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Deutschlandstipendiat Sagar Dhital

The first doctor in Katunje

München, 12/08/2015

Medical student Sagar Dhital’s greatest wish is to help improve the lives of the people in his Nepalese village - which, he says, “helped me to become what I am today,” gets a new hospital.

Sagar Dhital

Sagar Dhital grew up in a small village in Nepal. “I had to walk barefoot for four hours to school every day,” he says. His parents cannot even imagine the life he now leads in Munich. He phones his father every two weeks, “and he often asks me if I have enough firewood to boil my rice,” Sagar remarks. There is no internet in his village, no paved roads and no local health center. In Nepal, the maternal mortality rate is 170 per 1000 live births, and the figure for infant mortality is 43 per 1000 live births. Three of Sagar’s siblings are no longer alive. The country suffers from a dire shortage of trained doctors and other healthcare personnel.

Given such statistics, it is no surprise to learn that Sagar Dhital is the first academic in his family. And he studies hard because: "When I go home now, people always come to me looking for treatment.” Furthermore, Sagar’s home region suffered grievous damage during the earthquakes of April/May 2015. When he finishes his medical studies, he wants to do everything he can to ensure that a new hospital is built in the area, so that at least some of the hardships his former neighbors are still undergoing can be alleviated, and their lives improved. To realize his dream of becoming a doctor, the 28-year-old has devoted himself to learning throughout his life. He graduated from high school as best in his class, and studied Human Biology at Kathmandu University, graduating with a first-class BSc. degree. In 2010 he began work as a graduate assistant in the Department of Anatomy at the University’s Medical Center. It would be a crucial turning-point in his life. Kathmandu University Hospital is located in Dhulikel, and has outreach centers in many parts of the country. This organizational structure enabled Sagar to provide care for poor people, and learn about their ailments and personal circumstances. “It was painful for me to realize that millions of people in rural areas of Nepal die prematurely simply because they lack access to hospitals and simple drugs,” he says.

Tales of LMU – and a journey to another world
In the course of his duties, Sagar Dhital came into contact with many medical students from Germany – including some from LMU. Their tales of their medical studies in Munich inspired him to take a four-month course in German at the Goethe Center in Kathmandu. “That was the beginning of my rollercoaster ride, an adventure I was fully prepared to commence,” he recalls. And then, bidding farewell to his friends in his village, he flew to Germany, with the little money his parents could spare. “For me, Germany was another world. My first few months here were full of surprises, because the country was so much more developed than Nepal,” he recalls. After taking a 4-month preparatory course in Frankfurt, which ended with a language test, he came to Munich and enrolled as a medical student at LMU. “I am so glad to be able to study here, and my classmates are all very nice.”

To finance his studies, he took a series of short-term jobs, working for a fast-food chain, then in a restaurant and, during his first semester he worked in a bar on weekends. In addition, he continues to work on his German. His day begins at 5 in the morning, but he has no difficulty getting up that early. His burning desire to assist his countrymen, to help improve their lives, alleviate their sufferings and see them smile is motivation enough. In spite of the hurdles posed by the language, he has passed all his university exams.

But now his diligence and application have paid off, for Sagar recently received a Deutschlandstipendium That means he no longer has to work every weekend – and that he will have more time to learn in his second semester, he says. And that makes him very happy, for it brings the realization of his dream that little bit closer.