– August 25 2020
My journey from street child to nurse battling coronavirus
With the love of her sisters behind her, Kamala was able to achieve her dream of becoming a nurse. Now she’s dedicating her life to giving other children who have lost their parents the same chance at a better life.
Kamala Tapa understands what it feels like to be a scared child who has lost her parents – that’s what makes her such a great nurse for children at the SOS village community in Sanothimi, Nepal. By the age of three, Kamala was living on the streets. She tells of nights of fear, of the street dogs she and her sisters fed and who protected them while they slept, and of being hungry all the time and not being able to go to school.
SOS help meant she and her sisters were able to stay together as a family after their parents abandoned them, find a safe place to live and enroll in school for the very first time. Now 27 and a qualified nurse, Kamala has joined the SOS team in Nepal so she can help other children like her find the same love and hope that changed her future.
“My big sister is the real hero,” Kamala tells us. “It's because of her we are here today. I'm so grateful that growing up we were able to be together."
When the coronavirus epidemic reached the city, Kamala immediately moved in to the SOS village to help keep the children there safe and healthy. It meant leaving behind her home and most of her friends, but putting herself into lockdown was a small price to pay to make sure she was on hand for the children when they needed her – and she couldn’t risk bringing the virus into the village from outside.
Under her care, none of the children or their SOS parents have contracted the virus. Even so, most days there is a line of children waiting outside her clinic room to see her. Often, they come just to hear her voice and receive comfort, because Kamala understands the children in ways that only another survivor can. She knows that emotional pain and loss can make children feel unwell. Longing and grief can be felt in the body as headaches or stomach pains for instance, she tells us.
“Most children here suffer from the loss of a mother or a father, or both. That is often why they come to me, even though they might not always need it. Just a little headache is enough for them to come to me, because they want to feel good,” she explains.
Sometimes the best prescription she can offer the children, is love. And some advice she learnt from her own childhood. “Be strong, be bold, do the hard work and never leave your studies,” she tells them. “Think positive and everything will come to you.”