Surviving difficult times and finding happiness – From our Neuri Aama

5th April 2016

On the west side of Nibuwatar, ward number 9 in between thick forests, lies Neuri, one of the remote settlements where the Chepangs live. Chepangs are one of the indigenous tribes of Nepal who previously practiced nomadic culture but now live at Neuri permanently.

During our resent settlement visit we saw an elderly lady sat outside her house smiling at us as we passed by. She greeted us with ‘Namaste’. Shirjana, a member of our group, felt she had a positive vibe and so chose to sit down and talk with her for a while, and we called her Aama.

Even from this brief talk we found her really interesting. Her stories, her life and her positive reaction to talk made us want to stay longer. As the sun was due to start setting behind the mountains, we bid her goodbye with a promise to come back again.

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Neuri Ama and Shirjana

After two weeks we finally got a chance to go to see our Aama. She was right there welcoming us with that infectious smile of hers. We sat down and started talking with her for 2 hours of new learning and experience. She spoke about her childhood and we found out that she eloped with someone at the age of thirteen. This was an exciting and adventurous time, running away from home. However she soon felt nostalgic and missed her family. When her family visited her, they consoled her and blessed her for her new life with her husband.

She and her husband shifted from one place to another, finally they came to Nibuwatar and stayed here for fifteen years. But, being a nomadic tribe they didn’t own any land and were evicted. They went up to the forest cleared the land and made their little home. She was blushing as she spoke about her husband and her youth. One of the incidents she shared with us touched our hearts. At the age of thirty, she insisted her husband to remarry as they couldn’t have any children. She was very happy and excited to bring a new bride for her husband.

Finally, her family was complete with two children. But the happiness didn’t really last long as the second wife died. After years her husband and her son died in a course of a month and even her daughter-in-law eloped. This left her to raise her grandchildren alone, without the ability to fulfill her basic needs. Now she lives with two grandchildren, one granddaughter-in-law and a great grand-child.

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She says “Life is what it is. Happiness is what gets us through life instead of venting out frustration”.

Even though she doesn’t remember much of her life she says she remembers the first time she met us and took photos together. She said that she loved when someone took her photos and we think she has a very photogenic face.

Written by Nepali Volunteers Santoshi Poudel and Samridhi Shrestha

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