Jumla Updates by Krishnamaya Upadhayay

JUMLA UPDATES: In July when Saru Nepali’s husband Lokesh returned to his village in Bohoragaun, Chandannath Municipality, Jumla from India, the couple quarantined themselves. Saru says being in a quarantine facility was hard, “When I was in quarantine, I was alone in a room with no lock or curtains,” she says, “The toilet was far and would not close, I felt unsafe.”

The couple were allowed to go home when they tested negative for the COVID-19 virus. They had hoped for a quiet time at home, but when they returned the neighbours had turned hostile towards them. The Nepali family was not allowed to enter their fields to farm, neighbours stopped talking to them, and some were even hostile. One of Saru’s best friends Sharmila stopped wanting to go to the forest with her to collect fodder. “I had to endure harassment, it was painful,” says Saru.

It has been almost two months, and things are starting to turn. As a part of a de-stigmatization campaign, the municipality organized some awareness programs which have had a positive impact on the community. As infection rates surged, Saru says people around her are more aware of the virus and understand how one is infected. “There is more knowledge, and people are aware that anyone can get the virus,” Saru says. She can go back to the field and Lokesh has taken a job at a construction site. As she gets ready to leave for work Saru says, “Recently, Sharmila also reached out to me and asked if we can go collect the fodder together, things are changing.”

Text and photos: Krishnamaya Upadhayay @purnimashahi572020

Copy edit: Nisha Rai @nishastoryteller

Edit: Mallika Aryal @mikaness

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