By Sean Corcoran
to an audio version of this
More than a dozen Cape restaurants and food purveyors
gathered recently at Mattakeese Wharf in
Barnstable Village to help out two of their own. An
uncle and his nephew, both foreign farm and restaurant
workers from Nepal, were severely injured within days
of each other in separate car accidents this past
Mark Begley of Beach Point Oysters was happy
to be using his shucking knife Tuesday night, even
though he had about 300 oysters to open, and, he was
giving them away for free.
: "A number of us, being from the Cape, hearing
about an accident like happened here, not too far from
the Mattakeese Wharf ... we looked for an opportunity
to do something, and as soon as we heard about
tonight's event, we were, really in a split second,
ready to come and do what we could."
Begley, along with dozens of others in the Cape food
industry, came to Mattakeese Wharf this week to help
two local farm and restaurant workers, Chhodha Lama
and his uncle Chewang Rinchen Lama. In a tragic stroke
of irony, both men were hit by vehicles within just a
few days of each other this past summer in Barnstable.
30-year-old Chhodha Lama got the worst of it. He was
struck by a car Aug. 3, while walking his bicycle up
Commerce Road. Tim Friary, who employs both men in his
fields at Cape Cod Organic Farm, says Chhodha had just
left his dishwashing job at Mattakeese Wharf for the
night when he was hit.
"Basically it was a hit and run. The lady got out of
the car, looked at him., And he said, "Home, hospital,
please." He was pretty beat up and he was explaining
that. And she got back in the car and left. And he got
scared. He got under the bushes, he thought she was
coming back to run him over, so."
The impact broke Chhodha's left ankle and shattered
his right leg. After a few minutes of hiding under a
bush, he began to crawl for help.
"He tried crawling back to 6A, to home, but then he
figured my farm was closer, so he started crawling
back. He crawled a couple, 300 yards, before somebody
found him. And he was bleeding pretty good, too. It
was a sad scene.
Paul Venditti, the general manager and Lama's boss at
Mattakeese Wharf, was one of the first people to
arrive at Chhodha's side.
"It was one of the ugliest scenes I've ever seen. Him
curled up n the side of the road, scared as can be,
not being able to speak English. Trying to speak with
the ambulance and so forth."
Five days after the accident, 48-year-old Donna Meek
of West Yarmouth was charged with leaving the scene of
an accident with personal injury and operating to
endanger. Her case is still pending in Barnstable
District Court, where she's pleaded not guilty.
Then, just a few days after Chhodha Lama was injured,
his uncle, Chewang Rinchen Lama, broke his leg when he
was hit by a delivery truck while riding his moped in
Barnstable, not far from Friary's farm.
"It is kind of a strange situation that that would
happen to two people that are living in the same
house, 11 days apart.... But this had nothing to do
with their driving or anything. It had nothing to do
that they were doing wrong with their vehicles or
bicycle. I mean, it seemed to be just a slip of bad
Two months later, the men are still recovering from
their injuries, Friary says. And being out of work
doesn't just affect them. Their families back in Nepal
also have lost an important stream of income.
"What they do is support their family, their extended
family and then the village. The money, it goes, they
work hard and support a lot of people. It is not just
like just supporting our immediate family, they are
supporting an extended family also and villages, and
people from other villages come in and look for money,
too, ya know, support. It is a way different society
over there. A lot of caring, sharing and compassion."
Both men are in the United States on temporary work
visas, and their medical bills will be covered by
insurance. But because they're still recovering, they
have no way to take care of their day-to-day needs.
That's where the friends the Lamas have made over the
past few years come in, Friary says.
"I have a lot of respect for them. And when they go
hit, it made me very sad. It made my heart very empty
and stuff like that. I felt like I had a social
responsibility to help them out and take care of them.
I feel good about that. We've done well."
Proceeds from the benefit and ongoing fundraising will
be split between Chhodha Lama and Chewang Rinchen Lama
to help them and their family through the winter. Both
are expected to be recovered enough to return to work
by next season.
Anyone interested in donating to the Lamas can contact
Paul or Laurie Venditti at Mattakeese Wharf at
Restaurants and businesses participating in the
Brewster Fish House
The Old Yarmouth Inn
The Red Pheasant, and The Wicked Oyster
Barnstable Sea Farms
Beach Point Oysters, and Great Marsh Sea Farms
Creative Baking Company
Kayak Cookies, and Paul Marks, Inc.
Broadcast October 5, 2006
Sean Corcoran reports for WCAI, the Cape and Islands NPR Station.