'A Picture of Humanity'

‘A Picture of Humanity’

Rendered an outcast in his native Nepal — unemployed and unemployable, homeless, alone — Ashok Shrestha is getting a new lease on life through a Creighton professor’s portrait and crowd-funding efforts.

Art professor Rachel Mindrup first learned of Shrestha two years ago through a Facebook post that included his photo.

Wearing a beautifully patterned knit cap and a snug, green-and-gold checkered scarf, Shrestha’s face was shrouded by a massive tumor, leaving only one eye visible over a distended nose and cheek.

The tumor was the effect of neurofibromatosis (NF), a genetic disease of the nervous system. Moved by Shrestha’s story, Mindrup painted a portrait from the photo for her exhibition “Portrait of a Disorder: The Faces of Neurofibromatosis.”

The painting was included in the exhibit’s opening at Creighton in the fall of 2016, along with Shrestha’s story. It immediately garnered attention. People coming to see the show asked how they might help.

An online donation page, replete with Shrestha’s story and Mindrup’s painting, was established and promoted on social media. It attracted donations worldwide, including a generous outpouring by the Creighton community.

Thanks to this support, Shrestha had surgery in March to remove 85 percent of the tumor. Plastic surgeons reconstructed one of his ears and opened a second nostril. Funds are currently being raised for a second surgery at gofundme.com/ashok-shresthas-surgeries.