Sometimes we meet people and it is for a reason and sometimes that reason turns out to be a totally different reason – one that you would never expect. Such is with my taxi driver – Ganesh - I have been using him to get around when I need a taxi if he is available. I have gotten to know his wife – the Tang Lady and his little girl. I pay him well – sometimes a little too well however I have grown attached to his family and I am aware of their struggles. The day started of like any other day – with the children and getting them off to school. Hari and I were to go to ENPHO as we had to pick up some more sand as well I had to finish off what I needed to do. However Hari was delayed as he had to take Kimjong to the doctors – so I did not leave until much later. By the time I finished at ENPHO it was getting late and I had to meet some people in Thamel – supper and fun – however by the time I reached Thamel it was too late as we were meeting at a location then deciding where we go for supper. I decided to return to the orphanage. When I returned Bhagabati and Auntie were leaving to go to the doctor. Auntie did not look well – she had been ill the last couple of days. She was wobbly on her feet – so we walked to the local client but all there was was a pharmacist. In this country after a year pharmacist can diagnosis and prescribe medication. I said no we needed a doctor and we would go to the Teaching Hospital. Unsure what to do I was able to find G at his parents place and ask if he could drive us. He agreed right away.
I had experienced this hospital on my last visit as Sam became before ill so at least I was prepared (well sort of) for what it would look like. Ganesh told me go in and go to the front counter to get a chart started. He was going to park the taxi and come in. What the counter was a place where everything happened – and a crowd of people pushing and shoving. I don’t speak the language so certainly was at a disadvantage. Next thing Ganesh was beside me – he just pushed forward and next thing a chart was going to be started. So the nurse (or sister as they call them ) came over – did a quick assessment and determined what test had to be done. We were given a piece of paper. Ganesh tells me now we must go to the pharmacist outside of the hospital to get these things. The things were for blood test and some type of medication. We then need to go and pay for the test – which is in another part of the hospital. We pay for the test as well as to see a doctor and then return to Auntie and Bhagabati. We then need to get a sister to come and draw blood – Ganesh does this. Sister comes over and draws the blood and then gives the vials to us to hold and shake – well at least the ones with lids. We then need to bring them to the lab – which is on the other side of the hospital. We are told it will take an hour – however Ganesh tells me because she is lower caste it will take much longer.
We return to the emergency room – this room and that is what it is – is full of people. The bed Auntie is on has 4 other people. People with all sorts of illness – broken bones – some dying. There is no dignity here – which was apparent when they did an EKG on an elder women and just opened up her dress to attach these ancient EKG things. The place is extremely dirty and not sterile at all. All the equipment is from the 50s – when I look around I think how fortunate I am to be from Canada. I feel I have nothing at all to complaint about – believe me this experience just reinforces this. Family or friends are responsible to bring food and to run to the pharmacist – this is even when you are admitted. And it is pay as you go system. You can’t pay – you go !
Ganesh is so good – he goes and stands by the lab – the lab throws results out of this little opening – and you have to find the name of the person and their results. So you could end up looking at everyone’s results. It does take an hour and half - with Ganesh pressuring them to get the test results for Auntie. After we get the results we need to take them back to a sister who attaches them to a chart. After that at some point a doctor comes around with a sister talking about all the patients – everyone listening. After that is done you need to wait until your name is called. You then need to go to one side of the desk where the Doctor decides what is needed - this is all done without examining a patient and again in front of a crowd. In Auntie’s case they decide to call a specialist – which will take another half hour or so. We decide to get Bhagabati out of there for a bit. So we go outside to a little outdoor restaurant – she has momos and something to drink.
We return and Auntie is seeing the other Doctor – he then starts to ask her a lot of personal questions in front of everyone. After sometime he decides she needs another test – another trip outdoors to get the test and return. So we wait. The Doctor decides she does not to be admitted – however he writes a prescription for 7 different things. Another trip to pick everything up – as the pharmacist starts looking for everything – as there are boxes all over the floor and shelves – he can’t find something and needs to run over somewhere else. He returns and then we are ready to go.
Six hours later we are on the way home. Once we get home I want to pay Ganesh – he is so sweet – he says for you and your orphanage it’s free – they can call me anytime – day or night. I feel so fortunate to have met Ganesh and his family. He is truly a knight in shining amour!!!
I have been extremely fortunate while I have been in Nepal. Raju and Sheba (the driver who took us to Serhket) came on their day off to install the biosand water filters in the orphanage. It was a good thing that a new voluntee , Tim was here – getting the filter up to the kitchen which is on the 3rd floor was a little difficult. When I told him the filters were very heavy he thought I met girl heavy – he quickly realized – no I mean heavy ! But we got it up there – or the boys did. Not only that but Sheba painted them for us. He also returned on another day off to drop of the additional sand we required. Raju also came to the orphanage to say good-bye but as well to drop off a whole bunch of bananas for the children – which they quickly gobbled up.
To Lillian the volunteer who gave me a handful of real Swiss chocolate for my trip home. To the three boys involved in supporting the orphanage for welcoming me into their homes and into their families. I am so grateful – I feel so lucky to have met so many people who without question have gone out of their way to assist and help. People who I hardly know that have shown me so much kindness from their hearts and expecting nothing in return. The majority of these people have little but give so much,
Maybe there is a difference – when at home there is just a sense of taking things for granted – here being out of my element and everything being so unfamiliar I can’t take things for granted. Maybe – just maybe there is a listen to learn here.