On Sunday December 6th, Dr. Beels and his wife were kind enough to welcome the Nepal team into their home for a traditional Nepalese meal prepared by Dr. Beels himself. Living with them are a student from Nepal, studying at Cornerstone University and a refugee from Sri Lanka.
After a delicious meal of rice, lentils and mixed vegetables (as well as some chili sauce to make things a bit spicier for those willing to try it!), we enjoyed some spiced tea with milk and sugar, another Nepalese tradition.
During tea time, we convened for a quick meeting to discuss the current situation in Nepal, a few last minute details about packing and things to know about our trip in general.
Here is an overview of the meeting:
The current situation in Nepal: Nepal has been deliberating a constitution for nearly 8 years, and this year they finally got one, but protests started around the time of the adoption of the new constitution. The Madeshis in the south of Nepal weren’t happy because they fear that the new constitution will lead to under representation in the parliament. India, which identifies with the minority group, has initiated an unofficial blockade of the border.
India has claimed that they closed the border with Nepal to keep the Indian truck drivers safe, but instead it appears as if they are trying to strangle Nepal. Since Nepal is landlocked, it is completely dependent on India for petroleum, diesel, cooking gas, medicine and other essentials. The shortage of fuel has therefore created incredible hardship for the ordinary population. Private transportation is nearly nonexistent at this time and only limited public transportation is available at this time. The citizens have to stand in line for two to three days to get gasoline, and when you finally reach the front, you are rationed only 10 L (about 2.5 gallons).
So the question for our group is, although it is easy to get into Nepal, will we be able to travel to Tansen when we get there? Dr. Beels said the travel agent has assured us that he will be able to get us to Tansen by a private coach, and then on our way back to Kathmandu from Pokhara.
Because of transportation and petrol issues, it has been difficult for the locals to get to the Tansen hospital. The hospital is also running out of medication. Someone was sent from the hospital to India to buy medicines, but was told that the Nepalese government could supply the medicine knowing very well that India has halted medication sales to Nepal.
Prayer Needs: Because of all of these problems, Nepal and its current political situation, as well as the hospital in Tansen are in dire need of our prayers. Pray for the politicians in both Nepal and India that they may be able to meet common ground and resolve this crisis, which will alleviate the suffering of the poor. Pray for the hospitals as they make health care decisions for the people at the hospitals and those who need to get to hospitals. Pray for us as we make preparations for travel.
We also talked about packing in light of the situation in Nepal. Dr. Beels recommended bringing a backpack in our luggage that will be helpful in the worst-case-scenario that we have difficulty arranging for motorized transport and we have to walk significant distances. We do not think this will happen, but being prepared is better.
We will also be taking along with us several medical supplies to the hospital (including a defibrillator). The medical supplies will be left at the United Missions Hospital headquarters in Kathmandu and they will get to the hospital at some point.
Each student was asked to bring along two water bottles, so that we will have a full days worth of drinking water.