Acupuncture Relief Project | News from Nepal | Acupuncture Relief Project | Volunteer Community Health Clinic | Nepal

Acupuncture Relief Project  | Good Health Nepal | Hong Lu

Having lived my whole life in a developed country, with most of my needs magically looked after for me, it was a cultural shock to see the many inadequacies the Nepalese people experience. From the pollution in the air to the chaotic traffic conditions everywhere; from toddlers roaming the roads unsupervised to stray dogs scouring the streets searching for food; it seems there is little regulation among the people yet somehow, they find a way.

Acupuncture Relief Project  | Good Health Nepal | Hong Lu

I have had much to learn about the healthcare in Nepal. I have a young, female patient I have been treating in the Bhajrabarahi clinic. She has suffered from epigastric pain for over 15 years. In my first week in Nepal, I had a glimpse of her suffering having had a bout of dysentery from eating the wrong food. I experienced one night of diarrhoea yet she has suffered intermittent diarrhoea for so many years. I could only imagine how she continues to survive. Yet she finds a way.

Acupuncture Relief Project  | Good Health Nepal | Hong Lu 

I had another profound experience where a patient was exhibiting stroke like symptoms in the clinic. It was difficult to tell if he was in fact having a stroke at the time so the ambulance was immediately called. I was in fear for his life but compassionate in supporting him all the way. I discovered the ambulance would take an hour to arrive and the nearest hospital was a three-hour trip away. I was shocked beyond belief at the circumstances and questioned how he would ever survive. We finally determined that he had had a seizure and not a stroke. Two days later, he was back into our care. Somehow, despite all obstacles, he found a way. 

Acupuncture Relief Project  | Good Health Nepal | Hong Lu 

As I walk through the farming fields in Bajrabarahi, I am greeted by hardworking women carrying large baskets of heavy compost strapped to their foreheads. They focus their eyes on the ground in front of them and bend their upper torsos forward, to soldier on to their destination. I am in awe of their physical strength and stamina. However, the daily demands also mean that many of these women develop chronically painful knees and necks. I am grateful to have the opportunity to treat some of these women in the clinic. Their knees will never fully recover, yet they continue to work and they find a way.

Acupuncture Relief Project  | Good Health Nepal | Hong Lu 

These are some of the experiences I have thus far glistened in the clinic. I feel like a seed that’s in the perfect environment to grow. My growth is not limited to my work as a practitioner, but also as a human being. I honestly felt I was grateful for all that I was blessed with back home in Australia, but I am now infinitely more aware of how much I have. My admiration of the Nepalese people lies in their capacity to adapt to life’s circumstances and their amazing resilience to endure. The warm gratitude and friendly respect I receive from everyone here makes any sacrifice to be here absolutely worth it. --- Hong Lu

Acupuncture Relief Project  | Good Health Nepal | Zoe Nash

In Bimphedi, a small remote village in the hills south of Katmandu where the Acupuncture Relief Project has a clinic. There is also an orphanage. The children that are there are coming from the streets in Nepal, from broken families, from families where the parents died, from village around the country that get sent to Katmandu to get allotted around the country to different orphanages. 

It is a small community of children from the ages of 8-18, where they sleep in bunk rooms together, they eat together, they play together, they working the garden planting their vegetables and there is small school inside.  

Acupuncture Relief Project  | Good Health Nepal | Zoe Nash

The education curriculum provides the basic fundamentals of education. However basic level ‘sex’ education is not included. It is not subject that is comfortably spoken about in Nepal. This is partially problematic in an orphanage and these children do have a family unit in which they express themselves or discuss such topics with any close family member. 

This isolation and taboo matter that is an experience that all human being will go though can cause a suppression of emotions leading to either confusion or un-integrated ways of relating to others as they develop and move though adolescents.

We connected with the orphanage and together made a plan to give the children there an extra-curricular class on puberty.  

We entered the compound and children where playing football and other games in the field, enjoying their time to be free from duties. 

Acupuncture Relief Project  | Good Health Nepal | Zoe Nash

We walked about the garden, saw that they are growing their own vegetables that all the children have to out their hand into to. The area where they eat and large kitchen with pots of rice and dahl baht were being boiled in preparation for dinner time. We saw the rooms where they sleep, the simple bedrooms with no material possessions, toys or posters, just bunk beds and one small cabinet.

We went to the room where we were to teach to wait for the children to arrive. They came in and looked eager to hear what we had to share.  

Acupuncture Relief Project  | Good Health Nepal | Meghan Keysboe

We began to share through Tsering Sherpa interpreting, (one of the directors of the Acupuncture Relief Project). Meghan Keysboe a practitioner on the project began discussing the physiological changes that occur during puberty. What to expect in these times of change, or growth, how their bodies will change, their hair, their skin, their interests, and how normal all of this! Not to be alarmed or ashamed of any of these physical and physiological changes that are occurring that everyone goes though this and its totally normal and does not last for forever!  Some where already going puberty and found this communication about what was happening to them so refreshing and insightful, knowing they are not alone and that what is happening to them is healthy and a positive moment and change in their life. 

