The Oda Foundation

EMPOWERING COMMUNITIES IN NEPAL'S REMOTE REGIONS THROUGH HEALTH AND EDUCATION INITIATIVES

Reflections from Oda

Sarah Wells, Annie Masterson and myself (Tanuja Devaraj) came to Oda, Nepal as part of a global health elective, to complete our four year medical education at Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, USA. We had worked with refugees from Nepal in Philadelphia for the past four years providing health care, education and advocacy through a student run organization, Refugee Health Partners. We loved the people from Nepal that we worked with and were eager to see Nepal, come full circle to understanding the culture, background and health challenges of Nepal.

                                                                The path to Oda - more than 2 hours from the nearest road.

                                                              The path to Oda - more than 2 hours from the nearest road.

  After almost a year of planning with John via skype, we finally arrived in Oda Naku-2 on April 30th, 2016. John had prepared us for our long journey to one of the most remote regions in Nepal, a 1 hour flight, 9 hour drive and 2 hour trek, but no words could describe the adventure, the adrenalin and out-of-this world scenery we experienced on our journey. 

After almost a year of planning with John via skype, we finally arrived in Oda Naku-2 on April 30th, 2016. John had prepared us for our long journey to one of the most remote regions in Nepal, a 1 hour flight, 9 hour drive and 2 hour trek, but no words could describe the adventure, the adrenalin and out-of-this world scenery we experienced on our journey. 

                                                                                                                                                                              Oda, Nepal!

                                                                                                                                                                            Oda, Nepal!

     

   

We reached Oda and were immediately welcomed into the Oda Family. For the next three weeks we were at home away from home with Karan Singh and John (founders of Oda) going out of their way to ensure our comfort, Tulki Aunty making sure we were well fed, and the entire Oda community including us in their daily lives.

                                            Annie and Sarah with staff children Asuta, Jamuna, and Asmita in the Kitchen!

                                          Annie and Sarah with staff children Asuta, Jamuna, and Asmita in the Kitchen!

We shared family style meals in the dining area, took walks around the village, enjoyed our saturdays bathing and doing laundry riverside and had many memorable playtimes with the kids.

We were also fluidly incorporated into the incredible medical work at Oda by the current staff, two doctors Dr. Mim and Dr. Narendra and one pharmacist Sarita. The medical clinic is a 24/7 urgent care facility with a fully stocked pharmacy, two examination rooms, and four hospital beds for short term admissions.

                                                                                  Tanuja and Mim Karki!

                                                                                Tanuja and Mim Karki!

We teamed up Dr.Mim and Dr. Narendra to deliver care to 40-50 patients a day. We took care of a range of clinical presentations from urinary tract infections, lacerations, malnutrition, anemia, gastritis, diarrhea, viral infections, pneumonia to COPD exacerbations. Prior to Oda Foundation, members of Oda and surrounding villages had to travel hours to days on foot to get to the nearest hospital, delaying care and leading to preventable health adversity. With the establishment of Oda Foundation, an infant with pneumonia, a disease that is deadly if not treated early, has timely access to the required antibiotic and a woman with diarrhea which can cause severe ehydration, sepsis and death can now receive the needed IV hydration and IV antibiotics. 

                                                                                                                                       Sarah working in Oda Medical.

                                                                                                                                     Sarah working in Oda Medical.

We were inspired and impressed by the health care that Oda Foundation is accomplishing. The trust the community and patients place in the organization is palpable and the health outcomes have improved significantly. In addition, Oda Foundation goes beyond providing medicine, whether it is providing eggs (beyond the reach of most individuals) to a severely anemic and malnourished patient, providing funds to support more advanced testing and treatment or making home visits to follow up on a severely ill patient.

 

Thank you to the entire Oda Family for inviting us and giving us this incredible opportunity to work at Oda Foundation.

 

 

 

 

Kheen

After two hours walking from Oda and another two hours on a bus, our team begins our ascent. Up into the mountains - passed herds of pack mules carrying rice, beans and oil, passed communities of mud homes nestled into hillsides, passed children tasked with collecting firewood – and up we climb. The team is not quite as enthusiastic as I am. For most Nepalis that live in this part of the country, walking is a necessity – rarely a leisure activity.

 A portion of the path to Kheen.

A portion of the path to Kheen.

