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.
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
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
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.
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)
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.