News BlogLatest News From Our Volunteers in Nepal

 

With Joyous Diligence


Since I’ve been here, besides treating patients, I’ve been reading some books of Buddhist thought.  One book that speaks to me deeply is called Medicine & Compassion, A Tibetan Lama’s Guidance For Caregivers written by the Venerable Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche and David R. Shlim, M.D. 

One thing from the book that sticks with me is the idea of treating patients with joyous diligence.  The thought is that you gain energy because you enjoy the work.  It is also one of the 6 virtues of a Bodhisattva, having perseverance.


As I’ve been treating patients I’ve noticed some are easier for me to treat than others.  There are many reasons for this.  Some of their cases are very complex and my experience and confidence are lacking, the language barriers and the subtle things that get lost in translation are numerous, and sometimes just the pure energetics between people can be a challenge.  When I run into these walls, I try to bring myself back to the idea of joyous diligence and the action of having perseverance. 

The other day I saw a woman for her second treatment and as I looked at her chart it was very complex and I thought, “What am I possibly going to be able to do to help her?”  The beloved interpreter and I started in, and the patient revealed that she had been bitten by a dog.  I looked away from her chart and up at her and realized that I had dodged a bullet trying to figure out how to treat the things on her chart, but that we were going to head in a totally different direction with her whole new barrage of ammo.  After a few basic questions about the incident we got to the place of making choices about her treatment.  Number one…if the dog was vaccinated we don’t need to send you to the health post but we do need to contact the owners and get the vaccination report to be sure.  Number two…you need to go to the health post for vaccination because we can’t get a vaccination report and the dog owner doesn’t care that his dog bit you.  Number three…don’t ask for a vaccination report for the dog or go to the health post and risk getting very sick.

After tears, worry, and deep concern from all parties involved, I cleaned the wound and told her that I cared for her and I didn’t want her to get sick.  She said she had no money and I assured her that was nothing to worry about and that we would take care of it as long as she agreed to go to the health post for a rabies vaccination.  More tears, no way of paying us back, her husband had passed away a year ago, no money.  I again assured her that the only choice she had was to go to the health post because if she got sick, it would only make matters worse.  She cried and said, “Those dog owners don’t care if I die because I am poor.”  We reminded her again that we cared and that was why she needed to go to the health post.

I was just about to say, “Ok, these are your options and if you don’t want to go you don’t have too.” And she said, “Ok, I’ll go.  You have convinced me that I don’t want to be sick.”

So away we went with her to receive her first of three injections.  After it was all over we got back to our clinic and I treated her to ease her emotions.

At the end of our treatment she thanked us for not letting her get sick and die, and told us that now we too had become her family because we cared for her.

Upon reflection of the situation, I realized that when I let go of my agenda for her care, she also let go and agreed to let us help her.  I have also been struck by the fact that we fly half way around the globe to care for people, but how do we treat our neighbors and people of our own village?  With joyous diligence?

---Amy Schwartz

Good Morning Nepal!


Good Morning Nepal! It’s 5:30 a.m.

We at the Vajra Varihi Health Clinic are tossing our sleepy heads in bed while Monks twenty steps out the door are gonging, blowing gloriously long pipes and chanting from the deepest place in their bellies (a daily ritual known as puja:  expressions of honor, worship, & devotional attention). Turning over again, the signal for dog singing of all shapes and sizes has begun. Children are walking to school taking no notice of the woman carrying plates loaded with red petaled flowers, candles and other mysterious herbs blessing their doorsteps. A procession of villagers begin to enter the inner courtyard of the Monastery and circle the Gompa clockwise, spin prayer wheels, and pass their best hopes out to the Universe. It’s almost 6:00 a.m.; We have been blessed with a lovely rooftop garden and I can’t resist witnessing the awakening of our village, Chapagaon, from this viewpoint, with a possible glimpse of the Himalayas. Ahh, there they are...  and like everyone else on our team, I just can’t believe in one week I will walk amongst them!


Our workday is hours away, however I and my friend Diane have assigned ourselves the task of feeding a few stray dogs that call the inner courtyard their home. Off to the market for a dozen eggs and some milk, I am hoping to build their reserves for the Winter.  The Monks share rice with them, so perhaps with the Mange cure we’ve been giving them (boiled lemon skins, from the renowned British Veterinarian Doctor Juliette Baircli de Levy), a few baths, and most importantly recognizing the light in their eyes, this year will be better, and maybe, just maybe, someone will carry on.


Black chickpeas and chapatis for breakfast and I am off to stock the treatment room. Once the doors open, the patients who have often been waiting there for hours, stream in with their shimmering eyes. Many walk for great distances or ride the dizzying microbus for hours, as if it were nothing, having heard from a friend or relative of great benefits received from the clinic. Two things I have noticed in my Nepali people are their extreme patience and their great ability to heal. They come frequently, which is how acupuncture shines, and they believe in the medicines of the Earth.  Belief and intention - we talk about it all the time in acupuncture circles; The Nepali people live it.


