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Nirmala and Khendo, 2 years after the earthquake: They are inseparable


Victims of the earthquake that struck Nepal on April 25th, 2015, Nirmala and Khendo, both 10, had to be amputated. With the support of Handicap International, the two girls attended rehabilitation sessions and received prosthesis. Two years later, the girls make their way back to school.

© L. Veuve/Handicap International

Khendo & Nirmala, 10, were amputated after the earthquake which hit Nepal on the 25th of April 2015. | © L. Veuve/Handicap International

On April 25th, 2015, the earth trembles in Nepal. In the district of Okhaldhunga, Nirmala, a 7-year-old girl, finds herself stuck under a collapsed wall. At the same time, in the district of Sindhupalchok, Khendo, also 7, is buried under the ruins of her house. United by fate, the two girls are sent urgently to the Bir Trauma Center hospital in Kathmandu, and are amputated with one leg.

"I have been there since their accident. I conducted many rehabilitation sessions, first at the hospital, where they stayed for almost three months, and then at the National Disabled Fund, Handicap International's partner rehabilitation center. Six months after the accident, they received prosthesis and re-learned to walk. They have made tremendous progress. They support each other. Their friendship is their strength, "says Sudan Rimal, a physiotherapist for Handicap International.

Two years after the disaster, Nirmala and Khendo grew up. They still go to the rehabilitation center every month. They stretch their muscles and become more flexible.

"We adapt their prosthesis every six months, according to how much they grow. They become more aware of their bodies and the importance of rehabilitation exercises. They tell me when they are hurting, and where. […] They challenge each other to do the exercises, to progress. They are impressive, "explains Sudan Rimal.

The two girls now go to school and are in second grade. "Teachers have also been trained to teach rehabilitation exercises to children," says Sudan Rimal. Nirmala and Khendo love English, badminton and play hide and seek. And when we talk to them about the future, Nirmala replies, with shining eyes, that she dreams of becoming an actress. As for Khendo, she will be a teacher, "to help people become good person".

Handicap International in action

During the earthquake in Nepal, more than 8,000 people lost their lives and over 22,000 others were injured. Here’s Handicap International's involvement in figures:

  • 16,000 rehabilitation and psychosocial support sessions for more than 6,000 people. We have distributed more than 4,700 walkers, wheelchairs and crutches to people affected by the disaster.
  • 4,300 first aid kits and equipment to build roofs for more than 2,200 families.
  • 9,000 people received warm clothing, blankets, protective roofs, ropes and mattresses during the winter of 2015.
  • 5,400 tons of humanitarian material was stored by Handicap International and then transported to remote communities (more than 350 truck routes for 37 organizations).
  • 160 households received goats, enabling them to find a new source of income. Another 294 households received financial support enabling them to find new jobs.

Handicap International also made it possible for the most vulnerable to access humanitarian services (education, health care, etc.) from other organizations. Part of the work revolved around raising awareness among humanitarian workers about the importance of taking account of the most vulnerable.

Handicap International, always present!

Today, Handicap International supports five rehabilitation centers and hospitals enabling thousands of Nepalese to benefit from physiotherapy care and to be paired. The association offers financial support to victims of the earthquake helping them to find new livelihoods (raising goats, small shops, etc.) or new jobs, especially for people with disabilities.

Handicap International is also strengthening access to schools for disabled children. The association develops tools and teaching materials adapted to children with disabilities, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education. In addition, Handicap International is working with communities and local authorities to create contingency plans that take people with disabilities into account to improve emergency alert and evacuation systems.

Finally, Handicap International improves the protection, rights and living conditions of prisoners. The association prevents ill-treatment (including torture) and prevents long-term after-effects of imprisonment.

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