I spent the day traveling around Nepal with my new friends from Global Karuna to see the affected communities.
Our first stop was in Bhaktapur, the “Cultural Gem of Nepal” 20 km outside of Kathmandu where we saw toppled ancient Hindu and Buddhist temples/shrines.
It must be indescribably heart wrenching for the Nepalese to see their beloved national treasures destroyed. Many homes and lives were lost there with families sleeping in makeshift shelters or tents donated by the Chinese Red Cross Society. Many international relief agencies have come through providing first aid and general health checkups. Most people seem to just want to get back to a normal life.
We then drove north towards Sindhupalchock District near the epicenter of the 1st earthquake. Mountainous roads were treacherous. Oftentimes we struggled to pass through a gauntlet of dried mudslides and scattered boulders on mostly narrow cliff side dirt roads. As we drove further you would see village after village with completely destroyed brick and mortar homes.
We stopped at the Bahunipati Community Health Center which is badly damaged to the point that it is unsafe and had to be shutdown. To add insult to injury, the area had just built a beautiful new hospital next door that suffered major structural damage forcing the medical team there to see patients in a makeshift triage tent. Fortunately, a medical team of U.S. Doctors had just spent the week there conducting medical checkups.
Finally, we made it to the District Hospital which is the major health facility serving a catcent area of approximately 80,000 people. To my amazement, it really was more comparable to an urgicenter back home in size and capabilities. The doctors we spoke to said that they were grateful for all of the international medical assistance given by groups such as the Japanese, Canadien and Chinese Red Cross who setup a Level 1 basic field hospital next to the District hospital. In fact, one of the Canadien ER doctors there told me that most acute orthopedic injuries had been cared for by one of the 38 foreign medical teams working in Nepal.
We left and decided to turn back to Kathmandu to avoid the danger of driving in the dark. While driving back, we heard news of another aftershock in Kathmandu which thankfully was very mild.
This ends my brief stay in Nepal as I will be returning home tomorrow with much to ponder. This earthquake really shines a light on the vulnerability of the Nepalese people living in the remote mountainous villages. Even in our 4×4 SUV and a very seasoned driver, we narrowly missed driving off the side of a cliff on more than one occasion. I couldn’t help but wonder how people have to make this same journey when faced with serious problems like a failed childbirth or appendicitis at the District hospital requiring cesarean section and surgical intervention in Kathmandu.
Although there are no easy answers for these geographically isolated communities, I remain hopeful thanks to the flood of goodwill from the global community and most importantly from the determination of the Nepalese people like the young volunteers from Global Karuna.
I must also acknowledge and offer my deepest gratitude and respect to the huge efforts of all the first responders such as Dr. Sunita Aryal, Clara Maass Pediatric Hospitalist, who is here for 5 weeks conducting medical camps in and around Kathmandu.
I will continue to stay in touch with our friends in Nepal as we continue to support them through the monsoon season. It is my pledge to work with all parties to determine how Life is Great Global, Anatta World Health and the rest of the Barnabas Health community can support the future health of the wonderful Nepalese people.
God Bless Nepal!
– ErnaniLeave a reply →