Saturday, April 25, 2015

On Behalf of My Nepali Friends

Swayambhunath Stupa
In general, I avoid using this blog for anything other than food related notes.  Today, however, I need to make an exception.

Back in 1999, I was fortunate enough to fall in with a group of people who were starting up something special.  It was a partnership with a group of physicians in Nepal.  What began as a purely educational opportunity grew into a multi-faceted collaboration.  I had the pleasure of joining in the first joint mobile health camp, held in the village of Galyang, Nepal.  Four American doctors and one incredibly motivated educator/director joined a group of Nepali doctors, nurses, and medical students and, in four days, provided medical care to hundreds of people who might go most of their lives without ever seeing a doctor.  In that time, with the help of a medical student who translated for me, I evaluated ~380 children.  It was a trip that opened my eyes:  to the reality of the challenges in the daily lives of much of the world, to what one could do with minimal resources, to why I became a doctor.  It revitalized my passion for medicine which, at the time, was bogged down in fairly mundane issues.  My interest in Wilderness Medicine started with that experience.  I have photos, and memories, of crazy and wonderful things.  Of latex gloves being washed and dried on clotheslines so they could be reused.  Of working by candlelight, with cookies and chai tea keeping us sustained until we finally had to stop for the day.  Of sitting around a campfire at night, laughing with my new friends.  Of seeing diagnoses I'd only read about and feeling like I'd actually made a difference.

The organization has changed names since then, and the focus has expanded to promoting health and education for the Nepali people.  They have helped build a school, funded and provided equipment for neonatal and pediatric intensive care units, and hosted Nepali medical professionals to come to the USA for further educational opportunities, among other things.

Today's earthquake in Nepal has damaged and destroyed many buildings and taken many lives but it will not dampen the generous and kind spirit of the Nepali people.  I can say that that very same incredibly motivated educator, currently in Kathmandu, is safe, along with my Nepali friends and their families.  The school they built was designed with earthquakes in mind, but the village in which it is located suffered heavy damage and the school is currently a shelter for the villagers.  They need food, water and medicine and HealthCare Nepal is already working to make that happen.  Please consider donating; any financial donation would be greatly appreciated.

In addition to donating to HealthCare Nepal, there are other organizations accepting donations:  The Nepal Red Cross Society, Oxfam, UNICEF, and many many others.  The need is great.


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