Scalpel's Edge

A surgeon's notes

Luke’s version of Nepal

This is obviously Cris writing updates, so I tend to write from a medical perspective. I have asked Luke to write something, but he doesn’t seem keen….  I will have to do my best to share.

When Luke first arrived, he spent time getting to know everyone – stopping to have chiyya with friends and meeting everyone in the bazaar. Now, around the tea dates, he is busy everywhere, nipping in and out of the compound on his motorbike, managing varied projects, and it seems like the only time you can count on him being free is when I am on call.

I will share just a few of his projects. Luke is a computer systems engineer by training, but has worked in fairly high level of management as well.  In Nepal, he has worked alongside engineers with various expertise (water, civil and biomedical, amongst others), builders and tradesmen, workshop and hospital IT staff.  He has has a talent of identifying big questions that need the advice of the person who he has next to him at the time.  This means the more people he meets, the more diverse the projects he ends up working on.

He has a good friendship with the local blind community, who needed to rebuild their residence after the earthquake.  He has kept an eye on the project and helped them troubleshoot problems as they occur.  This even led to him helping dig a well, when they hit an unexpected spring!

Luke building


After the earthquake, Luke was considering the hospital supply logistics (which almost certainly means he was chatting over tea with his hospital friends) and realised we rely on external oxygen supplies, which are trucked in over landslide-prone roads.  So he and the Biomedical engineers reaserched the problem and realised we could install an oxygen concentrator, and make our own!  With a good business plan, he helped arrange external donations to support the project, as it will pay itself off very quickly, due to the high cost we currently pay for oxygen.

Oxygen plant

The plant is now installed, in a new little building, and as a spin off, he was able to install new oxygen piping through the hospital.  As happens with this project, extra requirements got added on – the update of the hospital’s medical air supply to “medical” air, as opposed to “just” air.  They were also able to relocate one of the compressors that was causing a lot of noise pollution, to make a nicer environment, and also create more room for other hospital equipment.  

And of course, to make good quality oxygen, we need to have smoke-free air.  Luke (and Tim) helped research and plan a new waste incinerator.  The new incinerator burns hotter, to reduce the smoke and fumes, and the guys were able to identify the particularly toxic smoke producing waste and come up with a plan to reduce its effect.  And if you have to have a new incinerator, make sure you have one with a view…

Incinerator view

Other of Luke’s projects fall outside the compound.  Through our friends, he met a spinal injury patient who had limited mobility in his home.  Nepali houses are often two story, with a large open area for cooking on the ground floor and a sleeping area up steep stairs.  

IMG 3455

This guy was unable to live as he normally would, because he couldn’t access his house with his cross-country wheelchair.  So with a little cash some ideas, and a lot of  help from his village friends, Luke and his friend, Ganesh, were able to help this guy make small renovations to his kitchen door, his porch (making it one level), install a first level sleeping room and make his life a whole lot easier, we hope. 

Disabled access


Certainly, that may be true. Luke often discovers problems when chatting with friends and hospital staff, and ends up finding ways to pitch in, support and help.  There’s more of these projects than I have mentioned, and there are more that he finds out about every day.  However, by solving one problem, the next similar problem is easier to solve.  And he works with a consistent team of hospital and outside workers, who all learn as well.  As always, when the sun goes down, they can celebrate with a  cup of chiyya.

Luke in ghau

2 responses to “Luke’s version of Nepal”

  1. Ewa Richardson says:

    Hi Cris, What a wonderful insight into your creative, problem solving husband’s life in Nepal. You two make an amazing team!

  2. Leonie Broadhurst says:

    You two are truly incredible and what a rich experience you’re giving your kids. Well done and God Bless.

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