The real frontliners in Nepal’s coronavirus fight are people like Arun Sainju, Rajesh Gainju of the volunteer group RNA-16 who have been helping out for the past two months at Bhaktapur Hospital because no one else would.
Since when the lockdown began on 24 March, the thirty-something Sainju and Gainju with other members of the team have been living in a tent inside the Bhaktapur Hospital premises in case they themselves are carriers of the virus.
They have been helping people coming in for tests, and transferring their swab samples to Kathmandu. They spend most days in their personal protection gowns and masks, transporting patients to hospital or disinfecting their homes.
“I was inspired to become a volunteer after I failed to save a 11-year-old girl who had drowned,” recalls Arun Sainju. “From that day on, I decided to be trained to work in emergency situations.”
The training came handy immediately when the earthquake struck five years ago, destroying a large part of Bhaktapur, killing at least 300 residents and destroying many homes. Arun and Rajesh worked shoulder to shoulder with the Nepal Army teams to dig survivors out of the rubble and take them to hospital.