Namaste and hello!
After 40 days in Nepal it’s about time that you get some words from me(Sindre) as well!
Now it has been more than three weeks since we started working in the hospitals. My Danish partner, Christian and I have spent this time in Amppipal. It’s a small and isolated village in Gorkha District. The roads up to Amppipal are not very good, especially during the monsoon they are terrible – in fact I will eat my hat if the two of us are ever to experience a more bumpy ride than we do here. A jeep is always bringing us, but it is actually possible to take the bus all the way. Landslides caused by heavy rain happen on a daily basis, one should therefore expect some waiting.
Here we spent about one hour to dig out the jeep.
However, when you finally arrive you will be met by a breathtaking scenery of rice fields, plenty of running water, stunning landscapes and above all, white mountains in the horizon.
Above you can see Liglig(1437m.a.s.l), a historical hilltop located in Gorkha. It’s where a royal dynasty got its start and the famous Gurkha soldiers got their name. Entire afternoons have been spent here, we only head back home when the fear of slipping in the dark becomes great enough for us to ignore our already exhausted bodies (from the trip up..), and to abandon todays search for Manaslu.
Don’t be this genius, bring sunscreen(or an umbrella).
The people of Nepal are by far the kindest people I have ever met, and the inhabitants of Amppipal are no different. Already on my first visit I was guided for several hours by kids with no other intention than showing me the area (and maybe learn about the weird white foreigner). Sometimes I will go to the store and chat with the shopkeeper in Nepali. We really don’t understand each other most of the time, but he has the best laughter ever so I don’t care.
We live in the hospitals own guest house, and share it with medical students from Canada and Germany. With them we go hiking, play games, enjoy tasty local food and local – let us call it wine. Didi, our wonderful “older sister” makes sure that we always have enough to eat, and a little more. You will make her grin from ear to ear if you ask for another portion of dal-bhat-tarkari. I guess there are few things that are better for the summer body than living on the top of a hill and eat rice with vegetables the whole day. Seriously though, the Nepali food is crazy good, but usually too spicy! I am already looking forward to get back home so I can show off some of my Nepali cooking skills to friends and family.
So, now to the main reason for why you can find two engineers in the middle of nowhere, Amppipal Community Hospital. The hospital with about 50 beds, was ready in 1969. It covers approximately an area of 200.000 people, and has constantly been influenced by foreigners. Due to the location, some patients have to walk for up to 3 days in order to reach the hospital. Much can happen from the time of knowing that you really need to see a hospital and a 3 days walk. The people here are tough!
In spite of the location, the hospital is very impressive and have good equipment and routines, and a skilled staff.
Based on the reception Christian and I received, the previous engineers staying here must have done a magnificent job. Ganesh, the maintenance guy at the hospital had work for us to do right away.
This is our very own workshop where we bring all the broken hospital equipment.
We have been working on oxygen concentrators, ecg-machines, incubators, nebulizers and much more. Sometimes there are quick fixes, other times there are more complicated faults, and some machines are beyond our ability to repair. We have also witnessed some user errors that require training of the staff and for us to make simple user manuals. Yesterday we actually spent the whole day assembling an infant warmer that we found in the basement. For me it’s not only about repairing the machines, but also about teaching the staff as much as possible. So that the maintenance people can proceed the repairs even after we have left, and so that the nurses and the doctors involved with the equipment are able to use it and maintain it properly.
Troubleshooting an incubator during a power cut.
Last week we wanted to do something not only for the hospital, but for the community of Amppipal. So the the two of us visited the local school for children from the age of 6 to 17. To the school we brought lego. In addition to being the best toy ever created, lego is also an excellent way of learning. Lego bricks turn ideas into real models that can be touched, described, and innovated upon. Without any scheduled meeting we dropped by the principals office. From there it did not take long until we were in charge of two first grade classes. The concept of lego obviously puzzled the children to begin with, however after a short demonstration they quickly got the hang of it and embraced their fantasy. We spent half a day here, and we also ate lunch with the teachers and the principal. Definitely my best day so far in Nepal.
Now the adventure continues, and Christian and I are heading to Bhaktapur hospital, where we will continue our work.