During Dashain and Tihar season in Nepal, some of the Adara children got an opportunity to see their parents in person for the first time in a long time. Since we first gained custody of the children they have been telling us stories about their families and communities in Humla. So when it came time to bring them back for a visit, it was touching to actually see them interact and enjoy their loved one’s company.
Born into a family of six sisters, Rupsi Bhandari is the second oldest daughter. Rupsi was born in Humla, in a family stricken with poverty and hardships. Eight years ago, during a rough time, her family made the difficult decision to send Rupsi to Kathmandu, thinking this would keep her safe from the raging war in Humla and help her to get an education. Sadly, the people Rupsi’s family trusted to take care of her were actually traffickers. Rupsi had just turned three years old when she was taken and isolated from her family and friends. She is now 11 years old.
After being taken by the traffickers, Rupsi was brought to Thankot, Kathmandu where for a few years she experienced a miserable existence. She was kept in deplorable conditions with minimal food, clothes and medicines. Adara found her, along with many other Humli children, and rescued them from these terrible traffickers. Adara set up 10 different homes for the children in Kathmandu with the hope of restoring their lost childhood.
Rupsi has loved living in her Adara home with the other Adara children. However, she has always felt that something was missing, and as she has gotten older that feeling has grown. One of the Home Parents looking after Rupsi recently said, “She came to me and expressed a desire to see her parents in Humla this year. She was missing them so much.” Rupsi also felt sad when her friends told stories about their family and friends in Humla because she could hardly remember her own family because she had been away for so long.
In September 2011, the Adara team was finally able to schedule a visit for Rupsi to go see her family. When she was told she was going, one of her Home Parents said, “She screamed with excitement when she heard the good news.” Rupsi packed a bag with a big smile on her face and soon started her journey to Humla. With Adara staff, she travelled by bus and on an aeroplane and finally reached Simikot, where one of the Adara offices is located. She was so excited to see her family but it was heart breaking when we realised she didn’t recognise her father who was waiting to meet her at the airport, which is a true testament to how long she had really been away. She looked at him blankly for quite some time before her uncle introduced him as her father. She bowed down to pay respect to the person whom she had missed so much when she was in Kathmandu.
After some food and rest in Simikot everyone headed towards Rupsi’s village down the hill. The chirping of birds and the soothing sound of river Karnali kept her entertained throughout her walk. After a long hike, almost six hours of walking, they reached their destination. It was already dark and all she could see were the dim lights from the burning stoves blinking throughout the village and she could only hear the sounds of dogs barking.
When she reached her home she could see little children and a woman inside. She couldn’t recognise any of them but in fact they were her sisters and her mother. “I cried out when I held them tight in my arms,” Rupsi said. Her mother took her to the kitchen to make her warm near the crackling fire. She was amazed when she saw two new family faces, her new sisters. “They were not born when I was at home so long ago but those two new faces looked like me,” added Rupsi.
She had a very good time talking with family and friends in her village. She was happy spending time helping her mother with the household chores and going out to graze cattle with her sisters during the day. Then at night she would tell stories of her life in Kathmandu.
After having returned to Kathmandu from her village, she finally feels like she actually knows her family. She told her Home Parents stories of her family; how her father sells butter, alcohol and food in the village, her mother is a housewife, they have five daughters (other than Rupsi) and they own five ox and a donkey.
The visit has no doubt changed Rupsi. These days she feels included when friends from school share tales of their home land. She feels incredibly thankful to Adara for having given her a chance to see her family and friends in Humla this year. There is hope that one day she will resettle again with her family in the area she once called home.