The question came about a year ago and it took quite some time before it was actually published. I am honoured though that the online (and of-line) magazine Digital Photo Pro made this short interview and some brief ‘specials’ as well. A day of filming at my house, being uncomfortable in front of a camera instead of behind one… it was quite the experience.
These weeks I’m working again in Kathmandu and Chitwan, for KIOCH. It’s the second time this year as I was here in May as well. Then, the objective was to create this story, explaining the vision of KIOCH ( also mentioned in this older post). This time the assignment was to show why KIOCH is needed, by showing you the stories of various children.
The children that I have met this trip each stole my heart. Their stories are often sad and sometimes futureless. Others are stories of hope and resilience. I have shared quite some stories on my Facebookpage if you’d like to check them out. One story though, impacted me personally so much, I’d like to share it with you on this platform as well.
The second day in Kathmandu I visited Karsang, a 14 year old girl from Mugu, a small village 7 days traveling from Kathmandu. She was staying in a foster home or a hostel as people call it here. She had been operated on quite a while ago, one of the valve in her heart being replaced. After that operation, she returned home, but for the aftercare it was necessary to use medication. Going back to her family in Mugu, the problem of dosing her medication properly came into existence. This resulted in cluttering of one of the veins and she had to return to Kathmandu only a few months ago. Clearing the veins, doctors decided she had to stay in the ‘hostel’ for regular checkups.
Not long after, things went wrong again and the decision was made to operate again. As this time a higher risk of complications was expected, her father was called and asked to come as quick as possible, delaying the operation with about a week.
It’s these days, waiting for her father, that I met Karsang. At first being a little bit shy, I tried to connect with her by asking questions and showing me around in the hostel. She first showed me how she played badminton, but soon I saw how bad her condition was as she had to sit down. Grasping for air and with a heavy chest we had to take it slow. That moment of sitting there together until she felt better again, opened her up and she liked to write me a letter, asking me to read it out loud.
Her words touched me deeply and I promised her to come back next weekend for the preparations of the surgery. Also I arranged with Dr Koirala - who would be the one operating her - that I could be there while she would undergo the whole procedure. And she would be awake just in time for me to meet her before I would return back to the Netherlands. She gave me a goodbye dance with her friend before we said goodbye for that day.
Last Thursday - four days before her operation - I was at work in Chitwan, some 150 km away from Kathmandu, when I got the horrible news that Karsang didn’t make it till the operation. The evening before she was rushed to the hospital with internal bleeding. As the family didn’t really have a budget, bags of blood weren’t reserved but needed. With great effort, stabilising procedures were performed and things looked up again. But that night complications arose again. This time, despite all the efforts made by the medical team and surgeons, she didn’t recover and died. Her father unfortunately didn’t make it in time.
Having had such a brief, but intense connection with this beautiful child, I was heartbroken when I heard the news. That night, I wrote her a letter back and the people that I stayed with assisted me with a beautiful ritual, saying goodbye to her soul, wishing her a safe journey onwards.
This was my letter:
I would have seen you this weekend before, during and after your second operation. But this morning I was heartbroken to hear you didn't make it because of sudden complications. It saddens me even more to know your father didn't make it on time to properly say goodbye.
It comforts me personally to imagine that you are free now... free of uncertainty, free of pain and free of hospital visits... you are free to leave this often ugly world behind and move on to where or whatever is next. To use the words of your doctor: This world lost a great human and a pure soul.
I will treasure the letter you wrote to me and remember the smiles that you gave to me.
Rest In Peace dear Karsang.
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Team up /
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