Pokhara, Nepal — When Nirmaya Mogor was 14, she studied in the sixth grade at St. Francis School, Pokhara, a tourist spot and gateway to a popular trail into the Himalayas. But Nirmaya lives in the Bus-Park slum — away from the attractions of Nepal's second-most populous city. In November 2017, she had not been to school for the previous month due to a leg fracture that kept her indoors.
Her parents, unemployed and physically challenged, had no nutritious food for their daughter. Living in a slum, they face the challenges that more than half of Nepal's urban population endures daily, according to a 2014 World Bank report based on data from the United Nations.
However, the girl received warm chicken and vegetable stew, thanks to the thoughtfulness of Sr. Martha Park Byongsuk of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres.
The South Korean nun, popularly called "Sister Martha," had cooked the stew for Nirmaya and carried it through the streets on foot to serve it to her when she was housebound.
Nirmaya, now 16, is among the regular crowd at St. Paul's Happy Home that Byongsuk began for the slum children of Bus-Park. The home is named St. Paul's in honor of the patron of the congregation. When Byongsuk spotted Nirmaya, the girl was studying in a public school but was stuck in the same grade for three years for lack of financial and educational support. The nun admitted her to the church-run school three years ago.
As Byongsuk walks along the narrow lanes of the slum, the young and the old alike fold their hands with reverence and wish her the Nepal greeting, "Namaste."
She wears a gray habit and a farmer's hat to protect her from the hot sun. At her back hangs a sling bag that contains a stethoscope and blood pressure monitoring equipment. Byongsuk has changed noticeably the face of the slum since she first set foot there in March 2009, Manu Nepali, a slum dweller, told Global Sisters Report.