Born different but strong and determined

Suk Raj Sherpa, 26, from Lhamoidzingkha in Dagana was born with tri-amelia syndrome, a rare disorder characterised by the absence of three limbs.  He has only a left arm.

Despite being born different, Suk Raj is able to do most things able-bodied persons can do.

Today, he operates a small print shop inside his brother in-law’s general shop in Geserling, providing printing and lamination services to students and officials.  He also helps at the shop.

Suk Raj can also cook his own meals.

Suk Raj was adopted and raised by his brother-in-law, whom he calls uncle.

He completed class XII from Tendruk Central School in Samtse in 2019.  Special Education Programme supported his higher secondary education.

Suk Raj (front left) and his friends during their trip to Bumthang, last year

He is the eldest of five siblings and his parents live in Thimphu.

One of the things he missed out on as a child, he said, was not being able to play sports. “It used to make me sad seeing other boys in the school play football. Walking to school was challenging, especially during the monsoon. I’d be drenched to the bone.”

Suk Raj failed twice in class IX.  “But I was determined to complete class XII at least,” he said. “It would have been difficult for me to fit in the society otherwise.”

Pema Thinley, gewog administrative officer of Geserling, is Suk Raj’ friend.  When he first met Suk Raj he didn’t know his friend could do so much independently.

“I saw only his disability in the beginning. I was wrong. I don’t see him that way anymore. In fact, he can do a lot of things that we can’t. He can communicate with people better than I can, for example,” said Pema Thinley.

What amazes Pema Thinley is that Suk Raj never complains about his life and the hardships he has to undergo. “And he’s very passionate about new things.”

Many of the gewog officials are Suk Raj’s friends.  They like him.  On holidays, they go for picnics and trips to different places together.

Last year, Suk Raj visited Bumthang with his friends.  He said he had never in his life imagined that he would make it to Bumthang one day.

“It was my dreamland. Thanks to my friends I could visit many interesting and culturally and religiously significant places in Bumthang,” Suk Raj said.

While his uncle takes care of all necessities for him at the moment, one of his biggest concerns his uncle has is what would happen to Suk Raj when he is gone.

“A decent and permanent job would be good,” Suk Raj said. “That way, I can take care of my own needs.”

What kind of job?

“An office assistant, for example. I believe I can handle the job pretty well.”

Suk Raj’s current net income is Nu 2,000 a month from his printing business.

Royal Thimphu College provided him with a printer and laminator in 2019.

“Being an optimist is very important in life,” said Suk Raj. “Worse could happen. I never imagined that I could come so far,” he said. “I have my uncle to count on now. As to the future, I must take what’s in store for me.”

Chimi Dema | Dagana

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