Chapagaun's Charm


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Asia » Nepal » Patan
May 16th 2008
Published: May 17th 2008
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Namaste! And greetings from Chapagaun. I’ve been here a week now, and I quite like my new home. I have a great host family - Ram (the director of the health centre), his wife Rupa, his parents, and his two children, Samyak and Swoyam. There’s another volunteer, named Barbara, who’s living here as well.

They have a nice, modern house, complete with electricity (and only ten hours of power cuts a week!), hot water (when there’s enough sun for the solar power to work), cable TV (with hilarious Bollywood movies and Hindi music videos), and two bathrooms. Rupa and the grandmother are quite good cooks, thankfully. I was a bit worried when I read that the Nepali diet is daal bhat (rice and lentils) twice a day, every day. Our family supplements this with a wide array of curried vegetables, like potatoes, pumpkin, zucchini, green beans, leeks, and onions. They also eat meat once a week (so I ate some water buffalo in your honor, Katie), and I’ve had some yogurt, homemade Newari pasta, mushroom soup, and a Newari specialty called beaten rice (it looks and tastes like uncooked oatmeal, but is apparently rich in vitamin B-12). The grandmother has even made me popcorn, some sort of sweet, ball o’ dough dessert, and she’s always giving me peaches (which are very small, have green flesh, and taste more like nectarines). This is a huge step up in the world for me after Senegal!

I’m spending my time at the Primary Health Care and Resource Centre in Chapagaun. It’s a health centre and clinic that is not government-run. Therefore, the health post survives purely on donations and the small amount of money they generate from the insurance program they offer and the very small fees they charge for services. They can’t afford to pay many staff members, so there is only one doctor, a few health assistants, three nurses, and a director (who is also a paramedic). They need nursing students, interns, and volunteers to pick up the slack.

And that’s where I come in. I’ve been doing a little bit of everything. I helped the nursing students prepare a community health exhibition. I weighed babies and charted their growth, determined which ones needed which immunizations, and wrote prescriptions for paracetamol. I spent three days at Shree Bageshwary Primary School, one of which I was working all alone compiling hygiene profiles for the students. Another day was spent weighing and measuring the students, and then yesterday, the doctors did a physical examination and the nursing students taught some lessons on brushing teeth and proper nutrition.

The Nepali calendar is quite different from our own, and they just celebrated their New Year on April 13th. Therefore, I’m currently analyzing end-of-the-Nepali-year data about the health clinic. Once I finish my statistics, I’ll be writing a report on the info. I’m also planning on writing my own survey, probably focusing on family planning.

Outside the health post, life is pretty slow in Chapagaun. There is one internet café with the slowest computers and internet known to mankind. They’re still running on dial-up and waiting for the upgrade to fiber optic dial-up. There are a bunch of tiny little shops, selling all varieties of things, some shrines scattered along the side of the road, and lots of chickens, ducks and goats wandering around. There is also a lot of truck traffic moving along the main road, and the amount of dust and pollution is insane. You have to always carry a handkerchief or scarf to cover your face if you ever want to breathe whilst walking along the road. Most things are closed during the early afternoon, and everything shuts down around sunset (7pm). I’ve been getting a lot of reading done, and I’ve caught up on all the children’s movies I’ve missed in the past three years (my little brothers love to watch the same few movies over and over again).

But don’t think I’ve been deprived of touristy things out here in the region of Lalitpur. Oh no, quite the contrary! We visited a leprosy hospital with the nursing students, and we paid a visit to a memorial garden for a Pakistan International Airline crash that occurred nearby about fifteen years ago. I also spent my first free Saturday trying to find the Santaneshwor Temple. Rupa told me all I had to do was walk over two hills and I’d find it. Ram drew me a map with a few curved and straight lines. I had to ask about eight people how to get there, though, once I ran out of lines to follow on the map. Most just pointed to a distant hill, apparently assuming I knew which road or path led there. I finally got there, hiked up several hundred steps to see a fairly ugly temple. At least the view was amazing. The pictures I’ve taken of the Kathmandu Valley just don’t do it justice.

Plus, there are the oh-so-lovely day-to-day distractions. Just the other day, in fact, I had a thirty minute standoff with a humongous spider in my bedroom. It was absolutely massive, like an obese Daddy longlegs on steroids, and it didn’t listen to my pleas to just leave my room and go into someone else’s. When it finally made its way down from the ceiling towards my bed, I tried throwing my Sudoku book at it, but that only made it run (at lightning speed) across my wall. The grandmother overheard the battle and came to my rescue with a broom, but only after I had already killed the huge arachnid.

As always, please leave me comments, write me messages, or send me emails. I love feeling like I’m sort of in touch with what is going on on the other side of the world, and I promise I’ll get back to you as soon as the internet in Nepal allows. 😊



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17th May 2008

Haha yay! I'm glad you get to eat all the exotic animals I don't get to! PS those boys you met in the photo are GANGSTA yo
17th May 2008

Thoughts from Mom
Hello Kate, You don't stick out quite as much as you did in Senegal. The scenery is beautiful. Try to get more pictures with you in them Love, Mom
17th May 2008

School picture
How did you get the entire school to pose for a picture? Was it school picture day? You also look great in the picture from the hospital. Love you!
29th November 2009

good
aafno gaun herda khusi lagyo and thanks to the publisher
21st April 2011
boys in Chapagaun

boyz in chapagaun
some unseen pictures of chapagaun
13th November 2011

School
Very interesting. I too spent time in Chapaguan teaching at a school by the health centre. The people are wonderfully friendly, I would recomend people to volunteer there.
13th November 2011
boys in Chapagaun

this is my brather
24th May 2012

Really beautiful photos
Hi Greetings from Nepal I am Roshi Singh. I am planning to do a research in Insurance scheme of Chapagaun Insurance program. As i was searching relevant literature for my research i got to see this blog. its really good and the photos are great. i loved them.

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