- Bikash Tamang used to play football with the support of a stick; today, he makes limbs for the disabled and uplifts lives everyday
By Marianne David
It takes a special kind of strength to play football when you’re playing without half a leg – and that’s the stuff Bikash Tamang is made of. He refuses to back down when faced with challenges, no matter how insurmountable they may seem.
As a child, Bikash, now 25, would play football fanatically, using a stick to support himself. It was clear from the start that he wouldn’t let his disability keep him away from anything even then.
Today, he is still driven by the same spirit, determined to make a difference despite his disability and committed to uplifting others who are facing the same challenges.
Although he could play football as a child, there were many things he needed assistance with – getting about, going to the toilet, preparing meals and so on. He was highly dependent on his parents and siblings for many, many years. But today, all this has changed.
When people complain about getting a limb fitted or say it is hard to walk, I convince them by telling them my story. I explain how it is hard at the start, but we have to do our best on our own and we will get used to it. That’s how I inspire them. I am very happy to serve people who come to get artificial limbs and my goal in life is to help them
Before he got his new limb and new job, Bikash lived at home with his parents. He was born without a limb from below the knee yet he had never felt that he was missing something as a child. But as he grew up he had felt the difference when he was with friends and saw what they could do.
“That was painful but I was courageous and determined to do anything. I was always active. I participated in football matches, where I would run about with the help of a stick. After getting the limb I can now lift a bucketful of water, I can cook my own meals and I can freely walk here and there. There have been a lot of changes in my life.”
Today, he moves about freely and with confidence and is able to look after himself in every way.
In December 2018, a neighbour told Bikash about an artificial limb fitment camp that was being planned by the Chaudhary Foundation in Nawalparasi and Kathmandu in Nepal, where over 500 prosthesis limbs would be distributed free of cost.
One camp was carried out at the Sahaj Community Hospital in Gaindakot, Nawalpur. This is now the location of the CG Mahaveer Sabal Centre, a permanent centre operated by the Chaudhary Foundation to provide artificial limb fitment, where Bikash has been working since it was established in April this year.
According to estimates, there are some 100,000 people in Nepal without limbs. The centre aims to support this population by providing artificial limbs, post-fitment care and other aids throughout the year, free of charge.
“I got to know about the camp from a neighbour and I was fitted with a limb; later I connected with a teammate from the foundation and told him I was looking for a job opportunity. I was then trained in making the limbs,” says Bikash.
When we met in Nepal end October, he had made 59 limbs and he also offers counselling to those who come to receive fitment services.
Bikasah and his family are originally from Lamjung but now they have migrated to Tanahu. His parents are engaged in agriculture. He has two brothers and a sister. His siblings received higher education, but he only studied until 10th standard due to his disability.
Now Bikash lives on his own, is constantly learning, earning money and supporting himself. He emphasises that family was ever-supportive. “My parents only wanted to see me settled and will always support me.”
Speaking about his work, Bikash said when people come to get artificial limbs, at first they are quite upset, sad and worried about the barriers.
“The limb quality available at this centre is very good. When people complain about getting a limb fitted or say it is hard to walk, I convince them by telling them my story. I explain how it is hard at the start, but we have to do our best on our own and we will get used to it. That’s how I inspire them. I am very happy to serve people who come to get artificial limbs and my goal in life is to help them.”
As a child, Bikash would play football fanatically, using a stick to support himself. It was clear from the start that he wouldn’t let his disability keep him away from anything even then. Today, he is still driven by the same spirit, determined to make a difference despite his disability and committed to uplifting others who are facing the same challenges
“I can only imagine how difficult life is for people who lost their leg for a sin that they haven’t even committed,” said Binod Chaudhary, the Chairman of the foundation, during the opening ceremony of the Nawalpur Camp
A bus hit Riya, who was three at the time, while she was walking to school. Her leg was crushed and — after being rushed to a hospital — it was immediately amputated. During the months that followed, Riya’s parents said they weren’t sure if she would make it. However, she slowly became stronger and began learning to live life without a leg. Three years later and Riya is finally getting her life back through the Jaipur Foot initiative. She was given a prosthesis leg on 13 January 2019 during the Artificial Limb Fitment Camp in Kathmandu. Riya said she is “proud” of her new leg and can’t wait to get back to doing things that your average little girl does.
Dhan said she works hard every day to be nice so she can be happy. After all, her first piece of advice is always, “if you [are] nice, you will be happy.” However, despite her kindness, Dhan said she isn’t truly happy because she has felt different for over 35 years. It started with losing her leg in a car accident. But with a big smile on her face, she proudly proclaimed she was “happy now” because she was able to walk for the first time in decades with her new prosthetic leg that she received on 17 January 2019 during the Nawalparasi camp
The first thing Suk said was, “I feel different.” He said the alienation started over 30 years ago after a bus accident that left him without a leg. But Suk said he wants to walk again, and finally has “confidence” that he will thanks to the new prosthetic leg he received on 17 January 2019, during the Nawalparasi camp. During the camp, Suk said he was “inspired” by everyone around him and that alone could drive him to learn how to walk again
The Chaudhary Foundation believes quality education, good health and a sustainable ecosystem are required to uplift Nepal so that every citizen can aspire to live a safe, healthy and productive life.
It seeks to support Nepal in graduating from least developed country to developing country by 2022.
The idea for the CG Mahaveer Sabal Centre was born after the Chaudhary Foundation carried out two artificial limb fitment camps in Nawalparasi and Kathmandu, where over 500 prosthesis limbs were distributed free of cost.
Though the foundation aimed to provide 500 prostheses on a first-come, first-served basis, it turned no one away — the Kathmandu camp (11 to 15 January) helped 58 recipients receive 59 limbs and the Nawalparasi camp (17 to 21 February) helped another 418 beneficiaries receive 449. “I can only imagine how difficult life is for people who lost their leg for a sin that they haven’t even committed,” said Binod Chaudhary, the Chairman of the foundation, during the opening ceremony of the Nawalpur Camp. “It is not just standing and walking as we usually think, they are challenged to carry out their everyday activities — this is our small initiative to make their life a bit easier.” The idea for the CG Mahaveer Sabal Center was born after the Chaudhary Foundation signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2017 with the Indian Government to bring Bhagwan Mahaaveer Viklang Sahayata Samiti (BMVSS or Jaipur Foot) — an organisation that provides free prostheses, calipers and other equipment to beneficiaries around the world — to Nepal.
Chaudhary noted that he was “highly impressed” by Jaipur Foot’s work, which is why he decided to have it come to Nepal.
“The artificial limb camp was the first of its kind in Nepal, where we were able to serve around 500 amputees,” said Chaudhary Group Executive Director Varun Chaudhary. “This is something we feel very proud of — providing service to those in need.”