From Nepal quake injury to acting dreams: Nirmala stands tall

c_Lucas-Veuve_Handicap-International__Khendo_on_the_left_sits_with_Nirmala_2.jpgNirmala (right) and her best friend Khendo share a secret in Kathmandu

Nirmala is an eight-year-old girl with sparkling eyes from Nepal's Okhaldhunga District. On April 25, 2015, she was visiting Kathmandu when the ground began to shake in the violent 7.8-magnitude earthquake that robbed more than 9,000 people of their lives, and injured more than 23,000—including Nirmala.

The quake's force flung Nirmala's body outside, where a wall collapsed on top of her. She was immediately taken to the Bir Hospital Trauma Center, where doctors amputated her right leg. Handicap International's rehabilitation team was on site, and began her rehabilitation sessions immediately.

A great friendship

At the hospital, Nirmala met Khendo, a little girl of the same age who had also had an amputation following the earthquake. Together, they did their physical therapy sessions and grew very close. As they grew stronger, doctors discharged them from the hospital and their sessions moved to the National Disabled Fund, which partners with Handicap International.

"In eight months, they have made great progress," says Sudan Rimal, a physical therapist for Handicap International. "Nirmala has shown enthusiasm and great will power. She gives Khendo confidence and never backs down from a challenge. They have a deep friendship and it is helping with the rehabilitation process."

In October, they each received a prosthesis, with the support of Handicap International donors. Today, they are standing tall, but still working to improve their walking.

For a few months now, they have been living temporarily in a basic apartment with their families in Kathmandu. Each day, a teacher comes to their homes to give them private lessons, with an aim to see the girls return to school in a few months.

A future in focus

Nirmala doesn’t want to go back to her village. As her mother points out: "Nirmala is the youngest of our four children. She is delicate. The region is too hilly. How would she get around? We only want one thing: we want her to be able to study and one day get a job that will give her an income to live on."

Nirmala has an idea of her own: "I’m going to be an actress!," she says cheerfully, with a proud look in her eyes.

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