“He has sent me to proclaim good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken-hearted” (Isaiah 61:1).
On a recent Mennonite Central Committee learning tour, we heard overwhelming stories of abuse from the women we met at KOSHISH in Kathmandu, Nepal. Bound in chains. Hidden away. Abandoned. These women were abandoned because of their mental disabilities.
KOSHISH director Matrika Devkota told his own story of mental challenge and hardship. He had a breakdown in his 20s and was eventually able to regain his health through the intervention of an MCC worker.
Later, Matrika decided he was called to a personal mission of helping others in need like himself, and he says, MCC was there to provide some help.
KOSHISH, which literally means, “try again,” now houses up to 40 women who are suffering from mental distress. The center offers treatment for them as well as rehabilitation in short-term residential communities and peer support networks. KOSHISH also advocates for inclusion, dignity and meaningful participation for people with psychosocial disabilities.
One woman, Kamela, tells us she was sold into slavery at age 4 and sent away to India. Along the way, she spent time in prison, had some mental challenges of her own, and lived on the streets in Kathmandu before being rescued by KOSHISH.
Today, Kamela, has a leadership role helping others at the center.
Matrika says KOSHISH rescues nearly 100 women each year and puts them back on the road to rehabilitation and reintegration into their communities. In less than 10 years of operation, KOSHISH has touched the lives of more than 700 women.
Matrika says he’s grateful for the help Mennonites gave him. Because they invested in making a difference in his life, he is able to make a difference in so many more.
The next morning as our learning tour group reflects on what we saw and heard at KOSHISH and as we read from Isaiah 61, it is easy to see how MCC is extending the good news to people who are excluded.
The spirit of the Lord is upon me, says the prophet Isaiah, to bring good news to the oppressed. Good news is what the women at KOSHISH in Kathmandu are experiencing.
Ron Byler is executive director of MCC U.S.