Thursday 22 February 2018

Irishman miraculously finds his long-lost mother in rural Nepal shack after 30 years

John and meets his long-lost mother Maile (Photo: Facebook/A House for Maile)
John and meets his long-lost mother Maile (Photo: Facebook/A House for Maile)
John shows his mum pictures of her grandchildren (Photo: Facebook/A House for Maile) Newsdesk Newsdesk

An Irishman miraculously found his mother in an earthquake-hit, small shack in Nepal 30 years after he last saw her.

Thirty-five-year-old John Hodge said he always wondered about his mother who had returned to her homeland of Nepal after her relationship with his father ended.

Hodge began a trip to the other side of the world to find his mother Maile (57).

"I've come back with a whole new family and a new language to learn," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

Hodge found his mother living almost destitute in a remote village in Nepal, and returned home to Ireland after the reunion.

However, just three days after his return, he heard news of the massive earthquake that has left over 7,500 people dead.

John shows his mum pictures of her grandchildren (Photo: Facebook/A House for Maile)
John shows his mum pictures of her grandchildren (Photo: Facebook/A House for Maile)

The father-of-two, originally from Bangor, Co Down, waited a week before he found out his mother and newfound family in Nepal were safe.

Hodge first arrived in Nepal with his wife and only the name of the small village his mother lived in. The village was so remote he was unable to find it on the map.

But, unbeknown to Hodge, his contact in Nepal had already begun the search for him before he arrived.

"It was completely bizarre," he told the newspaper.

"We knew she came from a village in east Nepal called Phalametar but we couldn't even find it on the map.

"A former Gurkha called Kul Limbu was running the Hotel Himalaya we had booked and he had arranged for a driver to pick us up from the airport.

"I emailed him and asked if we could hire the driver for the day and also if he could arrange an interpreter," he continued.

"He asked why and I explained our story.

"Mum's surname is Limbuni, which is a variation of Limbu, which is our caste or ethnicity and very common in the region. Kul had warned that it would be hard to find her because the name was so common.

"He then approached the local school to see if he could get us an interpreter, and when he told the story to the headmaster it turned out that he knew my mum, and in fact is related to us."

Hodge said the successful connection was kept as a surprise until his arrival.

"When we arrived at the hotel he sat us down and just said, 'Your mum is waiting for you'.

"It was absolutely wonderful and such a relief to know she was definitely alive and that she knew we were there and I was coming," Hodge said.

"For me then it was a case of just trying to prepare myself for seeing her again.

"I was trying to second guess how I would react, I didn't know what to expect."

Hodge said the thought did cross his mind that someone may not have been genuine if word got out 'this guy form the West' was in Nepal looking for his long-lost mother.

But he said the moment he say Maile he knew she was his mother.

"I couldn't really believe it was happening. She didn't speak much English and I hadn't learnt much Nepalese.

"We had brought clothes and medical supplies with us. Mum had been quite withdrawn to start with but by the end of the week she making jokes with us and we could see the change in her and so could her family.

"By the end of the week her English had started to come back to her. The last night was difficult and it was very emotional saying goodbye."

John's mission is now to build his mother a more stable home and has already started fundraising. Any extra funds will be donated to aid for the victims of the Nepalese earthquake.

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