Our research team is hiking to the remote area of Kheen (pronounced “khee-naa”). The journey is long and requires two full days of hiking up and down mountains to reach our destination. The walk to Kheen is breath taking, walking for hours with the snow-capped Himalayan Range as our backdrop. Hiking for 16 hours provides much time for reflection, and I can’t help but feel guilty for enjoying the walk - I will walk into this community once, and walk out once. I will never know the burden of making this journey regularly to survive - or perhaps, even more unfathomable, the idea of never leaving this remote community at all (a reality for many of Kalikot’s girls and women).

 Even the youngest kids must work to support their families - carrying supplies over 16 hours.

Even the youngest kids must work to support their families - carrying supplies over 16 hours.

When we arrive in Kheen, it seems other worldly. After having spent the previous month interviewing in areas of the district that are either touching the road or are only a few hours from the road, we realize very quickly the difference that this little bit of infrastructure can make. After only a few interviews, the extreme conditions that define this area come into focus – poor/nonexistence healthcare, cultural practices that even in other areas of Kalikot are considered to be “outdated,” and most strikingly, a persistent and debilitating food security crisis.

In an area where the nearest market is two days away, growing food locally becomes a priority. This is the case for the people of Kheen, and yet a subsistence lifestyle is not viable for most families. Some of the survey questions that we ask the women in our study touch on subsistence farming, and the general sentiment is that they just don’t have enough land to grow food on. Even for the few families that have enough land to grow on, Kheen is situated in an area where water is scarce for just about eight months out of the year. The shortage of both water and land leaves most families having to walk the four-day round trip journey to the market to carry the food that their family needs to survive. To break it down a little bit further – this means that an individual has to spend four days walking to carry a bag of rice that will likely only last between one to two weeks. Put simply: it is almost impossible for a family in Kheen to get the food that they need to be healthy.

 To combat food insecurity the wealthiest families hire mules to carry in rice. 

To combat food insecurity the wealthiest families hire mules to carry in rice. 

The children of Kheen show a clear depiction of the problem. In Kheen, I had to stop trying to guess the ages of the children that we met – the one year old that looks like a two month old baby is all too common. Stunted growth and severe nutrient deficiencies of both mother and baby is the norm in Kheen, and contributes to a cycle of malnutrition within households.

 Stunting and nutrient deficiencies are all to common in area's like Kheen.

Stunting and nutrient deficiencies are all to common in area's like Kheen.

Looking back on my experience in Kheen, there is so much more that I want to say – and even more that I am still processing. We recently had a visitor who came to visit Kalikot from Europe, who expressed his surprise by how many people were living in the mountains – “rural density,” he called it. He had expected to see most of the country’s population living in the cities and plain areas, with a few houses scattered throughout the rest of Nepal’s mountain terrain. He was right to be surprised – it is incredible that people can survive out here, and have been doing it for generations. The word remote takes on a new meaning – just using that word alone does not do the reality justice.

Our research team at the conclusion of our trip to Kheen!

The data collection phase of the project is just about complete – next is getting it all organized and analyzed. The goal is with the information that we have collected to create an easily digestible overview of the status of health throughout Kalikot- which will hopefully be used as a tool for groups working in development throughout the district. More to come soon as I chronicle the process and my experiences!

 

Observations from Nepal

The remarks and observations below were written by Kirk Adamson following his recent trip to Nepal.  Kirk is an Oda Board member and longtime friend of Oda Founder John Christopher.

I recently visited JC in Nepal with a friend of mine and wanted to send around some of my thoughts and observations.  Despite being very familiar with the charity, seeing it first hand was really eye opening as it was a truly unique cultural experience. 

 Photo from Oda - After Holi Celebrations

Photo from Oda - After Holi Celebrations

Oda is very, very remote

After flying into Kathmandu, you stay in the City for the night.  The next day, you need to take a 1.5 hour flight to Birendranagar, the capital of the Surkhet District (1 of 75 districts in Nepal).  Then you need to drive 5-6 hours on a single lane, partially paved road without guard rails through the mountains where most of the time you drive along a steep cliff meandering along blind corners every 50 feet or so.  It was terrifying.  You then stay for the night in Manma, the capital of the Kalikot District, at a very basic hotel.  The next morning, you drive for one more hour and arrive at a small village along the road.  You then hike for 3 hours, with 2 river crossings and 2 mountain crossings to arrive in Oda.  Saying Oda is remote doesn't do it justice.  You are off the grid. 

