05.17.2012 39 °C
Each and every day, we wake to a sweltering heat. Each and every day, the power runs out and the air conditioner fails to work. The stream of rusty bikes flow back and forth and locals linger on their doorsteps while children carelessly play. The empty hotel's restaurant offers only one item on the breakfast menu, serves no one but us and we eat obediently. But this is what we expected. This is Nepal. However, when the breakfast (consisting of a mashed potato lump and an tomato onion omlette) starts serving a tomato onion omlette without the tomatoes and onions and no potato lump, things are turning for the worse. The strike continues, and stories of isolated tourists consistently increase, more so everyday. All the hurdles have been set, and we have done our best to race to the finish line. All schools, stores and roads are closed to us. The hospital lacks their regular flood of patients and a need for help (especially with such competent staff). We are left with nothing to do but wait in our hotel room and pass the time and the strike certainly does not seem like it will be going away anytime soon. If the heat doesnt kill us, surely boredom will.
After much debate and deliberation, we have decided to end our mission in Nepal.
We will be departing as soon as possible.
Although things didn't go quite as planned, we have still managed to make the absolute most of this trip. In fact, we have managed to donate to 2 orphanages and 7 schools, all of which have promised that our contributions will bring huge change to each of their institutions. We have met some very trusting and selfless people along the way, and in doing so have entrusted them to finish our mission and help continue to make a difference once the strikes are over. Mr Hari, a camera shy pediatric optometrist, has been an essential coordinator on our mission and has spent a large part of every day helping us reach various schools. Esteemed and respected by everyone at the LEI, he has offered to help us buy and donate $400 dollars worth of equipment each to two institutions:
The first is an orphanage called Boudhi Apanga School in a northern town called Bhutwal run by a single widow. The widow has made it her cause to house 45 children ... all by herself. Our donation will go towards food, sports equipment and anything else she feels neccessary. Frankly, I wouldn't complain if she spent it on a day at the spa; lord knows she needs it.
The second is Manigram Blind School, a remote blind school caught between the mountains and plains in Nepal, just to the west of Bharatpur. Our contribution will help go towards braille books, and the building of another classroom.
We have also decided to donate another $1000 dollars to Guru Tashi who runs an orphanage in Kathmandu, and will use it as a base fund to start his own school. The school will be available to those who cannot afford to pay school fees.
Lastly, we have decided to also donate a very large amount to the LEI. Although they are considered a very wealthy institution in Nepal, we feel that a new phaco machine would help the most people. To give you an idea, the city of Calgary's ophthalmologists combined perform 12 500 cataracts per year. This single institution does over 32 000 .
Our next stop would have been Bharatpur, a small town several hours east of Bhairahawa, but it has become a region of intense political tension. With very few flights out of the small town, traveling there (assuming we could even get there) is a sure way to get ourselves trapped as the roads are completely shut down. We were all very excited to go. As luck would have it, we had all of our school supplies that we brought over shipped to the town upon our arrival the first day, courtesy of Mr. Kandel and the great people at SEVA. Mr. Kandel has been helping us coordinate our trip for the last six months, and will no doubt put the school supplies to good use. We have also shipped a large majority of the viscoelastic and intraocular lenses kindly donated by Bausch & Lombe to Bharatpur. The little eye institute in Bharatpur is in dire need of supplies, and will no doubt make a huge difference.
Our experience in Nepal has been both trying and greatly rewarding but now it is time for us to leave. But where? Not home, surely ... not yet.
Perhaps the next time I write, it will be in another part of the world. Who knows. Preferably somewhere that serves more than just omlettes. We are all very sick of omlettes.