Smokie’s story

Dr Stan had another story for us, which I will share with you now.  It features SIRC staff member Prajjwal Ghimire, known as Smokie to his friends due to his love for Smokie Robinson’s music.

Smokie (r) with Dr Stan (l)

Smokie (r) with Dr Stan (l)

Smokie is SIRC’s Community Relations Officer whose primary focus is to travel out to ex-patients homes way off the beaten track, and look for ways to modify their homes for easier access.  A few examples for you.  Photo credits Smokie Ghimire.

Access to the home by wheelchair is impossible

Access to the home by wheelchair is impossible

Newly built ramp by Prajwal now provides access to the home

Newly built ramp by Smokie now provides access to the home

At ground level, a wheelchair user cannot access the cooking area

At ground level, a wheelchair user cannot access the cooking area.    

With some small adjustments, the cooking area is now accessible

With some small adjustments, the cooking area is now accessible.

This gives you a flavour of the kind of magic Smokie works for SIRC’s ex-patients.  You may also remember Smokie from my many blog postings last year, tracking Ram’s Wheelchair Yaatra.  Smokie along with Binod the driver, was the key support person to Ram, helping Ram realize his dream to complete the Yaatra from Namobuddha to Lumbini.

But back to Dr Stan’s story which I am reproducing with Dr Stan’s permission.

“I am posting this short “story” with the permission of Smokie.

On Wednesday morning I was standing around the driveway of a dilapidated building waiting for the bus that would bring us to the Center.


After a few minutes of looking around, one of the SIRC staff members casually came up to me. Hey Dr. Stanley he said, did you know this place has special significance for me? How so?, I replied.

You probably haven’t noticed but I was born with a club foot, he said. When I was one years old, my father brought me here to get an operation on my foot. He dropped me off and didn’t come back for 16 years. Actually, he didn’t even come back then but I was allowed to leave at that age.

For all those years I lived in this orphanage, never knowing if I would ever see my family again. My father only let my brother come to visit a few times a year and he refused to allow my mother to come and visit me at all. I went to school here, spent all my holidays here and the other orphans became the only family I ever knew. My biological family could never accept my disability.

Smokie is now 27 years old and is married. No kids yet.

In thinking about him over the last couple of days, I am not sure how much things have really changed since his childhood. People with disabilities are discriminated against every day. They are still forced to fight for every possible inclusion into society.”

Thanks Smokie, for sharing your story with us.

About Kate Coffey

After 30 or so years in the investment management industry, 2013 saw me turn my life up-side-down, making my way first to Nepal, then Bangladesh during that first ‘year away’. The year took me on a journey I did not expect, had me fall in love with Nepal and its people, and become inspired at the work of Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre (SIRC) located in Bhainsepati - 2 hours east of Kathmandu in the Saanga foothills. Since 2014, I have returned to SIRC numerous times, working closely with the folks there in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquakes. In Bangladesh I marvelled at the strength and resilience of marginalized women who have the courage and audacity to break the rules and make a better life for themselves and their children through microfinance programs with BRAC. 2016-2017 saw me embark on a totally new experience in Sri Lanka, a place I never would have chosen to end up in. It’s the 40C+ heat, big humidity and tropical snakes & animals that scared me! But I ended up love love loving! my time there, working with predominantly Tamil small business owners in remote villages in north and east of the country, trying their best to recover their businesses and the lives of their employees, after decades of a civil war. My time in Sri Lanka made me realize my hard-earned business skills and experience can really be put to good use! The work the BIZ+ team and I did there ended up earning me International Volunteer of the Year Award in December 2017, presented on Capitol Hill, Washington DC no less. I am currently home on Bowen Island, in the west coast of Canada, shoring up my finances before I head off to who knows where, for my next expert volunteer assignment. This blog initially started out as a travelogue of sorts to keep friends and family worldwide updated while I was off on my travels in 2013-2014. Since then it has morphed into a life story of the many places I have lived and worked and of the wonderful people I have met along the way. I hope you enjoy.
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