 Walking through the fields of Oda

Walking through the fields of Oda

I was shocked to see JC's original accommodations the first year he lived in Oda

The size of the mud floored room John lived in was probably 35 square feet with <5 ft ceilings.  He lived in the village among the c.2,000 inhabitants of Oda.  While his current accommodations on the second floor of the health center are still very basic, it is infinitely better than what he first experienced.

 JC and the Oda community have a strong affinity toward one another

There is a mutual respect, appreciation and friendship.  The community is very grateful for JC's social impact on their community.  JC clearly loves the community, knows literally everyone's name and has a unique connection with the c.1,200 children under the age of 10 that live in Oda (c.60% of the population). 

 The Oda Foundation is really a community development platform rather than just a health clinic

While the health clinic takes the lion share of the funding, JC has built the nicest classroom in the Kalikot District.  The classroom has a computer specifically created for the developing world pre-loaded with everything on Wikipedia + various teaching tools so it doesn't require an internet connection.  It has a local Nepali teacher (+ an American volunteer) who teach 3 sections of students in the mornings from 6-9am and 3 sections of students in the afternoons from 5-8pm (c.300 students per day, 6 days a week).  Just before class starts, you see students running from all directions to make it to class on time.  While the health clinic is more tangible and easier to quantify, the classroom helps with community buy-in and support for the Foundation as the local schools struggle with inadequate resources and teacher absenteeism. 

 

Karan appears to be a great manager to run the projects in Oda

This transition is well underway and will help free up capacity for JC to plan out the next steps for the charity.

 

 Hope that's a helpful summary of my thoughts on the trip.  

 Best,

Kirk

 Photo overlooking Nepal's Largest Lake - Rara

Photo overlooking Nepal's Largest Lake - Rara

Thank You MedShare

For those of you who don’t know, 2015 was a year unlike any on record for Nepal.  While most people know about the April earthquakes that devastated Kathmandu and the surrounding areas, Nepal continues to suffer a more silent emergency due to civil unrest and an unofficial blockade on the Indian border.  It was during this year of immense challenges for Nepal that I received an email from Jason Chernock and the incredible team at MedShare. They explained to me that in response to the devastation that Nepal has sustained, the MedShare community united in an effort to provide relief through the donation of medical supplies and equipment.  From the very first call with the MedShare team I was impressed by their enthusiasm, candor, and desire to help Nepal.  During the summer of 2015 the Oda team worked hand in hand with MedShare to assemble a packing list, facilitate logistics, and deal with regulatory hurdles in order to bring vital medical supplies and equipment to Kalikot. 

 Supplies nearing the end of the 2 hour hike into Oda.

Supplies nearing the end of the 2 hour hike into Oda.

In November 2015 the hard work put in by the Oda and MedShare team culminated with the arrival of a 40 ft. container of donated medical supplies and equipment.  The shipment was greeted with enthusiasm by our team and many of the area’s top district government officials.  After several days of distribution, the supplies were almost immediately put to use – both by our health team at the Oda Foundation and by our partners in the local health posts.  Since the arrival of the shipment in November, supplies have been distributed to 2 hospitals and 30 partner health posts, which serve over 150,000 Nepali people.

On behalf of everyone in Oda & Kalikot thank you so much for your incredible support.  It could not have come at a better time and will continue to provide relief in rural Nepal for months and years to come!

 Karan Singh providing the ceremonial first box of supplies to District Health Officer and Friend Dr. Shankar Lohala.

Karan Singh providing the ceremonial first box of supplies to District Health Officer and Friend Dr. Shankar Lohala.


Reusable is Best

In the remote mountains of Kalikot, an area that faces serious transportation issues due to geographical and infrastructural challenges, the availability of feminine hygiene products is limited, if not totally lacking. This coupled with the low socio-economic status of many of Kalikot’s families, means that the options available for many girls and women to manage their period each month is restricted. Furthermore, in a remote area like Kalikot, methods like disposable pads and tampons become less viable when you consider how waste is disposed of. In Kalikot (and in much of Nepal) there is no landfill or mainstream method of garbage collection and disposal – meaning that all waste that is collected is either discarded around the village - or if there is a more significant amount of waste, set on fire near the home. In a setting such as this for both economical and environment reasons, reusable is better.

