News BlogLatest News From Our Volunteers in Nepal

 

Kogate Project Update

Acupuncture Relief Project takes on its most challenging clinic project in the remote region of Kogate Nepal. Project Director Andrew Schlabach outlines the clinic's vision and obstacles.

Read more about our Kogate Clinic Project

 

2012 Annual Report

Annual Report coverIn 2012, our Third World Medicine Immersion Program continued to attract passionate and qualified volunteer practitioners who provided over 10,000 patient visits at our clinic facilites in Nepal. These volunteers worked six days a week and participated in over 60 hours of continuing education focused on improving their skills in case evaluation, treatment planning and patient progression. At the completion of thier stay, each practitioner presented a case study for peer review. These case studies help us analyze the efficacy of our clinic efforts.  For their participation in this course, our volunteer practitioners received 54 Professional Development Activity (PDA) credits from the National Certification Commission of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM).

Acupuncture Relief Project also completed the analysis of our Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROM) data. This small research study provided demographic data and some key insights into the efficacy of our clinic and serves as a definitive piece of evidence supporting our clinical model. Read more... Download our Annual Report and Financial Statements click here.

 

Compendium of Clinical Case Studies: Volume One

clinical case studiesCase studies provide a way for us to capture and share a small piece of our overall clinical experience. These case studies help us analyze the efficacy of our clinic efforts and contribute to a body of evidence that supports our overall project model. We share them here to provide our community some insight into our work in advancing our medicine both at home and abroad.

Download our Compendium of Clinical Case Studies: Volume One

 

If you have any questions about our financial report, case studies or would like to find out how you can help, please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Best regards,

Author: Andrew Schlabach

Cheers to Us

Jasmin Jones | Acupuncture Volunteer

Jasmin Jones | Acupuncture Volunteer

It's pouring down rain outside. The other practitioners and I have just returned from what should have been a 30 minute taxi ride but which turned into a 90 minute escapade through the streets of Kathmandu.  I myself am relieved to be back at the clinic and thankful that it is Saturday night, which means tomorrow is a half day. I definitely will be sleeping in!  My roommate, Lindsey, and I have just completed a 3 week course with a local Tibetan healer on how to perform treatments with singing bowls.  This has left me partially elated, and partially exhausted.  It's been 3 weeks since I had a full day to myself.

Eagerly I change from my soaking wet jeans and layer on two pairs of fleece pants, a wool shirt, hat, gloves, and socks in preparation for bed, even though it's only 7pm.  Do I really want to go to bed?  I ask myself.  It's hard to believe there are less than two weeks left of clinic which means I will be saying goodbye to all the clients I have grown to know, as well as all of the people whom I now consider a part of my team; the four other practitioners, six interpreters, the two housekeepers, Umila and Uma, and of course, Nicky the clinic director. I am definitely having one of those moments which can spark tears. I remind myself "I am strong, I won't cry.  Not when I still have almost two weeks left to enjoy it all."

Jasmin Jones | Acupuncture Volunteer

In the distance I can hear the other practitioners upstairs, decompressing from the day. Their voices are gently echoing through the halls, laughter interspersed between chatter.  I smile.  I know just what they are talking about...the taxi ride. As I inch on a second pair of socks to ensure my warmth I hear a loud drumming noise which perks me up, followed by a few trumpets, then more horns.  "What is that?"  I wonder.  I get up and walk to my window. Low and behold there is a parade coming down the narrow street below.  I open the window and poke my head out to see about 25 people dressed to the nines in bright colors...red, orange, blue and green...marching down the muddy road with instruments. At the tail end of this little party there is a grey car with marigold flowers streamed down the sides.  Five people are crammed inside the vehicle and since it's dark outside I can't make out any faces of the people inside it. One thing I am sure of-it's a wedding party!  "I wish I had better lighting!"  I slide my body further out the window in hopes of gaining a better view of the details which doesn't improve my vision in the least. Flashing my head lamp down below like a spot light is one thought which passes through my mind but thankfully my common sense stops me and I continue to hang out the window in awe, muttering under my breath, "Woooow".

Jasmin Jones | Acupuncture Volunteer

Heading upstairs to join the others suddenly sounds like a perfect idea so I add on one more layer, my black fleece jacket, and walk upstairs with a little bounce in my step. I head towards the door to the group room and see everyone sitting around the table with a tin cup in their hands. There is no electricity at this point in time so there are about five candles lit.  I choose the kitchen door first and see a two liter Mountain Dew bottle which I immediately know is filled with Rakshi, a local made rice wine.  I grab a tin coffee cup and pour myself a glass, well actually half a glass, this beverage is much stronger than it tastes I suddenly recall.  I then walk into the main room and sit to join the conversation which has now changed to musicals.  In the back of my mind all the events of the day are coming to the surface as well as this welling up of appreciation.  I find myself randomly calling out, "I love you guys!”  Everyone laughs.  "Are you buzzed already?"  They ask.  "No I just am having one of those moments and I have to tell you all  love you and I am going to miss you when I leave."   Finally one of the other practitioners, Joey, smiles back and says, "I love you too Jazz. Cheers to us!" --- Jasmin Jones

Jasmin Jones | Acupuncture Volunteer

Healing: A Two Way Street

Joey Chan | Acupuncture Volunteer

It was my second night in Nepal, I woke up at 4am with a rumbling stomach, and I knew right away I couldn’t escape it: traveler’s food poisoning. I rushed to the washroom as discreetly as I could to avoid waking my roommate. Last nights daal bhaat (rice and lentil soup) came right back up. I felt awful and had to inch my way back to my sleeping bag where I stayed crunched up like a shrimp till morning.

