Across the United States in Nebraska, cardiologist Khagendra Dahal recalls long periods of self-isolation and the difficulty explaining to his young children why he was staying separately.
“Even after being vaccinated, we will still need to continue to wear our protective gear because it is not known whether we are transmitters of the virus even if we ourselves are safe,” Dahal says.
Another country with a sizeable Nepali caregiver population is Israel, and it has started a massive vaccine campaign for health workers, those over 60 and at high risk. Nepali caregivers are considered frontline workers.
Nischal Shrestha (pictured above) has been living in Israel for the last 11 years, and takes care of a 91-year-old woman who she took to the hospital to vaccinate last week.
“I was not expecting to be given the shot because we were told that the priority would be health workers and the elderly. But my employer got the hospital to also get me immunised,” says Shrestha, who says her arm and body ached for a day or two, but she is fine now.
Deepika Bhusal also works as a live-in caregiver for an elderly couple in Israel. Her employers got their first doses of the vaccine on 25 December, and there was much celebration in the house.
“I trust the health system here. Even the Prime Minister went on live television to take his first shot publicly,” says Bhusal, who is getting her own shot on new year’s day.
“We live in the same house so compared to elderly care institutes or live-out care workers, we were in a much safer position,” Bhusal explains. “But we had to go outdoors often for therapy or exercise, or to shop, so there was always a risk,” she adds.
The UAE is another popular destination for Nepali workers, and the first country to approve the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine which is said to be 86% effective after trials around the world. The UAE is providing the vaccines free to residents and citizens.