WE BUILT A CLINIC!!!
Hi Everyone! I hope you are all having a wonderful holiday season! As the title of this post suggests…We built a clinic! I very recently arrived in Surkhet, and am still decompressing from a very impactful trip up to Kalikot. But the moral of the story is that we did it! Despite the ups, the downs, the uncertainty, the doubts, the challenges…WE DID IT! We have a clinic and we are helping people who otherwise would not be helped. The immense satisfaction accompanied by seeing our first patient get treated pushed much of those frustrations to the back burner, and helped show that while there were bumps in the road…the road was still worth taking.
For now, I am in Surkhet and Kathmandu for the next several weeks to take care of some project related tasks, in addition to celebrating Christmas and New Year’s! During these few weeks, I intend to pass along stories about my trip to Kalikot, stories about lives saved by OdaKids and Doctor Mim Bahadur Karki…along with stories about lives lost. These stories have taken some time to process, so today I plan to focus on the clinic and the extraordinary work done to get it set up in such a timely manner!
On the morning day one we quickly learned that all of the medicine and supplies we purchased for our initial trip would not fit in the truck we hired for our trip up. Responding quickly to the issue, Karan and Tope made some calls, and we were able to get our medicine on a bus up to Kalikot. Karan took the bike, as my brother mentioned we put a man on the bus to keep an eye on the medicine, and the rest of us squeezed into our truck for the journey up. After the twelve hour trip, we were warmly received in Sarabara which is the nearest road head to Oda. Due to some delays on the way up, we spent the night in Sarabara before heading to Oda the next morning. After some tea in the morning we were met by a large contingent of boys and men who came out to the street to receive us and carry our supplies from the truck and bus to Oda.
On our second day in Kalikot, we met with about 70 villagers in order to develop a cogent strategy for village involvement. During this meeting we established a Village Board with 4 members from the 3 neighborhoods in town. Each neighborhood has responsibilities which range from receiving medicine from the road head to working in the clinic. Months ago I mentioned the necessity for cooperation from the community, which would be imperative to project success. Almost immediately the village began walking the walk in addition to talking the talk. Each day a new group of men would come with additional supplies and material to work on the clinic. Whether they were building shelves, beds, tables, or installing a new solar panel the clinic and its development was hugely accelerated as a result of their eager support. As I mentioned in previous posts, due to financial constraints our clinic is housed in a large room in Karan’s house which used to hold his cows. This room needed some serious renovations to house a clinic. Despite our constraints, due to the army of workers and some positive attitude we were able to quite literally make something out of nothing. Having visited many clinics in Kalikot and Nepal for inspiration, our clinic is one of the best stocked and staffed in the region.
Concurrent to clinic construction our Doctor opened the clinic, where he worked for the first few days outdoors. This was an impressive feat, as he would diagnose people outdoors, and then run into our home to located medicine in boxes scattered throughout the house. Almost immediately his impact was felt, and through two weeks we averaged 41 patients a day. As my brother posted, in addition to working with villages from Oda, we opened the clinic to people from people outside of the community. The one difference is the amount they contribute is a bit higher, due to the financial realities of our project. That said, despite the increased rates people would come from hours away in order to see our doctor, some walking upwards of 3 hours each way. This speaks volumes to the lack of quality and affordable medical care in the area. In addition to having a quality doctor, we also have quality medicine which contrasts sharply too many of the other community clinics which are staffed by inexperienced medical practitioners and stocked with expired medicine. While I’m thrilled about our ability to help the community, people continued to come from further and further away in order to visit our clinic. This is a testament to the respect doctor Karki commands in the area, but is also sobering as we deal with how to treat the maximum number people on a limited budget. Numbers aside, after 4 days of construction we were able to move inside to our completed clinic. This move helped increase efficiency enormously, as the doctor was quickly able to retrieve medicine rather than having to hunt and peck through the house. In addition to the move, we hired one uncle (Dahn Bahadur) to serve as a general helper to the doctor, so he can focus on what he was hired for…to help people. Beyond Dahn uncle we also accepted a couple of volunteers to help Doctor Karki. Not only are they helping increase clinic efficiency, they’re also learning basic medical care…a skillset which will greatly benefit the community in the future.
Doctor Karki hard at work!
One last success story of the trip was the start of English language lessons. I will save this for a later post, but already we have 40 to 50 kids coming to each lesson hoping to boost their language skills and prepare for their exams. In just a few weeks their progress was amazing. I am already excited to get back up to the village and continue where we left off with English.
I will be sure to pass along more updates very soon. In addition to working on project related tasks, I’ve also spent my time in Surkhet catching up with Maggie's team and her kids at Kopila Valley . Just yesterday I was able to take two students to the fair, where they were able to go on some carnival rides for the first time…while they were a bit sketchy, it was a ton of fun and they had a blast.
Until next time, hope everyone is doing well! Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!