strife in the land of peace

An email I sent a friend back in 2006

The strike has been on full swing. Yesterday was the fourth and supposedly the final day. Roy has been itching to defy the strike and go into Kathmandu. Yesterday he got his chance when a patient had to be transferred to a KTM hospital. He rode in the ambulance and saw firsthand the chaos on the streets—burned tires, strewn bricks, destroyed vehicles, angry mobs, etc, etc.

All day, from my living room window I could see demonstrators walking to Dhulikhel from Banepa. Following them were police with tear gas. Every now and then there’s been an explosion and fumes rising up—another vehicle being set on fire! Absolutely no vehicles allowed on the road except for dire emergencies.

At about 3pm, we heard gun shots. A few minutes later our ambulance was called into Banepa. Went there and picked up three gun shot victims. One arrived dead, the other went if for surgery, the third we couldn’t take care of and had to be transferred to Kathmandu. But the problem was that our ambulance was stoned just trying to get the victims from Banepa to the hospital and attempting to go into Kathmandu was too dangerous. Roy was ready to go, but there was a very emotional mob outside the hospital trying to get in and there wasn’t anyone else at Scheer to be forceful enough so he had to stay put and keep the crowd out of the campus. Dr. Silas offered to ride in. [Since yesterday Roy, Silas, and Stuart (Director of Support Services from Australia) have been taking turns riding in the ambulance.]

Meanwhile, Roy and his hickory axe handle stood guard at the hospital gate–It was not that the crowd was angry at Scheer; the Nepali are generally a very emotional people and when they get that way they usually don’t think rationally–There were about 500 people outside and they ALL wanted to come in to check on the wounded. When we wouldn’t allow that they lost what little rationale they had!

Bricks were thrown into the hospital compound, missing Stuart and Eunice by inches, reporters seeking refuge in our compound which agitated the mob even more.

When we called the police to come up the hill and calm the crowd, not one turned up!! A curfew was enforced beginning 5 pm today. At about 6pm things began to calm down.

As scary as all this sounds, everything will be back to normal shortly. We’ve been through this so many times! We are fortunately to always be alerted of when it’s going to be a bad one–and that gives us time to prepare and be ready. The same was true with this strike. We were told by our “sources” what to expect about a month ahead.

Today continues to be curfewed–and there’s an air of apprehension. Employees could not go home last time, no room at the hospital, food is running low, nursing students feel unsafe in their dorm, the wounded keep being brought to the hospital–yet the newspapers only report that three have died so far. We know of many right here in our neighborhood.

Sky thought it was all better than watching TV!


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