In February 2002, I went to a small village in Nepal to see about a girl who was reported as homeless. After finding her it was clear she was very sick and malnourished. Her name was Ishwori, and it was Ishwori’s desperate situation that started me down this path of helping children in Nepal. Returning from the village with Ishwori, I wrote this email to my friend Nancy in St. Louis, Missouri, who became the first Mitrata child sponsor.
Congratulations! You now have a new daughter! Her name is Ishwori K. We are not sure how old she is. She looks about seven years old. She has never been to school. She has been severely poor and neglected. She was wearing no shoes or underwear. She is coughing and very skinny, so we will take her to the clinic on Monday. I bought her clothes and we are getting her hair cut because she has lice.
When we were walking down the hill behind Ishwori on the way to the main road, I kept looking at her bare feet and tiny thin bony shoulders. She is so shy and sad; yet there is strength in her that she has even survived this long. She has the most beautiful long eyelashes.
We had an even more interesting time on the road back. It is very winding and through the mountains. She had never been in a car before so she promptly threw up all over. I think the taxi driver was wishing he had never seen this crazy American woman and her Nepali friend! Poor Ishwori! But now she smiled when she got a hot bath and we bought her warm clothes and a little huggy bear to hold onto for now. So she is on her way to a better life. Thanks to you.
I was thinking all the way back, "What must she be feeling now? So alone in her world, made fun of by other children and beaten by others in the village because she had no parents." Now she is safe and warm with a hot meal. This is true Dharma work I feel. So thank you for helping her. I have pictures to share with you when I get back.
I was able to spend time with Ishwori during my two visits to Nepal. I was not prepared for the warmth of her greeting at our first meeting. Luckily for us, lots of pictures were taken so we were able to hug each other for a long time. She was about fourteen then, and what else do you do with a teenage girl but go shopping? It was great to help her pick out a complete outfit, shoes and belt included, and see her joy at getting all new clothes. By the end of my visit, she was in bed with a cough and fever; it was the time of the swine flu epidemic. It was hard to say goodbye, but she soon recovered.
When I visited last year, she had really grown up. She had passed the big test that everyone takes at the end of tenth grade and was a part time intern at the front desk of a very nice hotel. She was attending eleventh grade and majoring in hotel management. She told me that she loves to dance and has performed with a group in the Kathmandu area. I asked her if she remembered the day that Christine found her and she quietly acknowledged that she did. Her self confidence had grown since my last visit and, as you can see by the picture, she has matured into a very beautiful young woman.
- Nancy Williger