Friday, 21 November 2008

My Last Day As A Volunteer

Well, I have survived my time here in Nepal.,and in flying colours,I think!
The day started with me feeling shattered .I slept fitfully last night because the loud noises in the distance were continuing till deep in the night.I was fantasysing the crowds breaking down the wrought iron gate and coming in to attack us in the orphanage. Silly ideas with an overactive mind....

In the absence of any news on telly, we decided that things must be back to normal. So I set out a little earlier just before 9 o'clock. Everything appeared to be back to normal with the usual chaotic rush hour traffic . I was happy that I could finish my last day in the way that I have started. Ten minutes into my walk, suddenly I saw a few vans turned sharply and stopped in the middle of the road, blocking the traffic coming from both directions. I noticed the shopkeepers started to pull their shutters down hurriedly. Then a lot of young men started to run towards the junction where I was. I was halfway between home and the Teku hospital. Instinctively, I started to run in the opposite direction to the crowd, towards the hospital. I thought if I get injured, at least I will have some medical care. Joking only , haha .

That was the first time that I felt fear in Nepal. I saw loads of people being deposited by coaches and vans , obviously to join the demonstration further up the road. My half an hour walk to the hospital took me only 15 minutes. I ran like clappers. It was a record time. Admittedy, many of the young men joining the protest were quite well dressed. They appeared to be the local youths, and some students . Apparently, the Nepali people are trying to get the Maoist government to have a round table meeting . They are trying to thrash through the major conflicting issues with regards to the Maoist culture(communist) integrating with the somewhat feudal culture of the majority of the Nepali people. The demonstration is a show of strength, and not threat by the Nepali people asking the government to listen to them.

Thankfully,I reached the hospital without any incident. It was a great relief .I silently thanked the Hindu and Buddhist Superior Beings for looking after my welfare. Phew !! And I am not an atheist after all

I did not do much work today.I only helped with the monthly Stats Return. It is amazing the amount of manual counts the poor nurses have to do each day/ week /month. And then they all have to tally with the stock take to the last tablet. I have tentatively made suggestions to the Medical Director that they should computerise the data and information collected to reduce the amount of duplication which is being repeated in 6 different books at any one time.

At 12.30, I was invited to the hospital conference room , for a formal presentation by the Hospital Director. All the 'hoi polloy (? spelling ) were there .The Director and the senior hospital staff wanted to show their appreciation of the donations I brought with me. It has made the purchase of the resuscitation equipments a reality.The only thing which is yet to be delivered is the trolley, upon which all the resuscitaion equipments will sit. I have to say I did not expect this formal bit. And it is not my style to stand in front ot staff to spout. I did it reluctantly because all you donors out there deserve a big hand. I was presented with a large framed 'Certificate of Appreciation' (they forgot that I have to fly) which you will see when you come to tea in the new year

I was thanked and blessed with a ' Tika ', a red dot on my forehead by the director. I was then given a garland of very fragant orange ( ?marigold ) and purple flowers. Then the variuos senior staff came forward and blessed me again with additional Tika. This was repeated 6/7 times, until my forehead was caked thickly in Tika. I was very proud of my Tika. I walked home in full sight of the locals. I did notice a few second looks on my forehead as I ambled home. Nice...

In the last few days, I have to turn down several invitations to lunch /tea /dinner by various medical staff. I recognised that I have to manage their expectations. I have told everyone I met that I will do my best to help , but I am not in a position to promise anything

My speech of thanks went like this
'Namaste !
It is a privilege for me to be here.Thank you for invitimg me to the presentation.I just want to say that its the generosity of my friends and colleagues in UK and Malaysia which has made this possible. I am only the messenger. I am pleased that the equipment purchased will help to save lives in the future.
I would like to pay tribute to all the staff especially the nurses and doctors who have helped to make my time at the hospital a very welcomed and pleasant one. A special thank you to Nani. Mohan and Gyani, the 3 nurses in the 'ART' clinic.They have made my 2 weeks with them very special and worthwhile. I have learnt a lot from you .So, thank you'

I have mixed feelings about finishing my time here.I will be happy to continue to work at the HIV/ Aids clinic, but I will not be sorry to leave the chaotic traffic in Kathmandu. I will be tying up the loose ends at the orphanage as well tomorrow. and John will join me here on sunday. I shall have a spot of 5* luxury for a week. Aaah, bisto.........

So what happens now ? I can hear you asking the question. Well, I will take stock of what I have learnt here. There are alot of work to do still. However, I will post further blogs once things are clear for me .If anyone of you is interested in supporting me in whatever way, I would love to hear from you with your ideas.

Till then, my heartfelt thanks for the very generous support you have given me. And the very encouraging comments I have received while I have been blogging.It is the first time I have learnt to blog..It has been an interesting journey for me too. I discovered that I can be creative (I know Gill has told me this before )

Bye for now and thank you

Lai See from Kathmandu 22/11/2008

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