Frost clung to the tent and grass again this morning as we woke after camping on Wongchu Memorial Hospital site in Kamding, Solukhumdu Valley. Yesterday we were fortunate enough to arrive in Kamding with plenty of time to not only see where ground has been broken for the hospital, but also to explore the local health post, which is staffed primarily with health officers and technicians and sees about 3,000 patients a year. It provides basic health services such as immunizations, health screenings, prenatal care and, recently, added a deliverty suite for obsetric care. When the Wongchu Memorial Hospital is completed, it is anticapated to provide health care to approximately 50,000 patients a year and will work in cooperation with the local health posts.
The emotional last twenty-four hours continued today as we not only stayed on the hospital site, but this morning we also visited the Wongchu Biswa Darshan Lower Secondary School and Girls' hostel in Chyngba. The primary school in Chyngba, which initially was built more than a decade ago by Wongchu Sherpa, was destroyed completely in the devastating earthquake of April 2015. The school had to be rebuilt and was reopened last month. It consists of two buildings (Earthquake Resistent), 5 classrooms, a library and office. We received a hearty greeting at the school by the principal, school children and families who gaves us khatas and pul malas.
As we finished our tour and headed down the trail from the school, the warning bell for classes rang. Just below us, a number of smart-loooking, uniformed girls emerged from a building perched on the side of the hill and started running up the trail past us to school. Unbeknownst to any of us, Wongchu Trust also funds a hostel for impoverished and orphaned girls. Twenty-three girls currently live at the hostel and are cared for by two women. The hostel may be a simple two room building consisting of a kitchen and dormitory, but is able to provide what almost no orphaned female in a low-income country recieves, a safe place to live and an education - a chance to more than just survive but to thrive. More than one of us teared up as we saw the blankets folded on each bed in the dormitory with military precision and the tiny shoes lined up along the wall. Wongchu Sherpa's passion, compassion and caring for his community is going to live on well past his premature parting.