Newsletter Vol 01 No. 01
August 15 - Septembert 14, 2016

Mending Hearts
- Chaudhary Foundation

“Bereft of happiness I was last year, I healed myself with a consoling heart,

The same year bereft of love I was, I healed myself yet again with a consoling heart,

But this year bereft of heart I am, how will I heal now…howdo I heal now…”

This song by lyricist Rajendra Thapa and sung by Aruna Lama personifies the painful events of Kanchi Khatri’s life.

“Were I to share all of my story, I will not be able to complete it even in two whole days…,”
reminisced Kanchias she slowly stood up from the stool. The interviewers were already standing to bid farewell. Had Kanchi been someone faint-hearted, she would have already broken down in grief. To lighten the somber mood, the interviewer with a gentle sense of humor added, “Actually it would take you a good 38 years to finish your story!”
Kanchi is 38 years old. Taking the cue, with a wry smile she replied, “Yes, that’s correct. Anyway, please do drop by once in a while…”
Although sharing the ups and downs of her life had made Kanchislightly emotional, she had not forgotten her hospitality towards her guests.

Chaudhary Foundation, through its Post-Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Programme, built a transitional shelter for Kanchi Khatri and her family. Kanchi shared that she now feels great relief and security, “After all one’s own house is one’s own!”
Gesturing towards her son, “The night when my boy asked me what are we going to do because we did not have a home anymore, I remember crying so much in grief. However, now although resettlement is yet to be done, we at least have a house.”

Kanchi has taken great care in maintaining her transitional house; decorated and immaculately clean. She also runs a small handicraft business in her house. One can sense upon entering Kanchi’s new home, that only those who realize a dire necessity for something will truly appreciate and understand its importance. And it can clearly be seen that Kanchi and her family have not taken the shelter as relief per se, but have taken great care and love in making it a home. Thus, she expressed tremendous gratitude towards Chaudhary Foundation.

Kanchi grew up in a large family of six siblings. Her father was the sole breadwinner of the family, and her mother a homemaker. Her father’s income was just enough to make ends meet. While a student in grade seven, Kanchi decided to stop studying and instead take training on handicrafts.

“I don’t know what went through my mind when I made that decision, but I remember I felt a strong urge to earn my own money,” shared Kanchi with a shy smile.

When the interviewer queried whether her decision was triggered due to financial hardship, Kanchi countered, “We did not have problems regarding basic needs but I disliked not being able to spend as my heart’s desire. Once a year, my parents bought us one or two sets of clothes, but I always wanted more and new ones!”

After childhood, however, Kanchi’s journey was not a bed of roses. A resident of Matatirtha, Kathmandu, she fell in love and at the tender age of 18 married a young lad from a neighborhood village, Macchegaon. However, fate did not allow their union to last for more than eight years. He died an unexpected death. Kanchi did not only lose her partner but as soon as she was widowed, she also lost the love and support of her family and relatives.
“Had it not been for my two children…,” Kanchiwas unable to complete.

Her husband’s tragic and unexpected death, and the journey she had to undertake as sole caretaker of their young children, has been long and painful. No amount of words and feelings can justify her sense of loss. She not only lost a husband and companion but was left alone to raise her children, take care of all their basic needs and education, as well as teach them to become cultured social beings. Through every difficulty she came across, she had no choice but to move on. She had to live, and her many responsibilities, in a way, obligated her to live day by day. By selling her handicraft products, she financed her children’s education. Now, her daughter has successfully completed 3 years of nursing diploma course and her son has completed grade 12.

As she was embracing life one step at a time, trying to move on from the past for a bright future for her children, life hurled another tragedy. The 25 April, 2015 earthquake in Nepal destroyed lives and properties of hundreds of civilians engulfing not only the country but the world in shock and grief.

“Just when I was slowly trying to get back on my feet, the earthquake struck. I was shattered. I felt life had nothing for me but pain.”

Kanchi and her children slept under the open sky on the night of the earthquake. And the next many nights they lived in a tent. She never ceased to wonder how many of such disasters awaited her life. Her son questioned, “What are we to do now? We don’t have a house anymore…”

After one month, Kanchi rented a room in a neighbor’s flat. Although, this provided better shelter and security, deprived of a home to call her own, made Kanchi restless. She also lost the urge to create her handicraft products in a rented space. As she had no income, soon she began to worry about paying the rent.

Post-earthquake, Kanchi saw the frantic chaos of many organizations trying to provide relief aid to the earthquake-affected. The haphazard manner in which aid was distributed demotivated her to ask for help. Moreover, when she approached one organization for support, it turned her down on the pretext that she was not registered as a single woman.

“Looking at how source/force were being used in relief support, I lost all my faith. I felt despise towards anything to do with Relief.”

Later, when Chaudhary Foundation came to build transitional shelters for those affected like Kanchi, she felt her hope renewed, and eventually restored.

Now, when asked when she would build a permanent shelter, Kanchi pondered, “During such a time of crisis Chaudhary Foundation supported my family immediately solving our shelter problems. Regarding permanent shelter, I will have to take time and think properly on it…” And after a contemplative pause, “…My children are all grown up now, I think it’s time they play their part.”