Stories from the field: Jhamka Raj Bhatta & Devaki Bhatta
At our event, “A Night for Nepal” you were given a glimpse of several stories of the lives of villagers in Archale, Nepal where Shining Three Star Academy is. Saprinu volunteers, Biswas and Basanta interviewed these people, translated them into English, and produced these stories. Over the next few weeks, months, and hopefully years we intend to follow students and their families continuing to tell their story. These stories may be heartbreaking, but reality often is. Through the work of Saprinu and its supporters we hope to see a shift from hopelessness, to one of hope and prosperity. It is not just about education, it is about creating a sustainable community by which education is only the beginning.
This is the next story of villagers in Archale, Nepal and it belongs to Jhamka Raj, age 54 and Devaki Bhatta, age 47.
Jhamka Raj Bhatta: We have two sons and four daughters. Two of our daughters are already married. We have a family of ten, including grandchildren. We sent my eldest son to work in Dubai just after completing his high school as we had no income to support us and pay the school fees for our other children and grandchildren. We had to take Rs. 400,000 (around US$4500) in loans to send him abroad. He came back after two years but had only saved Rs. 200,000 (around US$2200-2300), which was enough to pay back only half of the loans. We still owe Rs. 200,000 to the debtors. He had to face hardships during his stay in Dubai and he came back very lean and thin due to the hard labor he had to endure. He told us that he could not take the work anymore. Now, to support our family and pay for the education of the children, I am working as a day laborer at a school in Satdobato, a nearby village. I am using half my salary to pay off the loan and the other half to support the family. I am also supporting my son who returned from Dubai and is studying at Kathmandu. I have to send him Rs. 8-10,000 (around US$90-120) every couple of months, for which I have to take further loans, increasing the overall loan burden. We hope that he studies well and gets a good job and pays off the loan that I am taking to educate him. We don’t want our sons to face hardships but due to our poor economic condition, we might be forced to send our youngest son abroad very soon. But, this time we would send him only if he gets a good job which involves less physical work.
We have some land to farm but it is not sufficient to feed my family, so we have to buy food. Two of our grandchildren study at Shining Three Star Academy. We could not send our sons to a good school as there wasn’t one in the village when they were growing up, and we could not afford to send them to schools outside the village. But we are very happy to send our grandchildren to the school. Our grandchildren are very good at studies and are very smart. My grandson wants to be a pilot. My granddaughter wants to be a doctor. I would be very happy even if she manages to become a nurse. I think they have set such good ambitions in life because of the quality of education they are getting now.
Our grandson is sick and has been diagnosed of having a hole in heart. His operation is scheduled for the first week of August. We are thankful to Sudan and Brooke for putting us in touch with Dr. Bhagwan Koirala, a top cardiologist in Nepal, for the operation. His life is in God’s hands. The doctor has asked us to manage Rs. 100,000 (around US$1200). We are planning to take a loan since my daughter and son-in-law cannot afford the amount.
Devaki Bhatta: I have no formal education. During my childhood, daughters were not sent to school and the school was far from where we lived. My father was ill and my mother was looking after the family, so she couldn’t afford to educate all her children. So, only my elder brother went to school. I don’t want to regret that I could not get an education, but I want my children to be well educated.