Corona in Nepal: “Staying active is a key to survive in this time of crisis”

Rupesh Shrestha works as an architect in post-earthquake reconstruction projects in Nepal. With the help of a DAAD scholarship he completed his Master of Science in Natural Resources Management and Development at the University of Applied Sciences in Cologne in 2016. Rupesh Shrestha is secretary of Germany Alumni association called Nepal German Academic Association (NEGAAS), which aims strengthening academic relations between both countries. He is also DAAD Young Ambassador and is promoting Germany as a destination for higher education.

How are you doing during the Corona crisis?

There is a strict lockdown in Nepal now. Covid-19 cases are rising. Our health care system is not as advanced as the European one, so we hope that cases don’t get out of control. These days I work from home and spend more time with my family. In my spare time, I watch webinars on different subjects like project management, leadership, architecture, or climate change. Recently I completed a research paper on post-earthquake heritage reconstruction which I intend to present in a scientific conference at the end of this year. I guess staying positive and active is a key to survive in this time of crisis.

How do you work?

Right now, I am working from home and doing my tasks online as far as possible. I am preparing architectural drawings of buildings damaged by the earthquake of 2015, preparing construction cost estimation, and developing technical detailing. These are some of the tasks that can be done through my laptop and sent digitally. My other tasks such as field supervision and taking measurements of buildings and infrastructures are completely disrupted because of travel restrictions and there is no digital solution to complete such tasks at the moment. For me working from home is not as much productive as in the office. 

Are you working for social initiatives too?

Yes, I keep myself active through the Germany Alumni association. We organise regular online meetings through skype to share our individual health situation and current activities. Besides that, I am working for the Nepal German Academic Association (NEGAAS), which conducted three initiatives against the coronavirus. One was an internal fundraising to buy food and medical supplies for vulnerable people who are suffering from the crisis. The second initiative is a new pilot program called “Supporting Digital Education in Nepal”: Due to lockdown, most of the University classes have shifted to online lessons. Now we support master’s degree students from the Tribhuvan University Nepal, who have difficulties to attend their classes due to the extra burden of buying mobile data packs or 4G services. Our third initiative was supporting a nearby orphanage that had a shortage of food due to the lockdown situation. Our alumni association member brought us in contact with a foundation that supplied the orphanage with food for 15 days.

Interview: Marlene Thiele

How are you coping?

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July 2020

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