Right now I’m sitting at a coffee shop waiting for my tuna sandwich and cafe latte. In a few hours I will be flying to Hong Kong where I will stay the next week. I look forward to a week that will be very different from my last six weeks in Nepal and probably also from the last year in Denmark. I will be on vacation doing absolutely nothing! It’ll be great!
Friday we first said our goodbyes to our wonderful host family and later to our friends at the hospital. When we hugged Rameesh (one of the technicians) his eyes got all teared up. Hugging is actually not an acceptable thing in the Nepali culture, or it of course depends on the person and how close you are, but both Sara and I decided to give all the technicians hugs, which ended in a lot of awkwardness.
I’m amazed by how good a relationship we got with the maintenance staff in this short time period, especially because of the huge language barrier. It’s been amazing working with them and I kind of promised to visit when I come back to Nepal again. Which I hope I can keep.
Working in a developing world and being out of my comfort zone for six weeks has been challenging, frustrating, interesting, educational but most of all it has been amazing. I’ve had my ups and downs and sometimes I felt that I had more downs than ups, but in the end looking back at it now, it has been a great adventure that I would not have been without.
We managed to fix 66% of the 53 equipment we looked at, but the thing I find the most important is all the social relationships we have established at the hospital. Trust is an important thing anywhere you go and building up the trust between us and the hospital staff has been difficult, but we managed and have a really good network which hopefully will be useful for the next volunteers coming to Bharatpur District Hospital.
The person that affected me the most has been Dr. Rameesh, the surgeon in charge of the OT. Last week we interviewed him to get a better understanding of the equipment at his department and which new technology he would like to have. To every question he would just answer: “We work with what the government gives us…but we manage.” Every sentence always ended with “but we manage”. He has been working at the hospital as a surgeon for 15 years and even though I have never seen him operate I believe that he is an excellent surgeon. He is a very passionated man. He would just open up biomedical equipment without having any electrical training at all. He could easily get a very well paid job in Kathmandu with the best biomedical equipment and a clean OT, but he is in Bharatpur helping the poorest people in the district and this is what changed the way I saw the hospital. For a long time I had distanced myself from the hospital, the patients and the staff, but after this interview I started to respect the place. We need more Dr. Rameesh’s.
It’s incredible how fast the last six weeks has passed by. I’ve learnt so much, not only about the biomedical equipment, but actually mostly about cooperating with people whose way of approaching life and mindsets and are so different from mine. I’ve learnt that if we want to work together the culture- and especially language barrier is not a problem. We are all human beings that do not need language to communicate and become good friends. Speaking helps a lot and makes the process much faster, but if you truly want to understand the person in front of you the language will not be a problem.
This trip definitely have had an impact on how I will approach different cultures and cooperate with people in the future. I have definitely become a more patient person. Patience in Nepal is very important since delays and unreliable people are common problems, compared to Denmark where you would apologize for being five minutes late.
It’s been a real adventure and I’m eternally grateful for everyone I have met. I hope we’ll see each other again.
Saving equipment, saves lives!