Beep-beep! scooty’s horn outside indicates that my fellow researcher has already arrived at my doorstep. I put on my windproof jacket, a shawl, shades and a mask and I am all set to leave. There have been road expansion works taking place along Prithivi highway connecting to Pokhara. As construction works are not so rapid, the environment is dusty. With dust gently settling on our skin, we pass through the bustling jam-packed highways and reach Shishuwa hospital (Primary Hospital of Pokhara Metropolitan City) and Rudra pharmacy (a local pharmacy) to collect the data for the baseline survey for Urban Health System Strengthening Research being implemented by Pokhara Metropolitan City and HERD International.

My role involved collecting our respondents’ contact details, establishing contact with them for their appointment for interviews, taking interviews with the respondents based on the data collection tool, measuring their blood pressure, performing diabetic screening tests and other anthropometric measurements and ensuring that their response regarding hypertension and diabetes service is captured well.    

Far from the rush and chaos of the city, the calming breeze of the wind and the chirping of birds helps us forget the run-down streets we had crossed to reach each respondent’s homes on the outskirts of the city. When tired of walking on a scorching summer day, we sat under the tree which provided us cozy shade, peace and pure bliss. In the back and forth between community and health facilities, we meet different personalities, each adding a unique hue to our journey of exploration and experiences.

While interacting with some respondents, there were moments when we felt so privileged and fortunate to afford basic living for life. Still, many people are deprived of basic health care. Many respondents appreciated our work which provided instant gratification and motivation to do better. We met with many kind people who offered us a glass of water, a warm cup of tea and snacks which provided us energy in the sweltering sun of April. Meeting such nice people in such beautiful places helped us forget the hustle we were facing. Every place we visited, we brought many stories back with us.

As a field researcher, my days are never quite the same. Every day comes with a set of joy, fulfillment, unexpected challenges, thrilling encounters, and moments of pure awe. Some challenges come with life in the field. Data collection is painstaking work. Understanding the perspectives of the respondents, their insights and paying attention to details is important to receive uncompromised data from them. The most challenging part was to keep participants informed about the purpose of getting data from them and gain their voluntary consent. Fully complying with ethical considerations is something field researchers like me should not compromise.

There were days when the scooter almost slipped and skidded, to navigating roads to find respondents’ homes in unfamiliar territory has taught me that life comes with uncertainties. But finding joy in these obstacles and making them a part of the adventure helps us set a long journey in learning new things in life.

Working with HERD International as a short-term field researcher was like sailing on waves of serendipity, and I was all set to embrace the unpredictability of life’s current opportunities and joys along the way. The excitement level was at its peak as it was my first ever job as a public health graduate.  It’s been a journey filled with challenges and rewards, but above all, it’s been a journey of learning, relearning, blessings and experiencing one of the best memories of my life. The learning of one month has made me understand hard work which will help me become better in the days to come.

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