Monday, November 07, 2016
By Julia Erman, Kopila Valley Volunteer
There are so many stories to be told in Surkhet. One story that has hit home for me, is that of a 5 year old girl in nursery class named M.
M’s mother works seven days a week at a construction site. She is a great mother and she works hard to provide for her family. M's father is deceased and, because of her mother's demanding work schedule, M is ocassionally left alone. The best part of M's day is coming to school at Kopila. Some days her only meal is at school, and often she hangs out on the school grounds for as long as she can.
Since first meeting M her face hasn’t left my mind. She has been on my heart since I first saw her. Today I went looking for her since we had a half day at school, and found her alone outside her house playing in the nally (the deep gutter that runs along the side of the road and serves as a sewer for the town). I asked her when was the last time she bathed, which would have been at the school since they have no plumbing at her house. She told us it had been two weeks.
P, 6, another Kopila child who lives in the house couldn’t help but offer to go get shampoo and some of her own fresh clothes so we could bathe little M at the school. As I washed the dirt off her small body and hair, I just wanted to love her, to hold her and play with her. My heart breaks for what she would call a normal everyday reality.
After M was all cleaned up, we took her home to hang her clothes out to dry. Her home is very humble, and is about the size of a chicken coop. No running water or power. The first thing she did when we got home was change her clothes. When asked why she said she didn’t want to get her new clothes dirty.
I’m not sure why her story has hit home for me more than others, and yes there are others, hundreds just in our school, but what I do know is I will do my best to love her with all I can while I’m here.
UPDATE: Shortly after this was written, her mother got accepted into the Women’s Center weaving program. Her mom is now able to be home for little M after school. She also receives a stipend that is enough for her to pay rent and buy food for her family. M’s mother is going to be trained for the next few months, and afterwards she will be employable by local shops, allowing her to provide the kind of life she dreams of for her children.