, but I want to see them again.”
Khendo enjoys science lessons at school. “We learn things about the human body and our lives. For example, it’s bad to smoke and to drink alcohol. When I grow up, I want to be a primary school teacher or a nurse and care for the injured.” Nirmala adds with a twinkle in her eye, “I want to be an actress. In fact, I already am in a way. I’ve already acted in a film! I want to be famous.”