The organization Days For Girls is working to address this problem and has developed a reusable maxi-pad kit that has proven to be very effective. With the help of Mia Amicas Globally, and local women’s centers here in Nepal we have been able to bring over 3,000 kits to Oda. In each kit there are two moisture barrier shields which snap around the underwear and hold the pads in place, eight absorbent pads, one pair of underwear, and a cloth drawstring bag to transport your kit.

 Kit Distribution in Pakha

Kit Distribution in Pakha

Over the past year we have distributed nearly 700 kits throughout our area, and just recently traveled to the neighboring community of Pakha to distribute an additional 200. In our most recent disbursement, we travelled to Pakha school and had a 20 minute meeting with the girls in each grade to discuss how to use the kits, and good hygiene practices during menstruation. So far the feedback that we have received has been incredibly positive, and we hope that through continued distribution of these kits communities will begin to see more confident girls and women, and better school attendance.

The Pakha girls with their new kits.

Our team has recently begun to conduct a health survey throughout the district, and a few of the questions that we ask mothers in our interviews pertain to menstruation. While the study has just begun, thus far none of the mothers that we have spoken with use anything to manage blood flow during menstruation. Moreover, almost every mother documented that she does not sleep inside her home during her period. We recognize that we cannot uproot deep-seeded cultural practices and local stigmas overnight – but we hope that our efforts will be a small part of the solution to help girls and women feel more healthy and confident.   

Where we're going we don't need roads...

One of the most defining characteristics of our community in Kalikot, Nepal is the remoteness of our area. With only one seasonal road passing through the district, the only mode of transportation for many people is on their own two feet. The village of Oda is nestled on a hillside located about 2 hours walking from the main road. This means that in order to bring supplies to the village, family members must make this 4-hour round trip journey with regularity (not to mention that about 75% of our community walk EVERYWHERE in flipflops).

 Woman and Girls resting on the walk to Oda with necessary household supplies.

Woman and Girls resting on the walk to Oda with necessary household supplies.


The obvious next question is… how do you run a health clinic in a community that faces such accessibility challenges? This is one of the greatest struggles that the Oda Foundation team has to deal with almost daily – and yet is exactly the reason that it is so critical that we are working where we are. The remoteness of our district and immediate community means that many of the aid organizations that work throughout Nepal, are absent in our region. This in conjunction with the reality that the local government faces issues surrounding accountability and an extremely limited budget, means that there are MASSIVE holes in the services and opportunities that all Nepali people need to maintain their health and well-being.

  A young woman with a burn wound being carried to Oda.

A young woman with a burn wound being carried to Oda.

With regular medicinal, euipment, and food demands, our team works really hard to ensure that we have everything that we need to care for our team and for every patient who passes through our doors. Needless to say – our team and community members have some pretty insane leg muscles!

 John Walking it in to Oda

John Walking it in to Oda

 Advisory Board Chair Peter Lawrence Making the Trek to Oda

Advisory Board Chair Peter Lawrence Making the Trek to Oda


*

London Visit

 Catching up with Doctor Kate Yarrow of Doctors for Nepal!

Catching up with Doctor Kate Yarrow of Doctors for Nepal!

Hi Everyone. 

I just returned from London where we had an incredibly productive week.  We garnered a tremendous amount of support for initiatives we are planning to kick off in the coming year and made some great new friends.

The week was highlighted by an event hosted by The Funding Network on Monday evening.  The crowd was tremendous, and we received positive support and feedback surrounding an education and outreach program we plan to kick off this month.   The Funding Network is an incredible organization, focused on providing necessary funds to get young Non-Profits like Oda off the ground.  The support we received, in addition to support from the International Foundation puts us in incredible position to more than double our reach in the coming year.  For more information on this program, please see the video below which discusses Oda, where we were, where are are today, and where we are going in the next 12 to 18 months.

In addition to the event, I had the opportunity to meet with some other people and organizations doing amazing work in Nepal including Tobyn Thomas of CAIRN and Kate Yarrow, a good friend and founder of Doctors for Nepal.  We’ve been very fortunate to meet and work with some incredible people along the way, and  are looking forward to future collaboration!

 

First Impressions

Hi Everyone.  Today's post was written by our new community health fellow, Safira.  She will be working with us for the next 7 months, focused predominately on early childhood and maternal health and nutrition programs.  Expect to see updates from her work in the weeks and months to come!

