“For years I watched dance programs on television but I always thought I'd never be able to dance myself,” says Reema, age 12. Reema was born with her foot attached to her knee, which made it impossible to walk without crutches. Her father died when she was young and her mother abandoned her at age six. A neighbor brought Reema to an orphanage in Kathmandu Valley.
At the orphanage, Reema was well cared for by a staff member she views as her mother. She thinks of the other children as her brothers and sisters.
Reema went to school, but not without difficulties. It was challenging to walk long distances with her crutches, and the other children stared at her. “I wasn’t happy and I had a very negative vision of the future,” says Reema.
Early 2013, she shared her story with a local journalist who wrote an article about her dream to become a dancer. A Handicap International staff member in Nepal saw the article and sent a community rehabilitation worker to bring Reema to the rehabilitation center for an examination.
Things progressed rapidly after that first meeting. Together with physical therapists and doctors, Reema chose to have doctors amputate part of her leg so that she would be able to wear prosthesis. After healing, Reema was given her new leg and physical therapy to teach her how to use it.
At the National Disabled Fund Rehabilitation Center in Kathmandu, Reema’s physical therapist Ashok has her perform tiring exercises to help her improve her balance and to keep her limbs strong and supple. Reema keeps smiling through the hard work.“I’m the luckiest girl in the world,” says Reema. “I can go to school without any problems, I look like my friends, I walk like my friends, and I dance like the stars."
Today Reema constantly practices her dance moves. “I practice every day, from early in the morning till late in the evening,” she says. “My brothers and sisters sing and make music while I dance. We have a lot of fun."
This summer, exactly one year after her amputation, Reema won second place in a dance competition. “Before, people stared at me because I was disabled, but now they look at me because I am a good dancer," says Reema.