I’ve been meaning to type up more about the people that we work with on a daily basis. To date, I’ve spent so much time looking at per patient costs, the number of avoidable deaths reduced, and the sheer number of patients our little project has been able to take care of… that I have glossed over the stories that make this place so special, it is the people of this place that are so inspiring and it is these people that continually inspire me…much more than any data point could! In light of this, one of my major goals is to better chronicle the people of Oda and their stories.
A great place to start is with a family, and specifically a 20 year old mother, next door that continually inspire me. Usha Malla, is a beautiful, intelligent, and kind hearted neighbor of ours in Oda. When I first arrived in Oda, Usha and her brothers Yaga, Hansa, and Hikmat were 3 of the first people I met. Their warmth, smiles, and dance moves created an instant connection and Hansa, the middle brother is a major reason behind why the project turned towards health. When I first met him, he was a delight despite the scabbies all over his body…And at that time there was next to nothing he could do beyond smile and bear the pain. It was after this first interaction, that I knew we had to focus on health.
Hikmat, Hansa, and Yaga below:
During my first trip I also learned that just a couple months earlier, Usha’s mother had died from an unexpected aneurysm. It wasn’t until a few months later that I learned that their father was dying of COPD, and had just a few more months to live. Despite caring for her brothers, her father, and her young daughter, Usha always took time to come over say hello and help out in our early months.
Following the death of her Father, Usha became the head of the household watching over her daughter Ramita, and her brothers. In the months following the death of her father, she facilitated Hikmat’s move to Kathmandu and Hansa’s move to Kohlpur where they are currently studying. In the face of these challenges, Usha doubled down on her desire to contribute to her community and support our mission.
When we first decided to move to our new facility, Usha was the first person to come forward and immediately offered a portion of her families land for the project. In a community of subsistence farmers, land is an enormous gift. While they did not have much, she wanted to contribute to what was going on in Oda, and gave a significant chuck of land left behind by her father. In response to this act of generosity, we told Usha that she could use some of this land to move her small shop near the hospital. This would allow her take advantage of the people travelling long distances to reach Oda. On a daily basis, when she’s not working the fields or taking care of her daughter Ramita, Usha is cooking chow chow, making tea, and running her small shop to support her family.
Her entrepreneurial spirit, positive attitude, and willingness to help not just her family but the project are just a few of the reasons I admire and respect her and her family so much. Despite such enormous personal loss, Usha continues to be a source of optimism and perseverance and whenever I’m feeling discouraged I can look to her.