During my apprenticeship as a medical practice assistant, I knew that at the end of this time I wanted to put into practice what I had learned. Not here in beautiful Switzerland, but in a country where real help is needed.
In the beginning, I thought about Africa or South America, until one day my boss came to me and told me that he had a contact in Nepal and asked there if they needed my help. And so, one thing followed the other. Rico (my boss) wrote an email to Tirtha Thapa. This forwarded his email to Kapil Sharma. And Kapil introduced me to Yamuna. The senior nurse at HDCS Rukum Hospital.
And so, my adventure started slowly. I was overwhelmed with information beforehand about the hospital in Rukum. Nevertheless, I was looking forward to getting my own picture of this hospital in a remote location in Nepal.
Day X is coming. It is difficult for me to say goodbye to my friends and family, and yet I am very happy about this upcoming trip.
When I arrived in Nepal, I was greeted by a co-worker of the HDCS office. He was standing at the airport with a blackboard in his hand, written with capital letters HDCS. I stretch my hand and thank him for picking up at the airport. Thus, the first Nepali rule learned. Hands are not shaken but only put together. “Namaste” was my first word in Nepali.
The drive from the airport to the HDCS head office was a complete sensory overload. The colorfully dressed people, the constant honking and horns of cars, mopeds and the buses. The smoke over the roofs. A totally new experience for me.
Once in the office, I have to move into my room for one night. Then I met Sudip, who booked the flight with me to Rukum. Then I went to dinner with him and then to bed.
My day starts early in the morning. I was escorted back to the airport and dropped off there. Now I have to wait until the domestic flight to Nepalgunj. In Nepalgunj, the climate is completely different from that in Kathmandu. There I was picked up by a taxi driver and now the six-hour journey into the heart of Nepal starts. We drove through nature reserves, over unfinished bridges, past small villages and many fields. Until we arrived on a hill by the river. On the other side, you could already see the hospital. Now I have to get out, put on my backpack and go down the mountain, over a suspension bridge, and up the mountain again. I was accompanied by a guard from the hospital who greeted me warmly with a «Namaste» and a flower chain.
So, I have arrived at my home for the next three months. The guard accompanies me to my room. There I was received by Dil, who took me on a tour of the hospital. So, I finally get to know Yamuna, a kind-hearted woman who has her job fully under control. I also get to know Brenda, who is an American midwife who passes on her knowledge to the nurses.
For me, it now means to go to bed, until dinner.
The dinner was a highlight, not only for me but for the whole hospital staff. It was MOMO-Party Time. So, all the doctors, who live in the same house as me, and many other Co-Workers, gather in the guest house. It was a very colorful evening and I was among them.
The first two days I had the honor of getting to know Dr. Elke from Germany. Thanks to her, I found my way around very well afterward.
On the second day in the hospital, I was able to witness my first birth. Or rather, normal birth and a cesarean section. Both were a totally new experience for me. It’s indescribable to see the joy on a mother’s face when she can look at her child. The relatives were also very happy. Over the next few months, I realize that not every woman takes pleasure in her child, especially if the firstborn is a girl.
In the first two weeks, I was able to look around in the hospital. I was able to look into areas like surgery, midwife, laboratory, and inpatients. All areas in which I need additional training in Switzerland.
I enjoyed every minute in the hospital and also outside of the hospital. The nature around the hospital is so diverse, colorful and overwhelming. Fortunately, I had Brenda, who told me a lot about the culture, who took me for an evening walk and many other experiences.
So one day passed faster than the other. Patients come and go; some have to stay. One emergency at another, one operation at the other, and yet everyone is seen with a friendly smile on their faces. Sometimes you could hear a nurse or two writing to the patient. Also, a totally new experience for me, with which you can resign yourself after a certain time.
One day I come back from work and am on my way to my room to meet a doctor I have never seen before. It’s Yukiko, from Japan, who comes to the hospital for a month to help. Now we are in a pack of three.
We have planned a trip for a Saturday. We wanted to go looking for coffee trees with a friend of Brenda’s. So, we got to know Dillon, who realizes some projects in Nepal for the Peace Corps. Planting trees is one of them. So, Dillon came to us on Saturday. We bake pancakes together, pack our backpacks and sun hats, and set off. We had no idea where we would find a coffee tree, so we started off towards the “center”. We had a lot of fun that day, even found a coffee tree and a farm with turkeys. What remains is a sunburn on my face and a stomachache with laughter.
Time flies here very quickly. You always have something to do and you can always find someone who can teach you one or the other Nepalese word. So, it happens that my first month is over. We had Barbeque together, sat by the fire and sang songs, celebrated a birthday, said goodbye to a doctor, ate together Khir (a kind of rice pudding), helped many children to see the light of the world, got to know more Japanese doctors and enjoyed nature.
One evening Caleb, the chief doctor, came to me and told me that a German social worker was coming over. And that’s how I met Mona. In her, I found a good friend with whom I can have lots of great conversations and also have a lot of experience. I went to the Community with her. I saw villages outside the hospital, got a view of local houses, traveled unfinished streets with the moped or the tuck-tuck. Put a smile on the face of children and adults by visiting them because they are physically disabled to come to the hospital. Have visited mother-child groups and measured and weighed the newborn babies with the mothers, vaccinated the pregnant women, measured blood pressure and examined the baby bump. We visited schools, examined the children and trained them on how to properly brush their teeth.
I miss the time in the hospital very much. I miss the community, the eating together (even if it’s always Dal-bhat-tarkari), bathing in the river (even if it’s cold), crouching together in the evening, playing the guitar and singing in a small group (even if I didn’t understand anything). I miss playing football with the doctors, the landscape, the calm and the time in general there. Dherai Dhanyabad (Thank you very much) for the time you have given me, to welcome me to your home. I have left part of my heart with you and am looking forward to seeing you again. Mero tapai haru sanga ramro samaya bityo 😀 (I had a good time with you). Stay blessed.