‘It was heartbreaking to see and hear about Nepali people suffering, dying’

Nepali Ambassador to Oman Sarmila Parajuli Dhakal.

Mahabir Paudyal

  • Read Time 3 min.

Kathmandu: On May 15, 560 oxygen cylinders arrived in Kathmandu from Oman, as the country was facing acute shortage of oxygen support in hospitals. Nepalis living in Oman, including other Gulf countries, had raised funds to buy the cylinders. “When we saw that hospitals in Nepal faced scarcity of oxygen cylinders, we initiated the action,” said Sarmila Parajuli Dhakal, who heads Nepal’s mission in Muscat. “We were also working to send liquid oxygen to Nepal but it could not be done due to lack of suitable transportation means,” she said.

Oman mission had earned a good fame during the first wave of pandemic in 2020 too, for a good reason. The mission helped Nepalis come home safely and at a reasonably low airfare. The mission ensured that every Nepali bound for home underwent PCR test, and only those with negative results were sent home.  The Nepal embassy was able to send Nepalis home at a much lower price than quoted by the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation in Nepal. “We were the first mission to repatriate Nepalis with a complete PCR test. We worked to reduce the airfare for Nepalis who wanted to go home so that the low-income people affected by the pandemic would not be left behind,” she said.

When the second wave hit the country this year, Sarmila Parajuli Dhakal was closely observing the Covid situation in Nepal.  When the number of cases and the deaths increased significantly in India, it alarmed her. “What will happen if a similar situation arises in Nepal? I thought,” she said. “Then I started to explore possible means and ways to send help to Nepal,” Dhakal said.

Nepali Ambassador to Oman Sarmila Parajuli Dhakal (R) with crew members of a NAC aircraft that brought oxygen cylinders to Nepal. Photo: Nepal Embassy, Oman

Then she immediately called a meeting with Nepali Social Club of Oman and discussed the situation. She organized a webinar with Nepali communities and requested them personally to collect funds. “Then I spoke to the authority in Oman to book a sufficient number of oxygen cylinders.” The funds were being raised by Nepali Social Club Oman, and NRNA Team while at the same time she was coordinating with the Foreign Ministry in Oman and Nepal. “The Embassy requested the government to make necessary arrangements for transportation of the cylinders to Nepal through a chartered flight,” she said.

Raising funds, securing medical support and coordinating for approvals were not easy particularly during the Eid holidays in Oman, but due to the cooperations from both the governments it was possible.

Raising funds, securing medical support and coordinating for approvals were not easy particularly during the Eid holidays in Oman, but due to the cooperations from both the governments it was possible. It was also possible due to the contribution from Nepali brothers and sisters living in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The embassy was able to send cargo with oxygen cylinders within less than a week of the first meeting with Nepali communities.

Dhakal is all thanks to Nepalis in Oman, Nepalis in the Middle East, NRNA Team, and the authorities in Nepal and Oman for providing support and cooperation in this noble cause. “It’s a teamwork, team spirit, we could not have done it alone,” she said.

“To see and hear about the Nepali people suffering from the deadly second wave, dying due to insufficient oxygen support, it was heartbreaking,” she said. According to Dhakal, Nepal’s embassy in Oman is fully invested in ensuring welfare of Nepalis there. “We have a team of dedicated diplomatic and local staff for that purpose,” she said. “We are always concerned about the welfare of Nepali people wherever they are.”

Oxygen cylinders donated by Nepali workers. Photo: Nepal Airlines

Appointed as the ambassador in 2017, Dhakal says, she never had to feel a lack of cooperation for being a female diplomat. She explored the ways to do things herself instead of waiting for the directives from the Ministry. “We need to be proactive ourselves during the crisis time,” she shared with Nepal Live Today.

Part of the reason Dhakal could do, whatever little she could, for Nepal is because of the goodwill of Omani people for Nepal and Nepalis. “When I spoke to the officials here about the Covid situation of Nepal, they said they are ready to offer any kind of help for Nepal. Omanis love Nepal and Nepalis very much,” she said. 

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