I have been living in Oda for six days now, and I am starting to settle into the pace of life here in the western mountains of Nepal. John’s descriptions and pictures have not done this place justice – not for a lack of trying, but it is truly impossible to accurately capture the many nuances that make this place special. BUT, in spite of this impossibility, I will try my best.

My arrival in Kalikot was greeted by a welcoming party of what seemed to me to be the entire village of Oda. The road to Kalikot is long and winding, and just when you think the journey is over, you arrive in the town of Sarabada where you must then leave the road for a narrow walking path and 2 and half hours of hiking. John and I were met at the road by about 25 people, all ready to make the trek with us and help carry the supplies and medicine that we had brought with us. John and I spent the entirety of the walk surrounded by a group of the sweetest 12-15 year olds, who kept trying out English phrases like “please walk slowly” and “don’t slip!” – phrases that John had clearly taught them after making this same journey countless times.

IMG_4182.jpg

The village of Oda is situated on the top of a steep slope, and one of the first sites that you see as you make it over the hill is the Oda Clinic. The little compound is nestled into the side of the hill, blending in with the green backdrop of the village behind it. One of John and Karan’s priorities during the construction phase of the building was to ensure that the final product did not stand out too much in comparison to the structures that surround it. They succeeded – creating what feels to me like a little sanctuary in the middle of the mountains.

DSCN1664.JPG

 

The village rhythm here in Oda moves slowly, and I feel like after only a few days I have fallen in sync with relative ease. My first week in Oda has been dedicated to getting to know the team and the surrounding community – and internally taking stock of the way that things work in this remote part of the country. The Oda Foundation team has shown me endless levels of warmth and patience, always willing to talk me through things that I do not understand, waiting without complaint as I slowly and ungracefully translate my thoughts into Nepali words. John and Karan have truly done an amazing job in choosing a group of people who not only have been very successful in their specific roles, but also seem to be incredibly supportive of one and other. How lucky I am to be team member number 10.

Working with the medical staff this week has renewed my energy for the work that I will be doing while I am here. In the district of Kalikot a striking 54% of children under the age of five suffer from stunted growth as a result of poor nutrition. A year ago, I was fortunate enough to work with the US based nutrition NGO 1,000 Days, and ever since have been fascinated by the impact that certain seemingly basic behavior changes can have on the life span and quality of life of young children, specifically in the context of developing countries. This has inspired the direction of my work this year, which will be to design a maternal and early childhood nutrition program, with the goal of reaching mothers and babies throughout the surrounding community. This project is still in the very early stages of development, but I think I have successfully accomplished the most important step, which is to surround myself with unbelievably bright and passionate people. More updates to come!

 




Looking Forward

In addition to spending time with family and friends, while I was home I spent a great deal of time working with a number of people and soliciting advice about the future of our work in Oda.  We have a lot of exciting new plans in the works for the organization this coming year. In a couple of weeks we will be kicking off a district-wide outreach and education campaign focused on health education and nutrition for girls and women. We will be monitoring the success of our programs very closely, and hope to see a corresponding reduction in school absenteeism among post-pubescent girls and lower rates of childhood stunting in our community.  Through close partnerships with the local government and our local community of amazing women we hope to reach thousands of girls and women across the district!

 We will be expanding on a successful education campaign that took place in Oda last year

We will be expanding on a successful education campaign that took place in Oda last year

Special thank you to Oda’s Board and Advisory Board for their continued support, Safira Amsili who will be running point on the outreach program, Cheryl Strauss Einhorn for her guidance, MIAMICA’S Globally for their incredible in-kind contribution of reusable maxi pad kits, and Dr. Shankhar Lohana of the Kalikot District Health Office for his buy-in and support.  

We’ve been incredibly fortunate to have such a wonderful team of supporters - none of this work would be possible without your continued support!
 

 

New Oda Rockstar

I am getting settled into Kathmandu, but I wanted to pass along a quick personnel update.  2 weeks ago we hired Jagat Thapa, and so far he has been a superstar.   Jagat is an HA (Health Assistant), which required 3 years of medical training and is the highest certification short of a full doctor in Nepal.  Not only does he speak incredible English, but he really takes the mission to heart and is already making a huge difference.  Just the other day, a young girl came in with meningitis, and Jagat monitored her vigorously, making sure that we were doing everything we could to help her.  That included visits to her home and phone calls to her parents to make sure she was progressing as expected.  In addition to strong report with the people, Jagat has also been invaluable to me.  He has taken the lead on data collection and monitoring, and recently accompanied me to the district health office, where he met with Government Officials on Oda’s behalf.   In the future we expect Jagat to run point on a community health outreach and education campaign which we are planning in coordination with the district government, I will update more on that soon!

