A photo of her walking through an unknown alley with her infant daughter, published in Chicago Tribune, became an iconic image of that tragedy.
Nearly 14 years later, Thapa, now 32, has re-appeared in Kathmandu this week at the launch of a book about her at a book fair. She is the protagonist of The Girl from Kathmandu, the book by British journalist Cam Simpson.
Thapa, a seventh grade dropout, says: “I can’t read this book, but my daughter will.” Her daughter Kirtika, now 15, is now in Grade 10 at a private school in Kathmandu.
Simpson tells the story of Thapa’s fight for justice and struggle to raise her little daughter. Simpson had previously exposed a web of agents, contractors, sub-contractors and security companies responsible for the massacre of Nepalis in Iraq.
Jit Bahadur, Thapa’s husband, wanted to give his wife and daughter a better life. So, when he spotted an ad in a paper about a highly-paid job in Iraq, he applied at Moonlight Consultants in Kathmandu. They told him he could earn Rs100,000 a month by working in a luxury hotel in Jordan.
Little did he know that Moonlight Consultant was actually the local agent of an American contractor involved in supplying cheap labour in the war zones of Iraq. The Department of Foreign Employment issued him a labour permit in June 2004, and he was taken to Iraq.