Coming Back To Life: Story of a Family's Resilience

3, Dec 2019

By Rojika

As we approach Mingma Tamang's temporary house, she greets us with a warm smile not less than a fresh sunshine. It would be difficult to imagine there could be any heartbreaking stories behind such a sincere smile, but reality was different. This is Mingma and her story.

Mingma lives with her two daughters; Aashma, 17 years old and Anjali, 16 years old, in a suburb community of Lalitpur called Hadigaun. Displaced after the 2015 earthquake, this family has been surviving in a temporary shelter made of bamboo scraps/tent since the last 4 years on a land taken on lease for a limited time period by the community. The natural earthquake looked very small to the big ordeals which shook the Tamang family afterwards.

Mingma, a patient of diabetes, went through a miscarriage and a still birth, leading to a hazardous health situation for herself. During the same time of this loss, they came to know that their father had re-married another woman as he wanted a son, a common practice rooting from the gender discrimination in Nepalese societies. Perhaps, Mingma was trying for a son too despite her health ailments. The father eventually separated from the family without any legal procedures as it happens in many Nepalese families to avoid the stigma associated with divorce. Mingma, facing loss of two infants and a husband now, took over the single responsibility to look after Anjali and Aashma without any means of support from anywhere. She tried her hands with vegetable vendor shop to earn some living for their small family. In the face of the struggles, life was still moving on and it seemed to have been stable, until another nightmare confronted the family. Mingma came to know that both her kidneys have failed, and she won't be able to work as a vendor anymore.

Since then, the family has been living under the most vulnerable situation with no source of assistance and income from anywhere. Mingma hasn't been able to afford proper medications required for her health condition struggling for her own life, leaving far apart the basic and educational needs for Anjali and Aashma. With a minimal assistance from a Catholic sisters' group recently, Anjali and Aashma started studying again in Kitini College, a collaborative partner of Chora Chori. However, as every day passes by, Mingma's condition has worsened putting both Anjali and Aashma in an extremely adverse situation.

Nevertheless, Mingma is an epitome of a strong woman, who despite all the difficult situations, has stood head strong to take care of her daughters. Anjali and Aashma are two daughters who are more mature than other kids of their age, and realizes their responsibility for their mother. Anjali is passionate about art, and her creativity is reflected from every corner of their small tent house. Her amateur art works, drawing and paintings hang on the walls as if to provide color to the faded black and white lives of theirs.

"I want to become a fashion designer, I love arts and drawings, designing things or playing with colors. In fact, all the things I learnt is just by seeing others doing it, I think I am a good learner." says Anjali who now have recently graduated from the vocational training program of basic tailoring run by Chora Chori. As most of the girls who come for tailoring are from marginalized community, Chora Chori provides a minimum stipend, lunch and a sewing machine at the end of the training.

Aashma, on the other hand, has only one wish which is to help her family overcome the economic difficulty in any way possible. "I don’t really know what I want to become in future. I can do anything which helps my family." says Aashma portraying the same resilience which her mother reflects. Aashma went to work as a labourer for a local hotel shop in the past which put her in risks of exploitation and abuse. Chora Chori has started the intervention with the Tamang family to help them solve their problems sustainably.

"I married when I was 14/15, I didn't know what I was getting into, and I tolerated my husband's behavior all these years due to society. But, now we are left alone, and I am worried about my daughters. All I wish now is that my daughters be educated, and have a good secured future unlike me. All my life went by balancing and negotiating with problems over problems, don’t want my girls to have the same fate."  Mingma shares with us her heartfelt feelings, as we assure to help her and the girls.