We are thrilled to welcome Jagat to our team, and feel extremely fortunate to have added another piece to an incredible puzzle.  I’d also like to thank all of you, without your continued support we would not be able to make hires like this…which are imperative to our work in Nepal.  Thank you!

Usha's Story

I’ve been meaning to type up more about the people that we work with on a daily basis.  To date, I’ve spent so much time looking at per patient costs, the number of avoidable deaths reduced, and the sheer number of patients our little project has been able to take care of… that I have glossed over the stories that make this place so special, it is the people of this place that are so inspiring and it is these people that continually inspire me…much more than any data point could!  In light of this, one of my major goals is to better chronicle the people of Oda and their stories. 

 My first winter with Usha, her daughter Ramita, Bandana and Taju.

My first winter with Usha, her daughter Ramita, Bandana and Taju.

A great place to start is with a family, and specifically a 20 year old mother, next door that continually inspire me.  Usha Malla, is a beautiful, intelligent, and kind hearted neighbor of ours in Oda.  When I first arrived in Oda, Usha and her brothers Yaga, Hansa, and Hikmat were 3 of the first people I met.  Their warmth, smiles, and dance moves created an instant connection and Hansa, the middle brother is a major reason behind why the project turned towards health.  When I first met him, he was a delight despite the scabbies all over his body…And at that time there was next to nothing he could do beyond smile and bear the pain.  It was after this first interaction, that I knew we had to focus on health.

Hikmat, Hansa, and Yaga below:

During my first trip I also learned that just a couple months earlier, Usha’s mother had died from an unexpected aneurysm.  It wasn’t until a few months later that I learned that their father was dying of COPD, and had just a few more months to live.  Despite caring for her brothers, her father, and her young daughter, Usha always took time to come over say hello and help out in our early months.

 Usha's father's last photo was taken with her daughter Ramita. &nbsp;This photo proudly hangs in their house.

Usha's father's last photo was taken with her daughter Ramita.  This photo proudly hangs in their house.

Following the death of her Father, Usha became the head of the household watching over her daughter Ramita, and her brothers.   In the months following the death of her father, she facilitated Hikmat’s move to Kathmandu and Hansa’s move to Kohlpur where they are currently studying.  In the face of these challenges, Usha doubled down on her desire to contribute to her community and support our mission.

When we first decided to move to our new facility, Usha was the first person to come forward and immediately offered a portion of her families land for the project.  In a community of subsistence farmers, land is an enormous gift.   While they did not have much, she wanted to contribute to what was going on in Oda, and gave a significant chuck of land left behind by her father.  In response to this act of generosity, we told Usha that she could use some of this land to move her small shop near the hospital.  This would allow her take advantage of the people travelling long distances to reach Oda.  On a daily basis, when she’s not working the fields or taking care of her daughter Ramita, Usha is cooking chow chow, making tea, and running her small shop to support her family.

 Usha's shop where she serves upwards of 50 people a day coming to visit the hospital.

Usha's shop where she serves upwards of 50 people a day coming to visit the hospital.

Her entrepreneurial spirit, positive attitude, and willingness to help not just her family but the project are just a few of the reasons I admire and respect her and her family so much.  Despite such enormous personal loss, Usha continues to be a source of optimism and perseverance and whenever I’m feeling discouraged I can look to her. 

 Usha taking a break from work for a quick photo!

Usha taking a break from work for a quick photo!


Return to Oda

Hi Everyone!

It has been a busy couple of days, but it is so great to be back in Oda! I am currently stuck in the district capital due to rain, so I wanted to take this time to pass along a few quick updates from the trip out here.  The transition to Oda has been one of the easiest yet, as I was accompanied by my good friend Peter Lawrence who also happens to be the chair of the Oda Foundation Advisory Board. The trip from Kathmandu to Oda was a little bit hectic due to a huge shutdown in Western Nepal, but with a little help from some friends, we were able to move through the country with relative ease. 

