Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 24th 2015 Contents A41
May 24, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
Sometimes, life takes twists so for-
tuitous that they seem inevitably pre-
determined. That may be the case for
Maya Gurung, a ten-year-old girl suf-
fering in post-earthquake Nepal.
Maya lost her lower left leg in the
April 25 quake and suddenly, her already
hardscrabble life became that much
harder. She was a poor girl living on
the unforgiving Himalayan terrain.
Without a limb, her life took an omi-
Maya and her father, Bhim Bahadur
Gurung, had held high hopes that the
doctors who treated her at a Kathmandu
hospital would fit her for a prosthetic
leg. But the hospital was overwhelmed
after the earthquake. Maya would have
to wait for many months, the doctors
told her father.
Without money, Gurung plucked his
crippled daughter from the hospital,
put her on his back and began a long
and arduous journey home to Kasi
Gaon, their village in Gorkha District.
Maya might have made it home to
a wrecked village where few houses
stood unscathed. She might have lived
out her life as a burden to parents who
struggle to feed and house their family.
She might have suffered rejection as
her father worried, and grown into a
woman who no man would marry. But
on the afternoon of May 12, what might
have been changed. A second earth-
quake rocked the Himalayas, and Maya s
life trajectory took yet another turn.
A chance encounter
Maya and her father had reached the
village of Rumchet on the day of the
second earthquake. There, they were
spotted by Jwalant Gurung, a University
of Washington graduate and a Nepalese
climber with a purpose.
For his MBA project in 2006, Gurung
organised a fund-raising climb of Mount
Rainier to further rural education in
Nepal. He s been doing it ever since
through his charity, 3 Summits for
Nepal, which has raised $200,000 and
built six schools.
Gurung was in Nepal during the April
25 earthquake and immediately flung
himself headlong into relief operations.
When he spotted Maya trekking
home on her father s back, he knew he
could help. He asked whether he could
take father and daughter back to Kath-
mandu. "I assured Maya s father that
I would take care of her," Gurung said.
"I told them I had a friend who was
His friend, Bibek Banskota, is no
ordinary doctor. Banskota s father,
Ashok, is an orthopedic surgeon who
returned home many years ago from
America to treat underprivileged chil-
dren living in Nepal s remote villages.
Children like Maya.
He opened the non-profit Hospital
and Rehabilitation Center for Disabled
Children in 1986, and has helped thou-
sands of children suffering from cleft
foot, tuberculosis of the spine and other
crippling ailments. The hospital spe-
cialised in pediatric orthopedics for
Bibek followed his father s calling
and he, too, became an orthopedic sur-
Gurung knew the Banskotas would
be able to fit Maya with a prosthetic
leg.The scenario played out like a heav-
enly dream after weeks of nightmares
for Bhim Bahadur Gurung. Maybe now,
his daughter would have a chance at
some sort of normalcy.
A lucky intervention
Dr Banksota said Maya was lucky to
have had a below-the-knee amputation.
Her maneuverability would have been
severely hampered otherwise.
"The operation was performed very
well," he said. "But the stump is still
Banskota had just measured Maya s
leg in order to fit her for a prosthetic
one. But she would have to wait a few
weeks before she was ready.
"Most of these kids in rural Nepal
have extremely hard lives," he said.
"A lot of things we take for granted,
they don t have. I am always amazed
at how resilient these kids are."
He said he drew inspiration from
Maya s smile. He could see she was
happier in the hospital, surrounded by
other children, some of whom are also
"It must give her some comfort to
see that she is not the only one," he
Outside Banskota s hospital, rows of
tents house earthquake victims still
needing care; doctors have been working
around the clock since April 25. Maya
was in capable hands. Thanks to the
kindness of strangers, she has hope.
Hope for Maya
...quake gives girl amazing second chance
Dr Bibek Banksota agreed to treat Maya at the hospital founded by his father.
The hospital provides medical care for impoverished children in Nepal.
Jwalant Gurung, left, ran into Maya and her father and brought them back to Kathmandu for care. At right is
Maya's mother and sister.
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