The Story of Wangdi – The Bear Warrior

Paro, Bhutan

Wangdi is a 64 year old male who lives in the village of Punakua, a two hour drive from the Capital City of Thimphu. Three years ago, Wangdi and some of the other villagers were rebuilding their homes. When he and his friend went into the forest in search of more wood they had an unfortunate surprise encounter with a large bear and her three cubs that had been sleeping under a tree. While Wangdi’s friend managed to run away, the bear went after Wangdi, viciously attacking his face and head. With his head halfway inside the bear’s mouth, Wangdi desperately tried to pry himself free. In the process, the bear tore three of Wangdi’s fingers off his left hand. With his right hand, he was able to pull out his long knife from his “gho” and stab the bear twice before losing consciousness. In the meantime, his friend ran back to the village to get help. Although he was badly wounded, they were able to get him to the hospital and saved his life. Despite his terrible wounds he asked his friends to go back and try and find his watch, which had come off during the attack. Although they didn’t find it, they did find the bear lying dead a few yards from where they had found Wangdi. Today, Wanghi’s face remains badly scarred from the attack, although time and surgery have improved his appearance. He wears a fur hat to cover the loss of scalp on his head and stylish dark aviator glasses to mask the damage to his eyes.

He was first operated by Surgicorps in 2007 to reconstruct and reposition his eye socket. He has been back each year for additional surgeries. In 2010 a staged reconstruction of his nasal cavity was conducted with a rib bone graft, and his badly deformed eye was also further reconstructed. He’s back again this year (with cooler looking dark shades) to re-adjust the positioning of his lower eyelids to help stop his constant tearing and protect his eyes. He still carries his trusty knife with him at all times and says he’s very grateful that he still has his thumb and two fingers on his left hand so that he can finger his prayer beads and thank his good karma that he was still alive.

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