 This graphic (Thanks to SunFarmer) shows the standard trip from Kathmandu to Oda. &nbsp;Thankfully this trip can be truncated with a domestic flight from Kathmandu to Surkhet.

This graphic (Thanks to SunFarmer) shows the standard trip from Kathmandu to Oda.  Thankfully this trip can be truncated with a domestic flight from Kathmandu to Surkhet.

To deal with the shutdown we were helped at every step of the journey by Police Escorts in the Surkhet, Dailekh, and Kalikot Districts.  Fortunately after a couple of years on the ground, our relationships are strong enough to call in favors when we need them!

 Peter with our Surkhet police escort.

Peter with our Surkhet police escort.

 

Upon arriving in Manma we went directly to the district Hospital, where Karan was waiting with his wife (one of our CMA’s) Sarita and their new baby boy.  The timing could not have worked out better, as their son was born just hours before my arrival… I am so happy that I was able to be there with my Partner on such a special day!

 Karan's New Baby Boy

Karan's New Baby Boy

After a day in Manma we made the Journey to Oda where we worked our way up the mountain slowly with Sarita, Karan, and a gaggle of other well wishers tagging along to greet Peter and Karan’s new baby.  Upon arriving in Oda we were met with another army of people - I was flooded with happiness seeing everyone again after several months away in the US.  

 Arrival in Oda

Arrival in Oda

As for Oda Medical, things are running better than when I left!  On our first day in Oda, Peter spent the day in the clinic with Mim Karki, and saw as 48 people came in through our doors over the course of the day, coming from near and far to receive care from our team.

 Peter and Dr. Mim in the Pharmacy

Peter and Dr. Mim in the Pharmacy

I plan to organize my thoughts and takeaways from the return trip in much more cogent fashion when I return to Oda after this storm!  I will also be including a big update about what was accomplished over the last 4 months in America, and the exciting things we have planned for the coming year.

Thank you all for your continued support of our work…without you none of this would be possible. Until then, Hi from Oda!



Volunteer Highlights!

This video highlights the stay of Laura Faferek and Emelyne Tota and their recent stay at The Oda Foundation...with special guests Bobby Christopher ,Karan SinghErin Fox, and Agent De Voyage, Rijen Shahi.

We are currently looking for a new set of motivated hands collaborate with our team to run the Oda Foundation’s New Community and Education Center. While the focus of our work is medical, we are committed to the education of all the kids in Oda! Please sent me a message if you or anyone you might know might be interested in joining our team!

Sad News

We often post pictures of smiling kids and members of our community in Oda to illustrate the beauty of the people and the place where we work. In spite of this beauty, there is no getting around the reality that Oda is an incredibly challenging place to live. This hit home for when we learned yesterday that Darna Singh, who was a student in Oda passed away. Darna, a fifth grader, was helping his parents pull fire wood from a rushing river, when he slipped and fell in. Despite the best efforts of his friends to save him, the river was too high and he did not make it. It is incredibly difficult to process news like this from the US, but is a reminder of the hardships people in Kalikot face every day. Our team in Oda is doing their best to support Darna’s family through this devastating time.


Summer Update

It’s been some time since I’ve updated the news portion of the website.   Things have been going very well in Nepal, and we have several exciting announcements for the coming weeks and months, including major organizational milestones that we’ve recently reached.   Over the past two months I’ve been in the US focused on awareness and administrative work (including the about page of our site!), while Karan continues to work in Nepal to run day to day operations in Oda.  In addition to running Oda Medical, we’ve developed deeper relationships with the District Government, and recently hosted them and co-sponsored a health camp with their team.  I’ve been extremely fortunate to have a team that is working for all of the right reasons, led by Karan who cares so deeply about the work.  Below please check out some recent pictures of our progress in Oda including a chart which shows the number of patients visiting us relative to last year at this time.

The pictures above show (clockwise from top left)  IV's being administered in our new patient hall, Director Karan Singh meeting with District Officials in Oda, Facility Progress, Facility Progress.

The uptick in patients per month is a testament to our team in Nepal led by Karan and Mim Karki. As word of Oda spreads throughout the District, people have come from increasingly daunting distances, and 7 hour trips (14 hours roundtrip) are commonplace. Thanks to our new facility and your support we have the ability to treat more patients to a higher standard.

