The narrow, winding road from Kathmandu to Dhanusha district in eastern Nepal is jammed with outdated buses and vans; the former bring workers back to the village, the latter carry frightened goats to their roof, which will soon be sacrificed. At the end of September, the country is preparing to celebrate Dashain, the largest and longest of Hindu festivals. Within hours, 1.4 million people left the capital to join their families and pray to the goddess Durga, a symbol of the victory of good over evil, which can ensure prosperity. The opportunity for separated families to gather around delicious food, to spruce up homes, to buy new clothes. Most households have at least one person who has gone to work, inside or outside the country.
After six hours of tight turns in the mountains, the landscape changes dramatically. Dhanusha district, on the border with India, is the only flat part of the small Himalayan country. Endowed with tropical vegetation, the flat valley is still overwhelmed, at this time of the year, by scorching temperatures. It is not the poorest region, but it is from here that the largest contingent of Nepalese workers left for Qatar in recent years.
Since 2010, the year the emirate was chosen to host the 2022 World Cup, hundreds of thousands of Nepalese have gone to work there. There was no shortage of work sites: it was necessary to build or renovate eight stadiums, but also all the related infrastructure, roads, highways, metro, hotels, new towns… Reputed to be good workers, inexpensive, because they were unskilled, the Nepalese workers saw themselves assign the most difficult, most dangerous tasks.
Budhan Pandit, a peasant, was one of them. He came from Rupaitha, a charmless farming village in Dhanusha, about twenty kilometers from the Indian border. He worked hard for four years on various World Cup sites. The Nepalese worker returned in a coffin. It was twelve months ago. His widow, Urmila, 35, prostrate on the steps of her house, lets her youngest son, Dinesh, tell their ordeal. The last time she saw her husband was seconds before he died.
“My mother was on the phone with him, in video, confides the teenager. It was time for his break. He was working on the construction of an airstrip at Hamad International Airport in Doha. He was sitting in front of a bulldozer, which worried my mother. But he had told him: “Don’t worry, the whole site is at a standstill.” » The couple were discussing the health problems of Urmila, prone to fainting, when suddenly a cloud of dust invaded the screen. Then nothing. After two days of anguish, a colleague broke the news to her: her husband had been crushed by the bulldozer, killed instantly. It was an uncle who repatriated the body two weeks later. Only the trunk remained.
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