• Cosmo Gayo

We will CU at KU

5/17/2019  - 5/20/2019

Namaste from Dhulikhel, Nepal!

We have learned and done so much over the past few days!


On Friday, past Engineers Without Borders Team member Noah Kaiser, the

graduate student from the department of Global Engineering, arrived.

Noah is travelling for his practicum, studying faucets for water

conservation in drinking water systems in rural Nepal. We visited the

Swyambhunath Stupa, known to tourists like us as the “Monkey Temple”.

Bhupal taught us all about Bhuddist and Hindu culture and the

religious signifigance of the various sites. The Monkey Temple has a

great view of all of Katmandu and it was mind-blowing to see just how

expansive the city is.



The view of Katmandu from the Monkey Temple


This Saturday was Buddha’s Birthday, and we heard lots of celebration

in the streets. Bhupal calls it a “holy holy” day because of the birthday and also because it is a Saturday, which is the holy day of the week. As part of the holy day, Nepali police officers and

other members of the community collected trash from the Bagmati river

near our homestay. Working together to clean the river on holy days is

a part of a Nepali government initiative to promote the environment in

Kathmandu.


On Saturday afternoon, we met with three students from Kathmandu

University (KU) who travelled with our team to Kalinchowk in January:

Samita, Anurag, and Prabin. We talked about their experience working

with our team, the potential for a KU Engineers Without Borders Team,

and our team’s summer plans in Kalinchowk and Ilam.

On Sunday the team travelled to Dhulikel. The journey was a welcome

change of scenery from the busy streets of Kathmandu. It is much

quieter and has spectacular views, despite smog from air polluton.

After getting settled in the hotel, we walked with Bhupal and Noah to

the KU hospital. The hospital itself was almost like its own little

town with the sheer number of people there! People from all over Nepal

come to visit this hospital, as it is the best in the country,

prioritizing affordability and a wide range of care. It is only 40

Nepali rupees (less than 40 cents) to be seen for an out-patient

appointment, and they are working to establish an insurance plan to

make the hospital even more accesible.

A woman who worked in the Public Health division of the hospital gave

us a tour of the facilities. She told us that the biggest challenge

for the hospital was a low nurse to patient ratio. The wait times for

people seemed quite long: many people were camped out around the

campus waiting for care for themselves or family members. In order to

clean in-patient rooms, many patients had to be temporarily moved into

the hallways. It felt indescribably intense to walk through the

hospital hallways and see occupied patient beds with people in varying

degrees of illness and various family members sitting on the floor on

foam pads. Seeing the strain on the hospital staff and resources gave

our team a new perspective on the conditions of life in Nepal.

The hospital also inspired a lot of hope, too. Dulikhel hospital is

involved in several community development projects all around Nepal.

They have constructed several outreach facilities and health camps

around Nepal. These facilities offer so more than just patient care.

They also do WASH workshops for school students and a microfinance

program for women in rural communities to promote family agricultural

businesses.

Overall, even though the hospital lacks some of the sanitation and

patient confidentiality elements that we have in the U.S., they also

have an amazing community health model that is more progressive than

most U.S. hospitals. They operate like a health and wellness center,

not just a hospital.


On our second day in Dhulikel, we met with several groups at Kathmandu

University and got to see the campus. KU has multiple campuses across

Nepal, and the Dhulikel campus hosts the schools of science and

engineering. Our team met with Bin Prasad Shresta to discuss the

partnership between KU and CU. Afterwards, we met with a student group

called AMES, a student mechanical engineering society which is working

on building their own EWB team at KU. It was inspiring to see how

excited all the students were to work with us and to become a part of

EWB. The team is dedicated to spending the next few years helping and

learning from us so they can one day be an independent EWB program.



The EWB team with KU faculty and students

Later in the day, Noah presented his project to a mechanical

engineering class, and we toured more of the campus. Our favorite part

was the “Makerspace”. Much like the one at CU, this lab was a space

for students to create and innovate free of the pressures of school.

The professor, Pratisthit Lal Shrestha, had a contagious enthusiasm

for engineering, innovation, and creativity, and reminded us of the

need to bridge the gap between art and engineering. There were many

amazing projects there, such as a program to manufacture prosthetic

limbs for child amputees in Nepal, a 3D printed topographic map of Mt

Everest, and even a cleverly condensed coffee machine made from

up-cycled materials. The students are given freedom to try anything in

the Makerspace, and it has some awesome (if occasionally silly)

results.


KU student showing us a 3D printed prosthetic hand at the KU makerspace

Our mentors Mike and Jennifer Gill arrived that day as well! Our team

enjoyed a fantastic dinner and listened to a cacophony of bird calls

as the night grew dark. I think we will all be masters of bird call

identification by the end of the summer, so if this whole engineering

thing doesn’t work out, we have a good backup plan.

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