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  • Roger Thompson

Tribute to Bikash Adhikari

The CMS Ireland family mourns the tragic passing of long-time partner Bikash Adhikari (SD Church and SDSS, Nepal) who died on 4 March after a long illness. Nepal Partnership Coordinator, Roger Thompson pays tribute to a wonderful friend and dynamic leader who was always seeking new ways of serving the poor and marginalised

It was with immense sorrow that we learned of Bikash’s recent passing. He - together with his parents Babukaji and Goma, and beloved wife Bijata - have been long-term CMSI partners and friends over many years, visiting Ireland on a number of occasions and facilitating many teams, placements and projects in partnership with the society. Bikash was held in the highest regard by all the staff and wider CMSI family membership – especially in parishes linked to Nepal – and our hearts go out to his family circle at this time of grief.

I first met Bikash in May 2014 when I attended the “Changing Times” CMSI conference in Armagh City Hotel, where he was a delegate along with his parents Babukaji and Goma. He made an immediate impression with his outgoing personality, irrepressible sense of humour and infectious laugh. He was also a gifted communicator when he spoke at church gatherings both large and small.

Three years later I was privileged to stay with him in Kathmandu, when Jenny Smyth and I were visiting Nepal to meet our partners and strengthen the CMSI links there. From the moment we arrived in Tribhuvan Airport Bikash made us feel so welcome and “part of the family” – I’d never before been greeted with a garland of flowers! He had no hesitation in offering me the spare room in his family home, even though it was a busy place with his wife Bijata, young son and parents all living under one roof.

In November of that year Bikash hosted a small CMSI Team (with parishioners from St Brigid’s, Glengormley and St. Mark’s, Dundela), and then in 2018 he facilitated a third visit - this time to help CMSI prepare materials for the 2019 Children’s Resource, “Outside In”. On all these occasions Bikash showed consistent care and practical assistance, while at the same time giving all his guests an insight into the quite amazing ministry of Sundar Dhoka Church and Sundar Dhoka Saathi Sewa.

It’s hard to capture in words the fantastic breadth and diversity of this ministry – but as Bikash gave Jenny and I a tour around the SDSS building on that first day, it was quite mind-blowing. The purpose-built complex housed dormitory accommodation for up to 50 patients and carers - mostly people with disabilities who were welcomed in to the city from remote rural areas in order to access essential medical treatment – and the place was humming! There were disabled-friendly initiatives such as tailoring workshops, craft making income-generation projects, a kitchen and canteen, physiotherapy & counselling services, and also administrative offices, plus a large meeting area for training courses as well as church worship (which has since moved to other premises).

Although founded on the vision and energy of Bikash’s parents, it was usually Bikash who was at the heart of the envisioning, planning and delivery of projects, often supported by his wife and the strong team of committed staff and volunteers at SDSS. And although the centre was always buzzing with activity, Bikash made a point of making time to listen to individuals with personal problems and needs – a steady stream of which would arrive at all hours of the day. There was also an emphasis on prayer and worship, which was the spiritual heartbeat both of the centre and of Bikash’s personal life.

Moving out from this hub, there was a constant series of outreach activities, networking both with other faith-based groups and also local Government and health agencies. For a number of these CMS Ireland was able to act as partner, supporting with prayer and finances through our link parishes and other donors. These activities were always marked with compassion for the poorest and most marginalised communities – working for example, to provide emergency medical camps in remote areas devastated by floods and landslides, or long-term care and education for children disabled in the 2015 earthquake, or sourcing medical supplies for people living with leprosy, or facilitating girls health training for students in secondary schools whose education was being harmed by taboos and inadequate provision of sanitary pads.

When the Covid-19 pandemic struck in early 2020 the focus of SDSS’s community work became even more intense, responding to the severe challenges the spreading virus was having on local health services, and also the terrible impact of lockdown upon people with disabilities and daily wage labourers. Under Bikash’s leadership, SDSS succeeded in partnering with the Lalitpur Municaplity and a number of local health agencies to help facilitate a huge variety of Covid-response initiatives.

These ranged from a massive information campaign, distributing leaflets, posters and practical advice on hygiene to thousands of families on low incomes, to emergency food and medical supplies to people with spinal chord injuries, to training ambulance drivers to disinfect their vehicles, wear correct PPE and carry out their duties safely. Another major initiative was managing a 110 bed, disabled-accessible Covid Isolation Centre, where scores of infected patients received care before being discharged back into the community. It was always remarkable whenever Bikash gave feedback at one of the CMSI online gatherings for partners from many countries – his energetic descriptions of all that God was doing were so inspiring!

It was a terrible shock, therefore, to learn in November last year that – after helping so many others meet the challenges of the pandemic, Bikash had himself been struck down with Covid. Tragically the virus took a huge toll on his lungs, and despite the dedicated care of many doctors, and the heartfelt prayers and assistance of family, church community and friends all round the world, he eventually lost his life in early March.

In addition to the profound grief we all feel at losing such a dear friend and leader, we feel all the more for his wife Bijata, young family and parents Babukaji and Goma, sending our love, prayers and sincere condolences. The pain and shock of losing Bikash at such a young age, however, is not without hope, for we are confident that he is now at peace with the Lord he served so faithfully. “Well done, good and faithful servant! ….Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21)

Messages from friends in CMSI

Bikash, you were a giant in your soul and the hundreds and hundreds of people you prayed for and helped will be heartbroken to know that you will no longer be able to bring comfort into their lives. But may they and we know that the love you practiced was the love given to you from Jesus and that it is there for them and us to carry on your legacy of compassion and love”

So hard to believe that someone so vibrant and full of life as Bikash is no longer with us in body. Heartfelt prayers for Bijata, the children, Babukaji, Goma and SDSS. What a legacy he leaves behind and such a tribute to him that he developed a team to carry on the work. Our hearts are broken but Bikash is with the Lord.”

Tributes from Kathmandu

“Bikash served the most marginalised group of people with all his enthusiasm. Though we have lost him, we have his enthusiasm, his vision and his commitment to serve and love people from rural and remote places.” (Rev Dr Bal Krishna Sharma)

“I met Bikash at a disability related programme he organised. Since then we have worked together. We started an isolation centre in the municipality and Bikash’s help in this is unforgettable. The isolation centre helped people from all over Nepal.” (Mayor of Lalitpur)

“When people were scared of COVID, Bikash was proactive about serving families and individuals badly affected by the virus. He was a mentor to all the staff at SDSS.”

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