My name is Kamala Poudel. I am Nepalese woman of about 40 years of age. I am from Rasuwa District , a border area between Nepal and china. I am a person with lived experience of the mental health /psychosocial disabilities and I am under medication for the same. I have non-affective psychosis since my early ages.
I work at KOSHISH in Kathmandu, Nepal. I am very happy since I get spiritual satisfaction through my work of helping persons with mental health and psychosocial issues as part of my job activities. Honest to God, I never thought I can be that fortunate to get a job at KOSHISH. I feel blessed and blissful.
Though I am very happy in my job, helping and supporting people with the mental health /psychosocial issues in Nepal, I have a big personal problem.
I do not have citizenship or any other identity document or any other documentary proof and life is very difficult because of this. It is not possible to obtain citizenship /disability identity card without the documentary proof of being connected to Nepal.
I cannot travel outside Nepal to any place since I do not have any proof of identity . I cannot visit Singha durbar, which houses buildings of the Nepali Government, including the Pratinidhi Sabha, (the House of representatives) the Rastriya Sabha (the national Assembly ) and several Ministries for disabled adovcacy , self advocacy etc. because I do not have any identity proof. I cannot even apply for a disability card, and avail relatively cheaper medical services in the Government hospitals.
My life has been an ordeal in the past.
The poverty and associated hardships were a barrier in themselves but along with it the shabby mental health condition made me more prone to insults and violence and socio-cultural misgivings. I think the mental health issues in my life are the outcome of the adverse circumstances I faced in my childhood years.
When I was 4-5 years of age my step father had sold me into child trafficking and I had to suffer life in a brothel house for about 5 years. I ran away from the brothel house at the age of 10, but the hardship never left me alone. Since I lost contact with my true biological family due to the child trafficking I had to fend for myself all through my growing up years for the food, shelter and clothing.
I worked cooking and cleaning jobs in the roadside eateries, doctor`s clinics, hospitals, small missionary churches , here and there and shuttling in between jobs and places being restless due to the mental health issues which however could not be diagnosed at that age. However, while working in the missionary churches I got spiritual anchor which has lasted me all through, all my hardships.
Eventually, I started my dream job of being a tourist guide in Kathmandu , but my deteriorating mental health created barriers and to my efficiency and productivity at the work and I got into a despair situation since there was no support, trust and hope for me in the life. I became doubtful about my own self, my capabilities and worst of all others in the society. I stopped trusting anyone and everyone.
During this phase, I was caught by police and imprisoned on account of narcotics charges in Kathmandu central prison without any fault from my side and as far as I remember without any proper trial. This was the time when the Maowadi movement was at its peak in Nepal and the police was filling prisons on any small lapse without any proper trial. I did not have any financial, social support so I languished in the prison for the long number of years and my mental health suffered all the more.
After about a number of years when I was released from the prison, I landed in the streets with no hope whatsoever. I tried to look for job but in my kind of condition no one was ready to give me any job rather everyone wanted to shun me away. More than actual mental health condition, the perceived mental health condition, linking with my vulnerability made me prone to insults and violence and socio-cultural misgivings.
I was made to feel embarrassed almost about everything about me and I was considered a nuisance factor by most of the people. My socio-economic faux pas existence became an insufferable ordeal for me but I did not know what to do and how to escape these situations.
However, by grace of lord almighty, KOSHISH rescued me and transformed my life completely. I was given treatment, therapies and medicines at their emergency services transit home. They put me onto counseling, and therapeutic activities, and medicines.
In the beginning, I was a loner and used to sit alone, not interacting with anyone. Slowly, I opened up and started sharing my feelings with the staff and inmates at the emergency care service center. With the interaction my health improved and eventually, I used to involve myself in cooking , bead making, painting and knitting at the emergency care service center and the counselor used to help me revive my past in positive spirits. Before getting into counseling, I was into a vicious circle of self-pity asking always one question to myself ‘what have I done to deserve this kind of life?’ But the counseling helped me get into positive thinking and to look for the silver lining in every grey cloud.
Working with the colorful beads and painting colors used to help me control my paranoid emotions and it as well helped me overcome my phobias regarding meeting and talking with people. Finally, I had basic threshold recovery and I became capable of managing my life once again. I was fortunate I was given an opportunity to work at the KOSHISH.
Initially, for one year I worked as a cook in the KOSHISH central office and eventually I got into advocacy, awareness and sensitization and now at present I am working as a program officer in KOSHISH trying to support other sisters and brothers like me, the way I was helped and supported at KOSHISH when I was helpless and vulnerable.
Since my childhood days, I have only one identity –that of a runaway victim of human trafficking. The growing up years of a person in life are the foundation to the future of that person. Unfortunately, my growing-up years are that of a vagabond, leave alone not being formative, these years destroyed my claims to a yielding future completely. Had I not been rescued by KOSHISH, I probably would not have been alive today. How I wish to the gracious Lord that KOSHISH be able to reach the vulnerable people like me and help them just as I was helped, and I find true bliss in it.