I knew that the time that I spent in Nepal with the Acupuncture Relief Project would be a personal conquest of service. However, when I walked through the doors of the Vajra Varahi Healthcare Clinic I had no idea of the transformative journey that would lie ahead of me. I did not grasp that I would soon need all of my inner strength and courage to face many new challenges strait on. As I reflect, I see that I have learned some valuable lessons along the way. More importantly I see the friendships and personal connections that will eternally impact my life.
As a practitioner, I have grown in ways that I never could have anticipated. As a human being I have been filled with gratitude and compassion for the world, and my soul has been inspired by the resiliency of the human spirit in the face of hardship, obstacles, and poverty.
As many of my patients have said, "Khe garne?" or “What is there to do?” I am placed in a position where I can provide hope where this word has long been forgotten. For some this is done with the insertion of a needle, for others it is through creating a space in which they can speak their hearts and truth, and for others it is sharing a similar destination of healing.
I think of my patients and the therapeutic relationship that we have formed in a relatively short period of time. I think of the expressive glances and common understanding that we have formed together. Through this experience, there is an intuitive knowing which I have nurtured and come to trust within myself in a new way. Slight movements of the skin, a subtle change in the tone of a voice, the way that an individual carries his or her self, and the glimmer or dullness of the eyes are all pieces of the new language that I have learned.
I recall the woman with knee pain whose husband suffered from typhoid fever, the man with Parkinson’s disease with the sparkle in his eye, the man with depression who echo’s beautiful tones from his trumpet across the valley, the woman with stroke sequela who is escorted into the clinic on her husband’s arm, the two women who have been friends since childhood with loving affection for each other, and the woman with the laugh that is contagious that by the end of the day everyone’s belly aches.
I reflect on the people that I have met, the patients that I have treated, and the moments that we have shared. And as I leave this place, there are heartstrings which are tugged with ample force reminding me of the bonds which have been made, and the people who I must leave behind. This is the choice that I have made... I have chosen to dive in and truly experience this place deeply, which has made it all the harder to let it go.
I came here to be of service to a community that needed my help. Little did I know how quickly I would become a part of it... and know it as a place that accepted me as its own. --- Felicity Woebkenberg
Volunteer practitioner Felicity Woebkenberg and interpreter Tsering Sherpa head out to a remote treatment site by motorbike.