Shree Neha Pokharel, founder of Nepal Snehi Kakh, rescues and shelters individuals with mental illness wandering the streets. She has been contributing for almost one and a half decade and currently shelters as many as ninety-four people ranging from eight months to eighty years old.
Such a social activist gem stepped as a guest on the 25th episode of Desh Sanchar Chautari and disclosed the binary of joy and challenges along her journey.
She had not assumed to have these many people while rescuing a man in her early teens. Everyone in shelter-even those at her grandparents’ age- embraces her as “Aama” for her perpetual generous act to raise them from homeless to supportive propriety. The joy she is generated through their gradual recovery and reintegration is phenomenal. Meanwhile, she is fearful of the economic constraints due to the increment of numbers.
She is not coy about sharing her endeavors like Momo stall, endorsing and advertising products, land broker acting in plays and short movies to finance food, shelter and medication to her ‘family’. She adds that the one-time meal contribution as part of celebrations like birthday and anniversary has remained one of the primary resources thus far.
‘I could not resist a man covered with dirt and carrying dozens of torn paints on his shoulder drinking water from drainage and offered him water from a distance; all frightened by his appearance. As he quietly accepted water I was assured that he does no harm to me,’ she uttered one of the early inspirations or events that firmly motivated her towards this footstep.
A school girl- she was a daily passerby to the street the man was wandering. Once, she asked him what he wanted to eat. He replied ‘Bhat’. She provided him rice and as he was about to eat rice with his stained hand she got his hand washed. What’s more! she with the help of her brother had to get his hair cut as no barber dared to manage his tousled hair. Long story short, she eventually decided not to let him wander on the street.
She sounds thankful for those suggesting timely to begin her social work formally and legally.
She believes that she has inherited compassion and kindness from her mother. The mother, once reluctant as she was too young to shoulder such responsibility now happily encourages her saying ‘you are born for this’. She, sometimes, regrets that she is unavailable to serve her mother suffering from Asthama due to engagement with the family she chose.
Expenditure of rescue, treatment, schooling of children is enormous. She met some who were actively involved in social activities and eventually tired. Therefore, she prays that she wouldn’t tire of serving till her lifespan. “I chose to serve and I continue it to optimum possibility, yet I am hopeful that the government turns its eye one day,” she sounds positive.
‘I can’t force anyone to donate; rather it would be a great relief if any mental health professional visits us for at least a month’, she says.
The most painful and subtle situation is to rescue mentally ill women with pregnancy. Those who even do not know whether they are man or woman are rape victims, she bemoans upon insecurity to women. “We can raise infants with all love and care but I am distressed how they face the questions society poses to them,” she worries, many of such women are unaware they have given birth and the administrative hurdle for their birth certificate is no less.
She expresses her gratitude to Ram Babu Sir and Rupa Thapa who have been guiding her throughout and for their contribution to setting up an Akshya Kosh.
“I aspire to establish a hospital with all capacity that any mentally ill remains just a call away so that not a single person should wander the street and no other Shree Neha has to be born ever.”
An aged woman just rescued needs a liver transplant. She has a wishful thinking that she would be able to save her and appeals to the people to contribute for the cause. Her cell number is 9860012085.