Some many beautiful, cheerful days of patients sitting together sharing their stories, healing together. My favorite patient, Nuche is recovering from a stroke.


Each treatment another finger can move, the range of motion in his shoulder increases, his foot lifts a little higher. He smiles, he endures, his gratitude is heartbreaking. As he leaves my treatment room with his homemade walking stick and shyly one more time says Namaste, I understand how very lucky I am to be here, in this moment, with this extraordinary man. --Jeanne Mare Werle

Sacred Challenges


Nepal is full of sacred sites – shrines, temples, and monasteries -some of which I’ve been graced with experiencing during my time off here. However, I’ve been reminded during my journey here that there is nothing more sacred than family – the family that gave what they could to help me get here despite relation, and my new family that has supported me through the challenging exhaustion that comes at us daily with treating as many patients as possible while sorting through the difficult conditions. 

One of these challenging conditions belonged to a wonderful man with a family that displayed the ultimate commitment to their father’s wellbeing. Such a commitment in fact that in order to bring him to our clinic, his sons carried him literally on their back for two hours, then hired an ambulance to take him the rest of the three hours to get to our clinic doorstep. Upon hearing that his condition was far too severe to be fixed with one treatment, they rented a room in a local guesthouse to stay for the week to see how his condition would respond to treatment.

Upon assessment of his abilities and review of his CT scans and medical reports from M.D.s, we came to the conclusion that he was most likely suffering from an advanced aggressive form of Multiple Sclerosis. He came to us with joints that were so stiff and muscles so hardened and cold, that he was unable to extend his legs or arms more than 5 degrees, he could not straighten his left forefinger what so ever, nor could he bend his right fingers more than 20 degrees. He therefore couldn’t even lay flat; his knees and elbows were always bent. With a combination of acupuncture, moxibustion, massage, and guided exercises throughout the week I saw great improvement.  His arms were now able to straighten 95% of the way and his legs could extend by another 20 degrees. The dexterity of his right fingers had improved slightly and his left fingers began to loosen their once extremely tight flexion. His toes were now able to wiggle and flex a bit more.  I saw everyday, his severe immobility turn towards mobility.


Even though we had some great results, due to the severity of his condition, I came to the conclusion that significant lasting improvement was not within reach in a week.  I also realized that palliative care to improve his quality of life would take continued daily treatment, and this man lived far away.  Knowing that I couldn’t keep the family from their home for any longer, I taught his sons massage, moxibustion, and exercises in order for them to continue their father’s care at home.  They said they will try and bring him for another round of treatment after the upcoming Nepali holidays.  Also, while here, the family saw a Tibetan doctor, and decided to start him on Tibetan herbs long term. 


Although it was difficult to let go and say goodbye, I took comfort in knowing that he would continue to be cared for by the amazing commitment and love shown by his family. -Sarah Martin


More Articles

  • The Work of Farming

    The Work of Farming

    I’ve been moving around for awhile, but for most of my life I lived in one place. There is much to be said about having roots and feeling at home.

    Read More
  • Everyday Acupuncture Podcast

    Everyday Acupuncture Podcast

    Here in the west we are used to seeing acupuncture clinics in an urban setting, and it is often sought as an adjunctive therapy used in combination with other modalities.

    Read More
  • Jatra: The goddess

    Jatra: The goddess

    Patients come on a first come, first served basis, often arriving a little before 6am, slipping their appointment cards under a designated stone on the reception window sill. Many will

    Read More
  • Beyond the White Coat

    Beyond the White Coat

    When I started fundraising for this volunteer trip, many friends asked me why I chose to come to Nepal with ARP, and my simple response was, “to step out of

    Read More
  • Baskets and Knees

    Baskets and Knees

    In the foothills of the Himalayas, Bhajra Barahi is made up of steep hills, the slopes of which have been terraced for farming. These plots of rice, cauliflower, mustard, squash,

    Read More
  • A Day in Bajrabarahi: Where There are No Doctors

    A Day in Bajrabarahi: Where There are No Doctors

    When we open the clinic doors at 8:30, there are usually already a handful of patients waiting outside in the crisp morning air. Patients arrive throughout the day. There are

    Read More
  • Ten Years in Nepal: A Tale of Three Brothers

    Ten Years in Nepal: A Tale of Three Brothers

    The day started like most days, a brisk late-autumn morning with a light frost on the ground and clear blue skies. A breakfast of churra (beaten dried rice), chickpeas and

    Read More
  • Death

    Death

    Today's topic: Death! (the author does not pick blog topics; the blog topics choose him) I began thinking about this after hearing that one of our ARP staff members, Tsering,

    Read More
  • Together We Drink Tea

    Together We Drink Tea

    The morning sunlight, through a gap in my curtain reaches onto my bed and teases my skin. I look outside the window to see beautiful blue sky above our mountain

    Read More
  • I love food

    I love food

    Fun fact, my body is 85% digestive tract with the rest being sensory and motor structures that assist me in attaining more food. My genetics are closely related to a

    Read More
  • Return to Baseline

    Return to Baseline

    As part of our long term goals in Nepal, it is our aspiration to train several Nepali born practitioners to serve in our clinics. We have partnered with a small

    Read More
  • Today, I am very happy.

