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  • Writer's pictureAnna Mendham

From Homeless to High Flyer

Updated: May 9

Kamal was born in a remote Nepalese village with no electricity or running water.  The family survived via subsistence farming but suffered years of hardship when the harvests failed.

 When Kamal was five years old, one of his sisters, who was married and working in Kathmandu, invited him and his brother to share her room in the city so that the pair of them could attend school. 

Nepalese Family
The one and only photo of Kamal (left) as a child

Escorted by their father, the boys walked for three days to reach the nearest road. The bus they boarded was the first vehicle they’d ever seen and driving into a capital city must have blown their tiny minds. 

As Strange as city life was, it also proved enriching. Their sister was able to provide them with regular meals and both of the boys thrived at school.

After a year though, their sister lost her job, the family became homeless, and the boys – aged 6 and 7 - ended up selling bottles of water on the street to survive.  After several months of abject poverty, the parents managed to scratch enough money together to travel to India in search of a better life.

Kamal’s oldest brother was already working as a laborer in the Himalayan district of Manali, so this is  where the family headed.

Here the parents gained work with a road-gang and rented a shack in an immigrant shanty town. 

Kamal and his youngest brother were finally able to return to school but this time the lessons were in Hindi and they only spoke Nepalese.

Its testament to their intelligence and determination that after a few years they were both at the top of their class and had made lots of friends.

Nepalese Students
Kamal (left) and his brother Neema

We first encountered Kamal during lockdown when he accessed the advanced English tuition that Generate Love was running in his community.  He immediately struck us as special due to his positive attitude, fabulous work ethic and his ability to inspire both classmates and staff members. Over the subsequent months and years, we have found him to be extremely intelligent, profoundly compassionate, in possession of a great sense of humor and simply a joy to be around.

Being one of those kids who are good at everything, he could easily have won a place at a top university, if only fortune had been on his side. Alas though, the year he graduated with a first-class diploma, even a local college was suddenly out of reach due to his oldest brother suffering from kidney failure.

For two years, Kamal (and his youngest brother Neema) labored on the roads to pay for his sibling’s dialysis and medicine and for the upkeep of his sister-in-law and baby niece.

Despite the stress and grueling work, he still attended our evening classes and retained his positive attitude.

 We knew from the activities that we’d run in former years, that Kamal’s true passion was trekking and outdoor pursuits and thus – inspired by his indomitable spirit -  we fundraised to send him - part time - to Manali’s Institute of Mountaineering. During the two years that he was supporting his brother and family, he also managed to complete a Basic and Advanced Mountaineering course and, on both occasions, graduate at the top of his class.

Kamal Tamang
Kamal trekking at Rani Sui

Subsequently, he's been been talent spotted by a North American adventure company. They run a leadership training course in the Himalayas and want him to attend. The month long course - if successfully completed - would lead onto him being employed as an international mountain guide - commanding an international wage.

The intensive training usually costs over $20,000 but having won a scholarship from them means that Kamal only needs to find $1000 to cover his kit and travel expenses.

Of course "only a $1000" is a relative term especially when you're earning $5 a day and need to support your family.

Kamal is so close to breaking himself and his family free of poverty - please can you help him take this last step?

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