The next morning we made our way from the city of Kathmandu to our new home at the Vajra Varahi clinic. We were introduced to the rest of the team and started our interpreter training. I felt horrible but I tried my best to put on a happy face and tackle the day. Half way into training I couldn’t take it anymore. My stomach was not cooperating. I had to excuse myself because the sharp pains made it impossible to focus.

Joey Chan | Acupuncture Volunteer

Half dying in my sleeping bag someone came in to offer me Pepto Bismol, then another offering herbs, and finally someone else forcing me to drink electrolytes. I was being cared for just like I would be at home in my own bed and I just met these people! I drifted off to sleep knowing that I was in good hands. (See? Not to worry, Mom).

The care and love my new team offered accumulated in my heart and I was able to treat with more compassion and care in the next 2 months than I ever had. However, the stomach problems never seemed to go away. Now I call it the "weekend special". It’s a must on the weekend. It’s not a big deal anymore, just the usual detox.

Joey Chan | Acupuncture Volunteer

A month later, I dragged myself out of bed to go down stairs to the clinic. I did not sleep well due to the usual "weekend special". The first 3 patients walked in and I ask them how they are doing. They say they are improving and the pain is getting much better. The forth patient comes in with a huge smile on her face telling me her pain had decreased tremendously, which means she could work now. Her voice grew with joy while she explained how she is able to go for hikes, her appetite is back and she can sleep throughout the night without much pain. I was thrilled that all my patients were getting better and that I was successfully treating their conditions.

Joey Chan | Acupuncture Volunteer

After I needled her she asked if I was okay and that I look tired today. I told her I didn’t sleep well. She suddenly yelled, “Look! He stopped shaking! I’ve been watching your Parkinson patient and his hands are not shaking anymore”.

With a big smile on my face, I looked at my patients and said “I felt sick this morning but I forget about my pains when I see that I am helping with yours.” ---Joey Chan

Sticks And Stones May Break My Bones...

Lindsey Thompson | Acupuncture Volunteer

...but words can never hurt me.  The teenage years appear to share a universal language of challenge.  I remember my high school math teacher, giddily proclaiming that math overcame all language barriers across the globe.  It seems the emotional roller coaster of self discovery during the shift towards an adulthood self shares a universal language that stretches to the Himalayas.

Asha Maya came see me again today.  She is a sixteen year old with Bell's Palsy (a condition which paralyses one side of the face), who has been receiving treatment with the Acupuncture Relief Project for one year.  At a glance, it is no longer obvious that the right side of her face droops and refuses to move. 

Lindsey Thompson | Acupuncture Volunteer

I began working with Asha Maya in mid-January.  Her voice whispers from her mouth and shyness perfuses most of our interactions.  Over the last month, I feel that our relationship has grown.  I get stronger eye contact,  a deeper voice, and at times, we even joke.  I tell her that I'm very happy to see her, and after the brief time lag of interpreting, Asha Maya's face lights up from within.  In her melodic voice , she says she's glad to see me too.  The smile, while one-sided, is an internal smile that warms her face, her eyes, and being.  I think to compliment her on her beauty, but since there are many women in the room that I have not complimented, I hesitate and choose not to say anything. 

I have her lift her eyebrows in mock surprise, pucker her lips, and smile to assess how much movement the facial muscles can achieve.  After hearing so many class lectures about how effective Chinese medicine can be for facial palsy and stroke, the movements seem minute for her year of treatment.  I ask her if she thinks the acupuncture is helping her.  Asha Maya waggles her head from side to side in affirmation and tells me it is helping.  After a moment she says quietly, "I just want my face to move again." 

Lindsey Thompson | Acupuncture Volunteer

I continue using the protocols I learned in school and try to restore movement to her face with acupuncture. After I've placed the needles, I have a momentary lull in patients. I take the opportunity to thoroughly read the last year of chart notes, intending to bring the case up to the team later that evening and rethink her treatment plan.  I learn quite a bit.  Asha Maya has had slow and steady improvement.  In the beginning, she could not fully close her right eye.  Now she can.  She currently sits with her eyes closed absorbing the work of the acupuncture and moxa combination. 

Lindsey Thompson | Acupuncture Volunteer

Near the beginning of her chart, an annotation pops out at me.  "She does not want to leave her house because the boys make fun of her."  My heart aches.  For a moment, I experience shock and a rise of indignation at the idea of peers teasing someone for an appearance change beyond their control.  Then I remember my teenage years, filled with ruthless jeers and power struggles that weaponized tongues. Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.

I wish the sing-song phrase our mothers taught us in the nursery held true.  In reality,  the words we use on one another linger for years, decades, and sometimes for a lifetime.  I have sat with friends and patients discussing the past, hearing how words spoken a decade before hobble them now.  I wonder if the injury of words flowered on the surface like bruises, if we would be more careful with our speech. 

Lindsey Thompson | Acupuncture Volunteer

I resolve to speak my compliment to Asha Maya and to each patients when it pops into my head.  As my mom used to say, "You never know if a person has heard a kind word today."  Along these lines, uplifting compliments and acknowledgments can also stand the test of time.  The review of Asha Maya's chart notes, sticks with me.  I see it as a reminder of the power of our words.  The power to infuse confidence, strength, and hope or to practice undermining verbiage.  I hope to practice the art of building with my speech, and notice when I run the risk of becoming careless with my words. ---Lindsey Thompson

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