    Today, I am very happy.

    After clinic one day I had the opportunity to experience a wonderful delve into the down country culture of the local folks I've befriended over the last couple weeks. Gunaraj,

    Read More
  • My Bone Problem

    My Bone Problem

    Today I fitted my elderly patient with her (hopefully) semi-permanent shoulder cast. This woman came into the clinic a few weeks ago. I remember treating her knee pain and when

    Read More
  • Worth it

    Worth it

    Having lived my whole life in a developed country, with most of my needs magically looked after for me, it was a cultural shock to see the many inadequacies the

    Read More
  • More than just acupuncture

    More than just acupuncture

    In Bimphedi, a small remote village in the hills south of Katmandu where the acupuncture relief project has a clinic there is also an orphanage. The children that are there

    Read More
  • Trust The Process

    Trust The Process

    It’s been one week in Nepal and 3 days of clinic in Bajra Baraji. I’ve gone through so many emotions and learned so much about practicing primary care in a

    Read More
  • Bookends

    Bookends

    At the beginning of my service with Camp B at Bajra Bahari, my first patient is a 70 year old male with right-side hemiplegia resulting from a stroke. I look

    Read More
  • The Magic of Determination

    The Magic of Determination

    I meet Buddhi for the first time at the end of the second last week of the camp. He had a stroke 5 years ago which affected the mobility of

    Read More
  • Groundlessness

    Groundlessness

    Nepal for me was a practice in being comfortable with the feeling of groundlessness. Have you ever been on a suspension bridge? Nepal I came to learn, is full of

    Read More
  • Birth

    Birth

    There was definitely a special something in the air that Saturday night. We had just had a fantastic day off from clinic visiting the home of one of our rock

    Read More
  • Two Realities

    Two Realities

    Has anyone ever seen the movie, or read the book The Hunger Games? I know it is a teen drama but I am not sorry to say I have done

    Read More
  • Compassion is the Communication

    Compassion is the Communication

    I come from a large Russian Orthodox family and an even larger community. I spent my childhood wondering what any limits might be. What would that look like, where would

    Read More
  • My Nepal Experience

    My Nepal Experience

    Nepal and people who live in this country, the Nepalese; where do I begin? It was sensory overload the moment our flight landed in Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal.

    Read More
  • Avoiding the Finish Line

    Avoiding the Finish Line

    Upon arrival to the ARP Clinic in Bajra Barahi, nestled amongst the peaceful tree covered hills in the countryside of Nepal, I sensed a note of an “uh-oh, what have

    Read More
  • The Heart of Good Healthcare

    The Heart of Good Healthcare

    It has been a pleasure to spend two months as part of the project living and working with the people of Sipadol and Bhaktapur. In retrospect my role as a

    Read More
  • Compassion Connects The Series

    Compassion Connects The Series

    In the aftermath of the 2015 Gorkha Earthquake, Andrew Schlabach, Director of the Acupuncture Relief Project and Tsering Sherpa, Director of Good Health Nepal begin a new primary care clinic

    Read More
  • The Interpreters

    The Interpreters

    For me, meeting the local interpreters, acupuncture students and our cook, and getting to know them on a personal level, has been the most amazing experience. The high unemployment rate

    Read More
  • Context is everything

    Context is everything

    Time is flying by and we have less than a week before this camp’s rotation is over and the clinic will close until September. The first week or so here

    Read More
  • The Pushing Away, Pulls You In.

    The Pushing Away, Pulls You In.

    When it's all said and done, leading a team in any capacity is not an easy job. Being a medical volunteer here also stretches each of us. I thank my

    Read More
  • Thank you Nepal

    Thank you Nepal

    3:38AM - can’t sleep. We have 6 days left of clinic. For those patients we see only once a week, today will be our final goodbye. A lump forms in my

    Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

News Archive

Latest Instagram

Follow Us on Facebook

Your Donations Help

In addition to volunteering their time and energy, our practitioners are required to raise the money it takes to support their efforts at our clinic. Please consider helping them by making a tax deductible donation in their name.

DONATE NOW

Support our work

Donate Volunteer Get in Touch

Support Us