By Naresh Newar
Dhading, Nepal, 15 July 2015 – Rojina Chauhan can hardly contain her joy whenever she has a visitor for her infant Himal, who was born on the day the 7.8 earthquake devastated the country.
“They come here every day just to see him, hoping that he brings good luck to them,” the 17-year-old said.
Although named Himal by the family priest, he is more popularly known in his village by his nickname, ‘Bhukampa Bahadur,’ which literally means earthquake brave, the name written in the health register. Those close to him even call him ‘Bhukampey' for short.
Rojina also said that her son is a constant reminder to everyone about how there was also life, not only death, on 25 April, when the earthquake killed over 8,000 people across the nation.
The birth of Himal was the happiest event in a long time for the villagers in this beautiful hamlet of Nalang Patle, a remote and impoverished ward of Nalang Village Development Committee (VDC), nearly 100 kilometres west of Kathmandu.
“People have lost their homes and their lives have been severely affected, but to see him alive today makes everyone so happy,” said Ram Prasad Silwal, who heads the Nalang Health Post, where Himal was delivered.
He was the one who helped deliver Himal with support of his team and saved his mother Rojina as well. It was, however, a herculean task.
A brave rescue by a team of dedicated village health team
“The first thing I remember that day was being worried about my family, especially the safety of my children. But I also had a very important duty in front of me,” said Ram Prasad.
As the almost a minute-long deadly shaking began, Ram Prasad and his staff rushed to save Rojina who was inside the delivery room. They carried her in the open grassland area, far from any collapsing building.
The health team worked with Rojina even as they were shaken with extreme fear for their own safety as parts of the health post started crumbling down.
Fortunately, after four hours, when the strong aftershocks had subsided, they took Rojina inside and safely delivered Himal.
“I couldn’t believe that my daughter was alive and had given birth to a healthy baby boy,” said Rojina’s 35-year-old mother Maya. “I am so thankful to the health post staff.”
Maya had just reached home from the health post, where she had dropped off her expecting daughter when the shaking started.
She said she was too traumatised as she watched helplessly towards the direction of the health post, nearly an hour away from her house.
An underage mother
Maya had already lost her younger 14-year-old daughter a year ago. And now her only surviving child is Rojina, who was only 15 years old when she got married.
Feeling guilty but defensive as well, Maya explained that it was her extremely impoverished situation that led her to marry off her daughter with hopes she would have a better life after marriage.
The family barely survives with less than USD 30 a month. Their only source of income is any farm work that Maya and her husband can find. They are landless and live in a makeshift tiny hut with one bed shared by the whole family.
“I worry a lot about my son’s well-being as we have a very difficult life but it gives me a lot of relief to see him safe,” said Rojina, who often talks to her son telling him not to worry as she will save him if there is another earthquake.
Since the earthquake, UNICEF has provided a medical tent to the health post in Nalang to ensure continuous delivery of essential health services in the community.