A migrant woman’s life of hope and despairAsha Pariyar, a Nepali migrant worker in Kuwait, faced an uncertain future when she fell into a coma. Supported by the Amritsar Social Organization she is currently recovering in Kathmandu while her family yearns for her to return home.
Fourty-year-old Asha Pariyar from Bharatpur Metropolitan City-19, Rampur Chitwan, prefers the outdoors. Upon waking up, she taps the walls, hoping someone passing by will notice and take her outside. Unable to walk on her own, she has to be helped by four individuals to take her to the balcony in a wheelchair.
Only then does she begin to smile, lying on the ground and soaking up the sun until it sets. Occasionally, she glances at a mobile phone, laughing out loud at the things she sees. Despite her inability to speak, she nods in understanding when spoken to.
Santu Dhakal, a staff member at the Amritsar Social Organization (ASO), which supports and advocates for Nepali women migrant workers, discloses that Asha and her toddler daughter receive care from two individuals during the day and one person at night. Dhakal explains, “Their day begins with diaper changes at 7 in the morning. Subsequently, they are provided with a cup of warm water, have their teeth brushed, hands and feet washed, and clothes changed.” Bathing, which occurs every two days, requires the assistance of more than two staff members.
The mother-daughter duo receives regular meals every few hours. Paralysed on the right side, Asha can only move her left limbs and needs assistance for daily tasks. Details about a past head operation are not well-known, but a tube is connected to a hole in her neck through which she is fed. Weekly check-ups by doctors and nurses focus on infection prevention, and both Asha and her daughter attend therapy sessions and oil massages.
When I started taking her photos, Asha covered her mouth and laughed for a long time and then started crying. She displays awareness of her surroundings but is unable to communicate verbally.
Asha relocated to Kuwait four years ago for employment as a domestic worker. After a year, she lost contact with her family. Subsequently, she fell into a coma and, unable to recover at Farwaniya Hospital where she spent a year, she was transferred to Sawa Hospital.
While in Farwaniya, three months into her hospitalisation, Asha gave birth to a daughter while still in a coma. After spending 27 months in this condition, ASO facilitated her transfer from Kuwait to Kathmandu on November 15.
Last July, the Nepali Embassy in Kuwait notified ASO about Asha. Muna Gautam, a founding member of ASO, explains, “Her family was promptly informed, but they expressed their inability to care for her or her daughter due to their challenging financial situation.”
Presently, in her destitute state, Asha is under the care of ASO.
Dipsan, her son, was in the ninth grade when she left for Kuwait. He stopped going to school due to their financial struggles and started working. When he learned about his mother’s return to Kathmandu, he, along with his father, visited her.
He recalls, “Seeing my mother’s condition in-person, it felt like I had fallen off a cliff. When she hugged me, we both cried uncontrollably, cursing fate for the game it is playing on our lives, dooming us to misery.”
He is back in Chitwan right now, working hard to feed his family but missing his mother terribly every day.
Asha’s husband Dhan Bahadur Pariyar, 52, rises early and heads to work. Father and son share a rented room in Chitwan.
About seeing his wife again, he says, “When I heard she was hospitalised, I thought it would be something she’d recover from soon. But when I came to Kathmandu and saw her state, I felt overwhelmed—my mind couldn’t think.”
“All I want is for her to come back home fully recovered,” adds Dhan Bahadur.