Following the conclusion of our meeting with various organizations in Kathmandu, our team then split off into two groups, with a four-person team leaving to negotiate the Dr. Car project with the Phul Kumari Mahato Memorial Hospital (PKMMH) in Siraha, located in the southern plains of Nepal. Siraha is one of the least developed regions in Nepal and was greatly affected by the earthquake in 2015, and the main concern that we had for the community’s well-being was the availability to affordable medical services, leading to the inception of the Dr. Car project. After almost two years of planning, fundraising and negotiation, our project finally secured a deal with the Japanese government and was ready to launch the car in Nepal; however, looking back to our vision of sustainability, we had to settle some questions regarding the long-term usage and maintenance of the Dr. Car by the hospital.
The road to the hospital was long and arduous – a nearly seven hour drive from Kathmandu through the narrow, curving mountain roads overseeing cliffs of thousands of meters high. After descending from the hilltops, we were met with the more Indianized version of Nepal, a stark contrast to what we have seen in Kathmandu or Pokhara earlier. After arriving at the hospital, we had a meeting with Dr. Shiv Shankar Shah, one of the doctors at the hospital to discuss about the medical needs of the community and the problems that the hospital is facing right now in order to gain a better understanding of the situation and receive feedback to maximize Dr. Car’s potential usage.
The trip has given us firsthand experience on the hardships of communities living in one of the least developed areas of Nepal, as well as valuable new insight to what our team had overlooked or had not known while planning the project - for instance, when we told the hospital of our intention of providing all medical services for free, they informed us that free services would result in people seeking unnecessary treatment; however, putting a price would result in the opposite and drive people away from the hospital. Facing these problems, this forced our team to suggest and discuss solutions with the hospital on the spot, in which we came up with establishing a quota card system that would be distributed to members of the community. Overall, the trip to Siraha was an eye-opening experience that allowed the four team members to get a deeper understanding of the situation of the project they’ve been working on from afar for years as well as tap into their critical thinking minds to quickly come up with remedies in response to unexpected impracticalities.