Essential Service by Rakesh Prasad Chaudhary

ESSENTIAL SERVICE: Aarti Mestar, 29, works as a cleaner at the Jaleswar Hospital. She has left her 10-year-old daughter at home to take care of three other children, one of them is an infant daughter. She works in eight-hour shifts every day in and around the emergency room. “I work in contract, and I am constantly worried that they will fire me,” says Mestar.

Her husband Laxmi Mestar is also a cleaner and he works in the COVID-19 ward at the hospital. At the start of every shift, he puts on the PPE and gets tested often. She is relieved that he has tested negative so far. As a sanitation worker, she does not get the PPE so she makes do with what she has. “I don’t have many clothes I can change in and out from, so I wash my clothes every day when I get home,” she says.

Having two income earners means that the Mestars can support their family. “I understand that coronavirus is very contagious, but I am also very afraid of losing my job,” says Mestar, “I worry about the virus, but I also worry that we will go hungry.” Mestar wants to look at the positive side rather than dwell on the negative. “At least Laxmi and I get to work in the same place, I don’t feel so alone because my husband is by my side.”

Photos and Text: Rakesh Prasad Chaudhary @rakeshsenior

Copy Edit: Nisha Rai @nishastoryteller

Edit: Mallika Aryal @mikaness

#nepalphotoproject #Nepal #storiesofpandemic #jaleshwor #hospital #dailylife #virus #covidresponse #coronavirus