Rachel Petit (Nepal)

Rachel Petit is a 23-year-old Canadian, currently pursuing a Masters degree in Human Rights and Humanitarian Action concentrating in global health at Sciences Po’s Paris School of International Affairs. Before coming to Paris, Rachel graduated from the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine with a Bachelor’s degree in Health Sciences, majoring in health and society. Over the course of her degrees, Rachel has been actively involved in advocating for the human rights of homeless and at-risk youth in Calgary and refugees in Paris. Rachel is working towards a career in international health advocacy and is grateful for the opportunity to develop her skills with The Advocacy Project. Rachel was drawn to working with AP, and specifically with CWN, out of a desire to contribute towards sustainable initiatives that support Nepali women in the realization of their right to health. Upon her return from Nepal, Rachel reflected that, "to arrive at one’s own conception of happiness, there is a minimum set of conditions that must be afforded to all individuals, regardless of cultural context, in order for them to be able to realize their full potential as human beings capable of exercising rational choices."

From Kathmandu to Dhankuta

01 Jun

The journey from Kathmandu to Dhankuta began bright and early at 4am when I left the place that I had been staying at to join Yunesh before heading to where the bus would pick us up. Yunesh is the son of Indira Thapa, the founder of Care Women Nepal. In the past, Yunesh has been heavily involved with the planning of health camps when he is not busy carrying out his studies in international relations and diplomacy. At our meeting on the proceeding day, Yunesh had provided me with a phone number that I should give to the cab driver. Once I got in the cab, I was to instruct the driver to call Yunesh to discover where I should be dropped off. I’m not sure exactly how it works, but the same thing happened when I took a cab from the airport to the place I was staying in Kathmandu. I am used to simply providing an address to an uber driver, and then arriving where I need to be. In Nepal, streets are not necessarily marked, and locations are listed as on a given street (but not necessarily where on the street). For this reason, a call between a cab driver and Nepalese speaking host is necessary.

First call to Yunesh, no answer. Second call, no answer… I began to worry as I rode around in a cab at 4am with nowhere to go. Thankfully, shortly thereafter Yunesh called the driver and provided him with a location by a pond. The cab driver was adamant that he had to go, and so I was dropped off by this pond to wait for Yunesh. I stood by the pond in darkness for a good 10 minutes, surrounded by barking dogs and thinking back to the meeting that I recently had at a travel clinic in Canada where they had warned me about rabies.

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Soon, Yunesh emerged from the darkness and we set off to find another cab that would bring us to where we would catch the bus. The bus held about 12 people, and was in good working condition. The journey was set to take about 10 hours, although we stopped frequently for tea breaks, bathroom breaks and chip breaks. During one of these breaks I met a man who was stirring a large caldron of boiling liquid. He was making sweets that are traditional within the region of Barhara, Nepal. Along the way, I took in some of the most beautiful sights that I have ever seen. One minute I found myself in the clouds, and the next, I was in a luscious valley. As we drove along a road made up entirely of switchbacks, I couldn’t help but imagine what might happen to me if we went head on into one of the many other large vehicles that we narrowly scraped by on a one lane highway while going 100km/h. No seatbelts were to be found within the vehicle, yet no one else seemed worried. Luckily most of the highway was paved (except portions of the highways that had recently been rendered nearly inoperable by road slides), and our driver seemed to know the unwritten rules of driving in Nepal very well. When we went around corners we would sound a large horn to warn other trucks. While this is essentially the only system in place to let other people know that you too are turning the corner, it seems to work with surprising efficacy. In these prima facie stressful situations, rather than panic I tend to feel utterly calm. If I know there is nothing that I can do to change the reality that I find myself experiencing, I simply sit back and try to appreciate my surroundings.

At around 6pm, we arrived in Dhankuta, safe and sound. I am at once thankful for the skill of the driver who transported us here safely, and all the more aware of my own mortality.

Posted By Rachel Petit (Nepal)

Posted Jun 1st, 2017


  • Karen Delaney

    June 4, 2017


    Quite an adventurous ride!! Your writing transports us to Nepal, and the pictures add to your story. Keep up the great work, Rachel!

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