Volunteers feed COVID-19 patients, doctors in Nepal hospital

At one of the largest hospitals in Nepal, a pharmacist and taxi driver have teamed up to feed COVID-19 patients, doctors, nurses and health workers

He took 1 million rupees ($8,333) out of his family’s savings. And with the help of his friend Indra Kumar Newar -- a taxi driver who had no work in recent months due to the lockdowns -- he rented a vacant restaurant across the street from the hospital, bought groceries and hired a few helpers.

The meals are vegetarian, prepared after consulting with nutritionists. They offer a combination of rice, lentil, beans, vegetables, fruit and salad for brunch and dinner, and snacks in afternoon.

They begin their day early in the morning. preparing hundreds of meals. Food is packed in disposable packets and carried by Bhadel and Newar to the hospital reception area, where the staff eagerly awaits.

“The doctors and health workers have been working risking their own lives and away from their families. It was time to do something for them when they need them,” Newar said.

Staffers work and stay at the hospital for a week on duty and then another week in quarantine before they are allowed to return home for a week off work. While they are at the hospital, their only access to hot meals has been what the team delivers.

Nepal -- which has 49,219 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 312 deaths -- first imposed a lockdown in March, which lasted for four months. A second lockdown was set last month in nearly half the country when the numbers kept rising.

Bhadel and Newar estimate they spend about 50,000 rupees ($416) a day for groceries. They have hired 11 cooks and helpers, all of them paid minimum wage and are regularly tested for the virus.

Families, friends and neighbors have donated food, money and supplies. Bhadel and Newar have paid the rent for three months.

“We are hopeful the situation will get better in three months,” Bhadel said, “but if that does not happen, we will continue our work.”

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While nonstop news about the effects of the coronavirus has become commonplace, so, too, have tales of kindness. “One Good Thing” is a series of AP stories focusing on glimmers of joy and benevolence in a dark time. Read the series at https://apnews.com/hub/one-good-thing