Mark and Deirdre Zimmerman are CMSI Mission Associates based in Kathmandu, Nepal, where they live with their sons Zachary and Benjamin.
In their April prayer letter, Deirdre provides a poignant insight into life for some of the most marginalised members of society in Nepal and shares an update on the Covid-19 situation in Nepal.
Of course, Nepal is incredibly vulnerable to a disaster like Coronavirus. If the wealthiest nations in the world struggle to contain death rates, we can only imagine what it will look like in a country where a UNICEF survey found that 53% of health facilities across the country lack a handwashing facility with soap and water (questions about numbers of ventilators are likely superfluous).
The lockdown brings with it very mixed emotions. We feel like we are bracing for the arrival of a hurricane, even as preparations are completed at Patan Hospital for a COVID unit and 18 critical care beds with ventilators, completely separated from the main wards which are now emptied of all but the most serious cases. Non-essential surgeries have been cancelled, outpatient clinics are almost empty, and staff are working on light rotations in this seeming 'calm before the storm'; however, anxiety levels have led to incidences of panic in the handling of ordinary patients.
From the apparent security of our quiet middle-class neighbourhood, with Nepal's confirmed cases still below ten, we worry about how the many less privileged are faring, and I think of Saniraj's mother. Social distancing is an unattainable luxury if you are part of a community squeezed into a few shared rooms. What do you do as a day labourer, living hand to mouth, when you have no possibility to go out and work?...
Small business owners with their stock sitting in shuttered rooms that still need to have the rent paid; porters, cooks, waiters and cleaners in the collapsed tourist industry; there are many here without any social net to catch them. And what about the pregnant and the sick now unable or afraid to seek medical care, the many other 'Sanirajs' who will not receive timely treatment for life-threatening but treatable illness?
You can read more from Deirdre in the Zimmerman's Link Letter. Please do keep them - and those they serve - in your prayers. And pray for Nepal as its people feel the impacts of the Covid restrictions.