While the earthquake last year spelt disaster for many Nepalis, 16-year-old Amir Bomjon got a chance to make something of his life.
Born handicapped to an impoverished family in Palung, he watched his mother work herself to the bone to support the family. Because of his physical state, he grew up feeling like a burden. When the earthquake struck, relief workers from UNICEF and the Karuna Foundation reached Palung to help survivors from underserved communities, and one of them saw Amir making a call on his mobile using his lips.
They recognised his enthusiasm for learning and decided to bring him to Kathmandu and enroll him in English and Mathematics classes at the Special Education and Rehabilitation Center for Disabled Children (SERC) school in Baluwatar.
Teaching himself to use mobile phones is just one example of Amir’s indomitable spirit. Sketching, painting, and singing are among his many passions. When working on art pieces, he maneuvering pens and paintbrushes by deftly holding them in his mouth. “In my loneliness, I started drawing,” said Amir, “I had no friends so instead I interacted with my surroundings by drawing what I saw.”
Amir’s creativity also manifests itself in his love for singing and songwriting. Frustrated by his physical limitations, he penned verses about the anguish he felt. Recently, with the help of two mentors, he gave voice to those feelings in a song dedicated to his main caregiver, his mother.
Amir was in the bathroom when the earthquake struck on25 April 2015. His mother ran back into the house while it was still shaking, and carried him outside to safety. The house was badly damaged. The song compares her to a goddess, saying he could never live with
UNICEF plans to sell some of Amir’s paintings, as well as a CD of his songs, at an auction in May. The proceeds will go towards helping other disabled children and paying for Amir’s living expenses in Kathmandu.
“Rather than talk to other people about my pain, I would talk to these paintings.” Amir, 16, deftly paints on canvas with his mouth after being born without the use of his arms and legs.
“Disabilities range in severity and type, whether physical or intellectual, but Amir’s thirst for learning is something we can all learn from.”