| 03.21.2018

Learning from Mamta — Everyone can learn a lesson in compassion from the life of Mamta Kandel


I didn’t know Mamta Kandel well.

We worked together at The Argonaut for a few months and exchanged greetings on occasion, but we were by no means anything other than acquaintances.

Mamta died in the early hours of Dec. 15 in a car accident, while traveling to Spokane. She and three other passengers entered the opposite lane and were hit by oncoming traffic.

Two passengers, Basu Kafle and Bikash Sigdel, suffered minor injuries. Kafle’s broken shoulder is healing, but might need orthopedic surgery.

The fourth passenger, Sumit Shahi, had surgery on his abdomen Dec. 18 and requires another surgery for his hand. All four are Nepalese students attending the University of Idaho.

Kandel was supposed to go home to Nepal a few days after the accident — the first time she’d been home in almost three years. She was headed home for a three-week mission trip.

Almost 100 people have posted to Kandel’s Facebook wall since the accident. Most are in shock. Many shared happy memories, videos and photos of Kandel.

The Nepali Student Association started a Crowdrise page to raise money for Kandel’s funeral expenses and the bills of the other victims. Almost $25,000 was raised.

By all accounts, we probably shouldn’t have gotten along very well.

I’m a brutally honest person and I’m not always the most sensitive. I like things done my way and I get frustrated if stuff isn’t how I like it to be.

Kandel was unconditionally kind and thoughtful. She understood that, in context, her personal problems were small. Other’s issues were much more important to her.

Her personality type was very different from mine, but she taught me a lot about passion.

We were passionate about different things. I’m devoted to bettering myself and the organizations I’m involved with. I’m in college to gain experiences that will help me get a job, and eventually, a career in the field I want.

Kandel, however, set her sights higher. She was eager to help end human trafficking in Nepal and India. I don’t know many people that are willing and energetic enough to take on big, international problems like she did.

She inspires me. Knowing the impact she made with her short life makes me realize, in a way, I’m wasting mine. I live in a country with endless resources and I’m not doing nearly as much as I should be to help those less fortunate, at home and overseas. Kandel makes me want to change that.

Everyone can learn from her.

She was probably going to save the world, or at the very least, single-handedly stop human trafficking. It would behoove the whole UI community to remember her and channel her energy for life and for doing good.

The Palouse has Kandel to thank for a new awareness of world issues. It was not beyond her to gather groups of people to tell them about mission trips and problems in Nepal. Kandel continually sought connection between her home country and her new home, Moscow.

She worked tirelessly with Real Restoration in Spokane to help young girls who had been involved in sex trafficking in Nepal.

Mamta showed me anyone can make a difference. All you have to do is have a little passion.

Tess Fox can be reached at arg-opinion@uidaho.edu or on Twitter @tesstakesphotos

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