When I write this, it is about one hour since my partner, Thas, and I packed up our toolbox one final time. Since then I have walked the two minutes long way from Amppipal community hospital to the hospital guest house, filled in the last equipment we looked at into our “Work Summary”, stressed a bit about the fact that I should have signed and scanned a contract for renting a place to stay in Dublin without proper internet connection nor a scanner, looked into space thinking about how fast these last four weeks at Nepali hospitals, six weeks in Nepal and nine weeks since I left Norway, have passed and walked down to one of the two small shops near the hospital to buy one last batch of chocolate cookies.
Let me tell you about my weeks at hospitals in the district Gorkha.
Wednesday the 10th of July Thas and I arrived at Gorkha district hospital. We stayed with a Nepali family consisting of aamaa, baabaa, a very talkative and deaf grandfather and the dog Gopi. None of them speak English, but with some Nepali phrases and other family members dropping by and occasionally staying in the house, communication was never really a problem. They were all so welcoming and already on day three we were invited to a wedding, and at the wedding we were invited to a birthday party.
Gorkha District Hospital is a medium sized hospital with general and maternity ward, OPD, X-ray, emergency, health planning, dental care and operation theatre. We worked at the hospital for three and a half weeks in total and shared workspace with the maintenance guy Durga Dai(Dai is brother/sir in Nepali). And in the same building the storage manager and our best friend at the hospital, Moti Dai, also had his office. In fact the storage building seem to be the common meeting place where people more than occasionally sit and have a break.
Already on our first day of work we had, thanks to the last years participants good work, equipment to be fixed on our desk. Hurraay!! However they had also just thrown out around 100 pieces of broken equipment, because they were just lying around and couldn’t be fixed. This coloured our stay, and even though we had a lot to do at first, we did almost only encounter equipment that either needed new batteries, power supply isolation or other “easy” fixes, and after a bit more than two weeks we realised we didn’t really have much more to repair.
As EWH participants one should also do a secondary project, besides fixing broken equipment, that we think the hospital needs. Thas and I decided that we could doa big secondary project, as we were out of equipment, and after some research we decided to help out in emergency. We ended up using a full week on painting and having carpenters set up new partitions dividing the emergency room into general room, staff room and trauma room.
Then after three and a half week it was time to say goodbye to beautiful Gorkha village, aamaa’s delicious Dhaal bhaat, our daily “Namaste” to the man who made baskets on his front porch, the banana lady that often gave us an extra banana and all the friendly people at the hospital. We packed our bags and headed for Amppipal village and our second hospital.
Compared to Gorkha village there are many contrasts. The most apparent ones are maybe these two:
Amppipal is small – very small and the closest place to buy spare parts is one and a half hour away and with only five days at hand, going there was not really an option, especially not with landslides blocking the hospital from both sides
The fixes were more complex – This hospital receives a lot of donations from countries like Germany and the US. This means they have a lot of complicated machines. They also have a very good maintenance guy, Ganesh, who repairs all defaults that are not too difficult.
But as well as Gorkha, Amppipal is very beautiful, the people are friendly and dhal bhaat is served every day.
Tomorrow we leave Amppipal – either by jeep or by foot, depending on the weather – and head back for a final conference in Kathmandu. Then we will be able to share our experiences with the other participants, as well as hear about theirs. It is with a bit of mixed feelings I’m thinking about going home. On one side I have been away for along time, and I really want to go home, but on the other side Nepal is such a beautiful country with so much more I want to see. At least I have one more week left after the program ends on Sunday. Marie, Maria, Ingvild, Synnøve and I are going to trek Poon Hill circuit before we go home.