Hari Budha Magar's Journey to the Top of the World
Hari Budha Magar was severely wounded by a bomb blast in Afghanistan that left him fighting for his life. This is his story...
Tell us a bit about your childhood... I was born in a very remote part of Nepal, so joining the British Army was a way out. The selection was tough, but I was lucky to be one of the 230 chosen from 10,000 applicants. I was 19 years old and very proud. It was a big honour and a chance for me to build a better life.
How were you injured? I was on my first tour of duty in Afghanistan. We were on patrol and had been chatting to the locals and giving children sweets. Suddenly, there was a loud bang and I had ringing in my ears. At first there was no pain, but there was dirt and dust in the air and I heard someone shout: ‘ Man Down! Man Down! ’ I didn’t immediately register it was me, but then I realised I had been blown up. When I looked down my right leg wasn’t there and my left leg was dangling – it was just skin and bone. There was lots of shouting and my mouth went really dry as the blood started coming out of my wounds. I can remember the guys shouting: ‘ Stay awake, stay awake! ’
What went through your mind? I had time to wonder if I would survive, but I also worried about what the guys in my patrol were going to do. I was second in command, so who would look out for them for the rest of tour? They relied on me and I felt I had let them down. I thought of my family and realised it was a race against time to save me. They put tourniquets on me to try to stem the bleeding. I was dragged across the ground and put into a helicopter where medics cut off my uniform, which was soaked in blood. The next thing I remember was waking up in a hospital bed in Camp Bastion.
That must have been very hard to deal with... It was. My arm was in plaster and was being held up by a pulley. I didn’t have the courage to look under the blanket at my legs. I knew that my life would never be the same. The previous day, I had been in charge of a group of soldiers, on the verge of promotion with a long career in front of me. Now, I was a double amputee and my career was over. I thought about my wife and if she would stick with me now that I was an amputee. I also worried how I would look after my three children. I felt very depressed.
What was your rehabilitation like? I found it really difficult. I had to learn the skills most people take for granted – how to stand, balance and walk, how to make a cup of tea and get dressed. At first, I couldn’t do anything and had to rely on my family to do everything for me. I got angry with myself for getting injured. I had surgeries to repair my stumps but I was disillusioned. I started to drink heavily and it got to the point where I tried to take my own life. I didn’t think there was anything left. I wasn’t a soldier any more. I was totally lost.
How did Blesma help turn your life around? Blesma has done a lot for me. The charity was at my bedside when I got back to the UK. It encouraged me to work hard at my rehab and paid for adaptations to my house and garden, which made life easier for me and my family. The charity took me on adventure trips and I even went skiing with them, which gave me my confidence back and made me realise I could rebuild my life. It is also great to be part of the Blesma community because there is camaraderie and banter – important parts of Army life that I had to leave behind.
On top of the world with Blesma’s help Hari became the first double above-knee amputee to summit Mount Everest in May, having trained for the attempt for five years as well as lobbying officials in Nepal to overturn a ban on people with disabilities climbing Everest. Blesma supported Hari in his record-breaking attempt. “After losing my legs in 2010, I spent years struggling with difficult thoughts and feeling like I had nothing to offer the world,” said Hari. “Almost 15% of the world’s population have some kind of disability. If, after reading my story, someone finds a purpose to live before they give up, I would be very happy that I made a small difference. “Without Blesma’s help, I would never have been able to stand on the top of the world. Now that I have, I want to inspire people to have full, independent lives and not be held back by their disability.”