Caritas made my life blessed
Little Purna Tamang in Sindhupalchowk was left an orphan in 2015, when his father had a breakdown after the earthquake and hanged himself. His mother had left the family years before, when Purna was just 18 months old.
Finding protection with his grandmother Jamuna, five years old Purna survived the earthquake’s many aftershocks. But the months that followed continued to be a waking nightmare for this small
Tamang family. Grandmother and grandson had no home, and spent their days and nights under sheets of corrugated iron.
At the age of 64, Jamuna was too frail to carry out physical work; and the small piece of bare dry land which the family owns up in the high mountains fell out of use. Little Purna and his grandmother were left helpless. Meanwhile Caritas Nepal was at work in their village, building an earthquake-resistant “demo house”. The local village committee arranged with Caritas that Purna and Jamuna, the most vulnerable family in the area, should live in the demo house once it was completed.
“Caritas made my life blessed,” Jamuna muses. “What greater service could anyone have done for me, an abandoned old Tamangni [Tamang] villager?”
[The Tamangs are indigenous inhabitants of the Himalayan region, historically marginalised by mainstream Nepali society despite constituting 5.6% of the nation’s population.]
“Now we have a door to enter: a home for the two of us,” says Jamuna. “I could never have built this myself. I am very happy with Caritas Nepal. Caritas has really done good for us.” Caritas has so far constructed 12 demo houses over the course of the recovery programme, and handed them over to the poorest and most vulnerable families in their communities.
Young Purna is now enrolled in Grade One in a nearby school. “I am just like the setting sun: beyond the hills,” says Jamuna. “But my little one will now have a future, for sure.” She looks lovingly at her grandson. “Purna is a quiet boy, but he is a friend to me. He tells me a lot about his school, a little bit at a time. I am uneducated, but my boy is already able to write a few words.” Jamuna’s life is till by no means easy: she receives a small sum of money from the government as Old Age assistance, but still struggles to feed herself and her grandson. But she has hope that Purna may grow up to have a better life than it has been her own lot to experience.
“When he grows up, he may go out into the world to earn a living, and one day he may find his way back home,” she says fondly. “And if he comes back here, it will be thanks to this house.”