I spoke to them about diet and nutrient and how important it is to eat a balanced diet of fruit and vegetables and how junk food leads to illnesses such a diabetes, high blood pressure, and depression. 

Junk food is making its way to the remote areas of Nepal, biscuits, crisps and soft drinks which are causing nutritional deficiencies and sugar addiction in these areas. 

Acupuncture Relief Project  | Good Health Nepal | Jesse Jory

Lastly Jesse Jory the other practitioner on the project spoke to them about mindfulness at this time. How to take care of themselves emotionally like writing down their emotions, communicating to their teachers about what’s happening to them on a personal level, spending time in nature, and the importance of getting enough sleep. These are all very important tools to use in this time of turbulence and to find their centre point within themselves at this time in their lives will support them always though all the transitions in this lifetime. 

This experience was one of rich reward, seeing the children’s facial expressions of interest and understanding up as we spoke to them about matters that no one had addressed to them before.. 

This story is another example of how the Acupuncture Relief Project is building the community base and how we can broaden our positive impact in the areas and provide the missing pieces of education is really exciting for the development of the project and how it can continue to expand to serve the communities reaching out to these children.  --- Zoe Nash

Acupuncture Relief Project  | Good Health Nepal | Lucy Kervin

It’s been one week in Nepal and 3 days of clinic in Bajra Baraji. I’ve gone through so many emotions and learned so much about practicing primary care in a rural area. It’s been amazing but I have to admit that the first day of clinic was tough. That little voice in my head started saying stuff like, “You’re not a good enough practitioner, you don’t know enough, you can’t help anyone!” It’s hard enough to not let that voice rule over my thoughts in the best of times, let alone completely out of my element in a new country. I felt in over my head, seeing things like ear infections, gnarly wounds, ulcers and so many things I would refer out to a medical doctor back home. I was told the first week was going to be the hardest but I didn’t think that first day would end in tears. I barely made it to my room to wrap myself up in my zero degree bag to take some time to write in my journal.

Acupuncture Relief Project  | Good Health Nepal | Lucy Kervin

In our ARP clinic guide, it says “Trust The Process”, and that’s exactly what I needed to do at that moment: allow whatever was to just be. So I allowed myself to feel it all, the uncertainty, the loneliness, the self doubt. I closed my eyes and let those emotions fill my whole being. I began to imagine an older version of myself, the one who has been changed by this experience, who has been through this before. She knows you cannot heal the things you cannot feel, and she places her arms around me. I breathe out loving kindness and compassion to myself and the capacity grows. I am able to tend to myself like I would a child, pick myself up and hold tight; I am exactly where I need to be right now. 

Acupuncture Relief Project  | Good Health Nepal | Lucy Kervin

I woke up the next day feeling changed, stronger and more centered. It was Saturday, our day off from clinic. I was going to put all my things away, make a little home here, do some laundry and go for a hike in the hills. I love being in nature and was excited to see what was growing in the forested slopes I can see all around us at the clinic. On my way to meet up with the group, I had to hop over a small ditch, and I’m still not sure what happened except I hopped and then ended up face planting right into the ground. I was stunned. I think I had my hands in my pockets because my chin took the brunt of the fall. Immediately, folks from the village who were passing by ran up to help me. I felt ridiculous falling down like that, I hadn’t even reached the hills yet! But as I repeated “Thank you, thank you, I’m ok, I’m ok!” I could see the concern on their faces and got that sick feeling when you realize you hurt yourself more than you thought. I could feel something warm and wet running down my chin and the front of my jacket, I felt in my mouth, my lip was split. 

A former version of myself would have been furious with me at this point, but after my grounding session the night before I knew that being hard on myself was the last thing I needed at this point. I got back up to the clinic and called out to my supervisor, Bex. She took one look, “Yeah, that’s gonna need four stitches.” She was close, I got three.

Acupuncture Relief Project  | Good Health Nepal | Lucy Kervin

I’m on the mend now, taking a round of antibiotics and alternating between herbal washes and slatherings of neosporin. I know this happened for a reason, I don’t know the reason right now but I’m trusting the process. I told Lila, the health post assistant, who gave me the stitches and was very concerned for me, “No worries, I’ve had worse!” And it’s true. I’ve had a compound femur fracture, broken bones in both feet and both wrists, knee surgeries and a few laparoscopic surgeries. My body is covered in scars. One of my favorite authors, Clarissa Pinkola Estes says, “Be proud of the things you have endured. The scars are like a treasure map to the self, the deep self.” As I run my fingers across the scars on my body and feel for those healed wounds that you cannot see, I am proud. I am one of many wounded healers in this world. I look to my patients, I run my hands across their scarred bodies, see the things they have endured and am in awe. What I learn here will completely change who I am as a person and as an acupuncturist and will reverberate into so many areas of my life I cannot even begin to understand. I try to keep this in mind each day as I enter the clinic and allow this process to unfold.  -- Lucy Kervin

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