Building a future, one bedsheet at a time, with Canadian Red Cross in Nepal

Red Crosser Diana Coulter is sharing updates on how the Canadian Red Cross is providing aid in Nepal after the recent earthquakes. Read her previous dispatches on helping to save lives of mothers and babies, providing a safe play space for children affected by the earthquake, a day at the Canadian Red Cross field hospital and about the mobile clinic helping displaced people.
 
Rajan Tamang and Sukhrob Kurbanov
Rajan Tamang, left, and Sukhrob Kurbanov, right, pictured working together. /Photo courtesy: Diana Coulter
Deki Tamang, left, and Sukhrob Kurbanov, right
Deki Tamang, left, and Sukhrob Kurbanov, right, at the field hospital. /Photo courtesy: Diana Coulter
Babita Thapa left, Canadian Red Cross aid worker Nathalie Auclair
Babita Thapa left, and Canadian Red Cross aid worker Nathalie Auclair inside the field hospital. /Photo courtesy: Diana Coulter
 
Each hospital bedsheet that Deki Tamang washes represents another brick in the new home that she hopes to build for her children one day.
 
Since the Nepal earthquakes reduced her house in Dhunche to rubble, the mother of four has worked full-time at the laundry in the Canadian Red Cross field hospital operating on the site of the original damaged hospital.
 
Before the disaster, Tamang earned about 3,000 Rs (about $30) a month selling homemade wine in the village. Now, at the hospital laundry, she takes home about ten times more while learning to work on a large team, follow hospital protocols and many other new skills.
 
“My family is living in a tent now, but I want to build a new concrete house that is strong but more expensive,” said Tamang. “That is why I am doing this job, learning many things, and working with foreigners for the first time. I am feeling happier now.”
 
Tamang is one of dozens of Dhunche residents working with the Canadian and other Red Cross society aid workers at the field hospital. The Canadian Red Cross facility, arranged in large white tents above the village, is helping provide health services, including maternal and surgical procedures, to people in the mountainous district of Resuwa that stretches north to the Tibetan border.
 
Employing, training and building the capacity of local people is always an essential role of the Red Cross, says Sukhrob Kurbanov, a Canadian Red Cross administrative worker deployed to Dhunche.
 
Kurbanov, a 39-year-old from Gatineau, Quebec, knows first-hand how helpful Red Cross experience can be. At 18, he first worked with Red Cross after civil war tore apart his native land of Tajikistan. He helped distribute aid at relief camps in Tajikistan before progressing through a series of jobs with humanitarian organizations and immigrating to Canada in 2011.
 
Now, as a Canadian Red Cross aid worker, part of Kurbanov’s role is to help organize and supervise staff referred by the local branch of the Nepal Red Cross Society.
 
“I remember very well how this path can go,” he says. “That’s why it’s very important to me. I’m really proud to see many people here developing skills, so they can progress and work independently. Also, we hope that if the Nepal Red Cross needs people in future, they could contribute there, as well.”
 
Babita Thapa, 23, said her job as an administration assistant at the hospital is helping provide income to her parents and two younger sisters. Previously, she worked on a local radio show but is now handling expense reports, invoices and receipts for the field hospital. She hopes to use her experience and earnings to attend nursing college in Kathmandu.
 
“I’ve never done this work before,” says Thapa. “But I have gained a lot of knowledge now,” said Thapa.
 
Diness Kumar Tamang, the Nepal Red Cross Society’s local chapter treasurer, said cooperation between his Society and Canadian Red Cross has been good for all.
 
“Together, we are helping people get work, learn new skills and earn good money, and we are improving the visibility of Red Cross here. Hopefully, they will volunteer with us in future, too.”
 
Rajan Tamang, 21, a local staff member recently promoted to supervisor at the Canadian field hospital, is also the primary income earner for his family of six. His parents are local farmers but some day Tamang wants to be a technician and own a home.
 
“This job is helping my family. It is very good for all of us.”
 
Canadians are encouraged to donate to the Nepal Region Earthquake Fund. 
 
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