It’s a dream for a Nepali journalist to be given an assignment that takes her away from her daily hectic grinds and allows her to discover a new place.
I recently got an opportunity to visit Humla for a week and I jumped at the chance. The trip has now become the most memorable event of my career.
Humla is one of the many places that were severely affected by the decade-long Maoist insurgency, and the scars can still be seen in almost every resident. Every person I met had his own war story to tell, and each one was touching and tragic at the same time.
Humla is the only district in the country now which is yet to be connected to the rest of the country through a proper road network. Though crops like paddy, wheat, maize and soybean are cultivated in some places of the district, the produce is just enough for the people’s daily needs. The hardships people have to go through merely to meet their daily needs and make sure their family has enough to eat is heart-wrenching.
The government and some non-government organizations have been sending food to Humla every season but still there’s a crisis when flights to Humla get cancelled due to bad weather for several days in a row.
Weather-wise too, living in Humla poses a challenge ever so often. The maximum temperature in summer is 26 degrees Celsius whereas the mercury dips during the winter months. Almost all parts of the district receive snowfall from November to March and most residents stay cooped up inside their tiny homes from December to February to avoid the freezing cold.
However, the residents of Humla have taken to rebuilding their lives with a strong vigor despite the odds being stacked against them, and are doing the best they can with the limited resources they have. They are now learning to cultivate vegetables and fruits and thus working to a better future.
For me now, Humla doesn’t bring to mind the proverbial underdeveloped district of the Karnali region where most of its people live below the poverty line.
Instead I think of green pastures, friendly faces and a fighting spirit.
Humla glimmers with hopes for a brighter future.
Shree Singh Sardul Barack is seen in the wetland on the lower parts of Simikot. Humla’s district headquarters was named Simikot or Simkot as the wetland or swampy area in the lowland is known as Sim (simsar) and Kot meaning fort in the medieval age.
The picture shows the Simkot Airport and the surrounding areas. The weather generally remains cloudy during the rainy season because of which many flights get cancelled for several days, namely in July and August.
A girl is in search of fodder on the way to Langna. Though above 90 percent of the children between the age f five to 15 are enrolled in schools, most of them have to help their families in domestic chores, farming and labor work when the schools are closed.
Nanda Bahadur Shahi ploughs his field while his family members are busy tending to buckwheat in Heldum. The locals consume palta (buckwheat leaf) and buckwheat rotis as part of their staple diet.
The pictures show children on the way to fetch water and women carrying laundry to the communal tap in Heldum. Locals have to face double trouble when landslides cut the drinking water and electricity supply during the rainy season.
An elderly woman works on her Chinu farm. The local crop which is similar to paddy is widely cultivated during summer.
A woman appears at a window of a greenhouse built by Dhaneshor Kami, a farmer in Simkot. It’s still compulsory for women belonging to Chhetri, Thakuri and even Dalit families to wear bulaki, big earrings and a long pote necklace.
Tents are erected on the banks of the Hepka River in Dharapori. Tourists heading to Hilsa, Limi, Kailash and Mansarovar often rest here.
Trishana Shahi, 40, is a mother of six children. Her eldest son is 20 years old and the youngest is just three. Kunwar didn’t want to bear more children after having three kids but her husband stood against her decision to opt for sterilization. Humla residents still lack awareness about family planning and preference for sons is higher, especially among the Thakuris.
A girl plays on the school premises in Dharapori village. Children don’t often get to play any kind of sports due to the lack of flat land. Boys sometimes get the opportunity to play volleyball at school but young girls have to either enjoy their Bhandakuti or watch the boys playing.
Samjhaune Budha, 43, a resident of Chari has traveled out of her village only once in her lifetime. Her son took her to Taklakot, the Chinese side of the border. They had to walk for three days to get there. She has not been to any other places of Nepal.
A dense settlement of Syaandaa Village where there are 160 households. Around 60% of the households have toilet facility but only 40 percent actually use it. Defecating in the open is an old habit they can’t seem to get rid of. Some even store hay in the toilet rather than using it as intended.
Locals participate in a prayer at a Church in Simkot. A missionary named Maya Sadan has been actively working to convince locals to convert to Christianity since 2009 and many followers now gather at the church every Saturday. Sadan has also established an orphanage that currently houses 15 children.
Source: Republica Daily