A wheelchair user trying to get an education against all oddsA brother and sister duo make their way to school every morning with the brother helping his sister on the wheelchair.
Amid the heavy traffic in the Prithvi Highway, a wheelchair rolls every morning. Weaving through the traffic, the wheelchair heads to the Mahendra Secondary, at Gunadi, in Myagde Rural Municipality Ward No. 1. The wheelchair belongs to 15-year-old Nabeena Khanal. Her 14-year-old brother, Ananda, helps Nabeena make the journey to and from the school six days a week.
While Nabeena is a second-grader, her brother studies in grade nine. Ananda says he is committed to fulfilling his sister’s desire to study. “It’s my duty to help her get an education,” says Ananda. “I’m happy to help her do so.”
This is an exemplary sight of sibling love, locals say.
It takes about 20 minutes to reach the school from their home. Ananda says he faces difficulty handling the wheelchair in the steep road downhill from their home, but he motors on for the love of his sister.
Dev Narayan Shrestha, Nabeena’s teacher at the Mahendra Secondary, said that she is a disciplined student; dedicated and eager to learn. “We haven’t been able to introduce separate classes for the disabled due to a lack of resources. For a wheelchair user like Nabeena, it is difficult, but she never gives up,” Shrestha said. “On our part, we put extra effort to help her receive an education and create a favourable atmosphere where she can learn.”
Nabeena stood third in her class during the recent final exams, says her teacher with pride.
Nabeena and her brother have had a rough childhood. Her father, an Indian citizen, along with his mother, used to work in India and would send home money for the siblings’ upkeep. But since their mother passed away from jaundice, their father has gone out of contact.
Nabeena’s maternal grandmother, Ranjata Khanal, said that the children’s father disappeared, leaving the children to fend for themselves. That’s when she decided to bring them to her house and raise them. However, money is tight in the Khanal household, and taking care of the children, especially Nabeena, is taking a toll on the family’s finances.
“Even though the school doesn’t charge money for Nabeena’s education, we have to manage money for her stationery and uniform,” said Khanal. “But it fills my heart to see her go to school every day.”