PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --
Responsibilities for Staff Sgt. Gopal Pudasaini, 21st Space Wing Family Health medical technician, are not limited to those in the Air Force.
Day-to-day he treats patients in the Family Health clinic at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, but when he goes home, his day doesn’t slow down. While studying for his classes with the end goal of becoming an Air Force doctor, Pudasaini also takes care of his three sisters and their kids from about 8,000 miles away.
He has been the head of his family since he was 14 years old when his father passed away in Nepal, where Pudasaini was raised and his family currently resides.
While he has always been there for his sisters, in 2015, when a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, Pudasaini said he was unsure if he still had a family.
“All communications were down. Nobody knew what was going on,” said Pudasaini. “All of a sudden I get a call from my first sergeant who says ‘Hey, did you know Nepal got hit with a 9.4 Richter-scale earthquake? Do you know if your family is OK?’”
“I tried to call but all I heard was a dial tone. The next day was the same thing. I tried to reach out to many people. I was trying to get a hold of my family, trying to locate them.”
After a week of uncertainty, Pudasaini received news his family survived the natural disaster, but also learned their home had been destroyed. One of his sisters was living under tarp and bamboo.
“I found out they were OK, but everything was gone,” he said. “They didn’t have food water, sewer, anything. They were in a field somewhere, living under the stars, it was not a good situation. I had a three-bedroom house, and I couldn’t do anything.”
Attempting to relocate his family to the U.S. after the earthquake was unsuccessful, so Pudasaini raised and sent funds to pay for a concrete house for his sister and her kids to live in.
Ten months after the earthquake, the foundation and structure of the concrete house was built, and his sister and her kids moved in right away thanks to the funds Pudasaini sent to his family every month.
“[Taking care of my sisters] is instilled in me,” Pudasaini said. “When my father died, because it’s a male dominated society, I became the father of the household even though my sister was three, four years older than me. I became the one that had to take care of my sisters. They’re still my responsibility, at least until they’re back on their feet. I don’t have second thoughts about it, you just do it, it’s your family. If I don’t, who will? That’s what motivates me to keep doing it.”
Pudasaini was successful in bringing his family to safety due in part to his co-workers at the 377th Medical Group at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, who started a GoFundMe page and raised $3,500.
With only a few thousand more dollars left to pay for the new concrete house in Nepal, Pudasaini said his resiliency is what motivates him when it’s tough to find balance between his life here and in Nepal.
“Fighting takes resiliency,” Pudasaini said. “That’s what ties into the Air Force mission, is that I’m willing to fight, I’m not one to give up.”
“When I came into the Air Force, I was not an inexperienced person who didn’t know what he was doing. What I brought to the Air Force was my resiliency, openness to learn and willingness to adapt.”