Chitra Rana

1996
Chitra and husband Krishna on vacation in Santorini, Greece.

Chitra and husband Krishna on vacation in Santorini, Greece.

Human Resources Manager, JSI DC

What do you like about working in public health?

I love my work because I love to interact with people. At my previous job at USAID/Nepal, my supervisor told me he selected me for the personnel manager position because I am compassionate, a good listener, and have strong people skills. That was back in 1992. I was happy with my life, enjoyed my work, and intended to retire in Nepal, when an incident shattered my dreams and hopes of leading a normal life.

What happened?

Back then, Nepal was fighting for democracy. There were riots, baandhs (work and traffic stoppages), and curfews throughout Kathmandu and surrounding areas. One sunny April afternoon, I was home recuperating from gall bladder surgery. Schools were closed due to the riot, and neighborhood kids were running in and out of our compound. I was standing outside my house making sure my two sons, aged ten and twelve, were within reach. All of a sudden, two policemen approached our compound and fired at me from six feet away. Before I could realize I had been shot, I fell to the ground and fainted.

When I gained consciousness, I was in the hospital. I had been shot by a World War II bullet above my right knee. The entry wound was 6” across and the exit wound was 12”. It basically took out my femur bone. The doctors feared that I would get gangrene and amputated my right foot above the knee three days later.

“I am proud to be a part of JSI—the same JSI that opened its first overseas office in Kathmandu, Nepal in 1981.”

How did you get back to the United States?

We don’t have good medical facilities in Nepal, but because I worked for USAID I was able to get a green card from the State Department after my injury. I went to Seattle and got my first prosthesis.I didn’t think I would ever walk again, and I couldn’t hold back my tears of joy when I actually did. It wasn’t easy at first. I fell down, got up, and walked until I got blisters on my stump. These days I use a C-leg, the best in computerized prosthetic leg technology. I have to “charge” my leg daily, the way others charge their cell phones.

Eventually I was able to move to Washington D.C. permanently. After that, there was no looking back. My family and I arrived in the U.S. on August 6, 1996 with eight suitcases, no jobs, but hope for a better life.

Chitra’s family celebrating Dasain, their most important festival, at home in Fairfax, Virginia.

How did you end up connecting with JSI?

I heard about JSI through a Nepali friend here in the U.S. I arranged an interview and was hired as a staff associate for the SEATS project. I’ve had my current position as HR manager of the JSI/D.C. office since February 2010. I never dreamed that a handicapped, minority woman like me could become the HR manager for such a well-known, reputable organization as JSI. It gives me immense pleasure when Nepali staff visiting the D.C. office say, “We’re proud of you.”

What do you like about working at JSI?

And I am proud to be a part of JSI—the same JSI that opened its first overseas office in Kathmandu, Nepal in 1981. We’ve come far, but we have a long way to go in improving the health of individuals and communities throughout the world.

Namaskar!

A Project to Remember

I started at JSI as a staff associate for the SEATS project. But before I could even fully understand what the project did, it came to an end and I was busy looking for another project! That was a bit scary but I got used to moving from one project to another. Most of us have gone through this exercise, right?

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