 

Dhan dai's Song!

Everyday in Oda my brother Bobby spends two or three hours working with our staff on a range of things.  Some days this means working through computer files to show them how to file expenses and track inventory.  Other days it turns towards English language tutoring , an area where our team has made HUGE gains.  The song below is a popular folk song in Nepal, that is adapted to celebrate events and people. Coincidentally, this is Bobby's absolute favorite Nepali Folk song...making  this version particularly fun because our Office Manager,  Dhan Bahadur Singh (Dhan dai  (dai=Big Brother)), celebrates his "Guru" Bobby for all the hard work he's put in with the staff.  Dhan dai has a great voice, enjoy!!

  &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;    &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;The man behind the voice...Our office Manager,&nbsp;Dhan dai!!!

                     

                                                                                                                           The man behind the voice...Our office Manager, Dhan dai!!!

May 12, Earthquake Upate

Tremors from today's earthquake were felt at The Oda Foundation, but everyone is safe. Below are some pictures of the damage from the April 25 quake, which destroyed multiple classrooms and houses in Oda.

Everyone continues to pray for people in the most affected areas, and applaud everyone supporting the immediate relief efforts. This has been an incredibly challenging time for Nepal, but seeing the people of Nepal rise to meet these challenges has made made us even prouder to call it Nepal home.  Like April, today's disaster underscores the need for rural Nepalese to have sound basic healthcare options.

  &nbsp;The damage at one of the schools from the April 25 earthquake. Thankfully it took place on a Saturday, and class was not in session

 The damage at one of the schools from the April 25 earthquake. Thankfully it took place on a Saturday, and class was not in session

  The damage form the April 25 earthquake to one of the older houses in Oda, it collapsed entirely.

The damage form the April 25 earthquake to one of the older houses in Oda, it collapsed entirely.

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to All! This Mother’s Day, The Oda Foundation would like to thank all our generous donors who helped us acquire hundreds of birthing kits over the past two years especially Adriel McIntosh BookerMia Amicas GloballyCara Valentino, and the Love A Mama Community. Delivery of quality health services in remote areas remains an enormous challenge in Nepal especially among women and children. We are committed to improving maternal health for those who need it most, and making the world a better place for mothers and children. Make a difference and support our work atOdaFoundation.org

 One of Oda's newest residents, brought into the world with the help of of our community &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;health workers Sarita Singh.

One of Oda's newest residents, brought into the world with the help of of our community                                                                      health workers Sarita Singh.

 One of community health workers&nbsp;Sarita Singh making a home visit with a hygienic birth kit.

One of community health workers Sarita Singh making a home visit with a hygienic birth kit.

Impact on Oda & Rural Health in Nepal

After my previous update I received a large number of emails asking how the earthquake will impact the Oda Foundation's rural health and education services in the days and weeks to come. This email is intended to give you a brief update, and provide you with information on how you can help.

While the Foundation and its immediately surrounding area emerged unscathed from the earthquake, the impact of the ensuing crisis on us will likely be significant. Kathmandu is the countries main transportation hub for supplies and staff. The damage to the region means that our access to medicine and personnel may be affected.  This means the Oda Foundation will likely face increased costs, more challenging logistics, and greater uncertainty heading forward.

At the same time, Oda is busier than ever addressing the needs of the people in the Kalikot district. The number of Nepalese treated at the clinic has steadily increased and is currently running at more than 40 per day, partly in response to a recent outbreak of swine flu. The local government is relying on our support--as are our patients, who have been drawn to the clinic by our reputation for success.
 
We want to proactively prepare for potential increased costs and logistical challenges resulting from the earthquake and swine flu outbreak by raising additional funds to ensure that we can maintain an uninterrupted flow of needed medicine and supplies. If you would like to help us with this effort, contributions can be made online at the Oda Foundation's Website. Donations in any amount would be greatly appreciated and can certainly be put to good use.  
 
We are thankful for the incredible generosity the global community has shown in response to this natural disaster. The Foundation will be here to support the Nepalese during this crisis and afterward as the country rebuilds. 
 
To help those immediately impacted by the earthquake, please also consider supporting the International Medical Corp or the America Nepal Medical Foundationearthquake relief fund and their efforts led by Dr. Bijay Acharya.
 
Thank you for all of your past support and ongoing interest in The Oda Foundation.
 
John Christopher
Director