Happy 2014 everyone! I am so thankful for a wonderful 2013, a year with more than its fair shares of ups and downs. Whether I was watching friends get married, spending time with family, working with Kopila Valley, or most recently progressing with OdaKids…it was certainly a year to remember. More than anything I am thankful for the family and the friends who supported and believed in me, and what I’ve been hoping to do. As with most things worth their salt, it has not been an easy road, but a road worth taking. In our first month alone we’ve treated over 500 people, and continue to help more people daily as people learn about our clinic and our work.
Happy New Years from all of us!!!
As for the project things are humming along. As I wrote about in my last blog post, the realities of living in Kalikot and the challenges we face are pretty intense. When we call Oda for updates, we ask for several data points, but one of the most telling is the amount of “Serious Patients” that come in. While it is wonderful to help people with a cough, a cut, or some sort of ache…it is helping these serious people that left an indelible mark with me on my last trip up. During our first two weeks in Kalikot, we saw all sorts of serious patients come in; however, two stories really stick out, one with a sad ending, the other with a much happier conclusion. The first involved a middle age woman whose husband carried her on his back for two hours to get here. Upon her arrival, I could just see in her eyes that she was in extremely bad shape. The haunting way she gazed into my eyes is something I will not soon forget. As the doctor worked with the woman and her family, I knew that her condition was serious but not quite how serious. A few hours later I realized the woman was gone; and to my surprise I discovered her husband had taken her home. I figured that despite her condition, the doctor must have given her something to help and she was back resting and recovering in her home. It was not until later in the day, that I learned that on her journey home she passed away on her husband’s back, just as they were arriving. I was tremendously sad to learn this news, however, over dinner I talked to our doctor where he said he knew instantly that the woman did not have much longer to live. She had a pneumonia which was far past the point of treatment. Rather than treating her, Doctor Karki gave her some medicine for the pain, and laid her in the sun, as he explained to her husband that he should enjoy the last few days and hours with his wife as she did not have too much longer to live. While I appreciated his honesty, it was not until that moment that I fully understood the reality of life in Kalikot, and the gravity of what we will face on a daily basis.
A sad day from when our clinic was still outdoors.
ON a more uplifting note, thankfully all of these stories do not have a sad ending. Two days after this woman passed away, we had another girl come into our clinic. Like many of the patients that come, she was carried on her father’s back from Romney, which is roughly an hour and a half away. When she arrived she was shaking, vomiting, and barely conscious. The Doctor quickly asked everyone to leave the clinic, and immediately hooked her up to an IV and gave her several other intravenous medications. Throughout the course of the day, I would pop in to check on her. We recently constructed a bed in the clinic, so the doctor could work, while keeping an eye on patients that need to be looked over. She was one of those cases, and for 6 hours, the doctor monitored her and replaced her IV bags. As the clinic was closing she was able to emerge on her own feet and walked home with her father. After she left the doctor explained to me that she was so dehydrated, and losing fluids so rapidly, that without immediate treatment she almost certainly would have passed away. On one hand this was satisfying knowing that our doctor was able to save this 13 year old girls life, however, it was also extremely sobering. I hate to think about all of the people that will pass away, because they cannot access the most basic medications, and can’t help but ponder the fate of this girl had she fallen ill one month earlier. That said, for this one girl Doctor Karki made a difference, and just as importantly, our supporters from home made a difference. In the world and especially in Nepal and other developing countries such a limited number of time and resources can make a truly profound difference. In this instance, it was the difference of life and death and a happy ending that otherwise might not have been.
A Scary start which concluded in a Happy Ending!
So…with the challenges of 2013 behind us, I am thrilled for the New Year where and all of the exciting things planned for the coming weeks and months! I recently got back from Kathmandu where we made some great progress for the project. I met with lots of tremendously helpful and bright people, and all of them seemed more than willing to lend a helping hand. Whether travelling to Fabric and Clothing wholesalers to medicine distributors we met with a lot of people who can help now, or have the potential to help in the future. While in Kathmandu, we made some very affordable wholesale clothing purchases including, 300 pairs of gloves, 100 hats, and 100 jacket/sweat pant combinations. Further, the woman’s center at Kopila Valley produced extra Reusable Maxi Pad kits, so next week I am returning to Kalikot with one of last year’s Kopila Fellows to distribute the clothes, check in on the project, and distribute the Maxis.
Clothes shopping for the project in Kathmandu!
Beyond this news…On one last SUPER exciting note…my brother and author of two of the most recent blog posts is coming out to Nepal to help me on January 24th! While I’m sad I won’t have him to help post to the blog, I am thrilled that he is coming out to join me in Kalikot. Not only will he bring a lot to the table in terms of teaching the children in the community, selfishly he will also be great company in a very remote part of the world!