News BlogLatest News From Our Volunteers in Nepal

 

Sarah Richards Massage Therapist Volunteer Nepal

I swear that when I asked the Wizard for the brain, he gave me the heart instead! Luckily, I have chosen a career path where leading with your heart is completely acceptable. For the last 10 years I've had a successful massage practice relying solely on my instincts, intuition and following my heart.

Here at the clinic in Chapagaon fear and anxiety have surfaced in me because we are asked to track results and do case studies like clinical practitioners. We need to quantify, measure and prove efficacy, and this is where that brain would prove to be a bit more useful!


While being here in Nepal, some of my insecurities have surfaced. The amazing  acupuncture practitioners constantly awe me with their breadth of knowledge, medical skills and healing abilities; rarely can I even speak their language! I've panicked a few times wondering what am I doing here? What were they thinking when picked me to come here? Are they gonna see right through me and realize that I don't feel like I know what I'm doing? I am so fearful  of letting them, and myself, down; being present, a good listener and showing compassion come easily for me, but here I also crave to be a good clinician as well.


Can't we measure our clinical progress with smiles, moments when a patient finally lets go, kind comments and gratitude? How about the gifts we receive in appreciation; don't  eggs, mustard greens, jello and homemade liquor count somehow?!

Maybe I'm struggling to track and measure my progress exactly and precisely as is desired, but here's what I can relay:

- I had a patient tell me that the gods are singing when I am working on her -  that has to count for something, right!?

- Mini Monks! I have made a couple of regular patients from the Buddhist monastery next door, which is for young monks ages 8-18, hence "mini". One has even asked for my email address in case he thinks of more questions to ask me.


- My schedule is booked with 10 massage patients almost every day, I became very popular very fast!

- I am called "Doctor Sarah" here, so at least it sounds like I know what I'm doing!

- I've had a patient weep on the table because she is overwhelmed that she has somewhere to go where people genuinely want to be kind to her and take care of her.

- I get feedback from the acupuncturists that patients are loving their massages and they are feeling better. And the acupuncturists, since they are treating so many patients community style, are appreciative that there is someone spending more hands on time with the patients since that can be a critical piece of healing.

- I have had the pleasure of adding Tibetan singing bowls to my treatments. These are antique bowls that when massaged properly make an amazing sound and vibration. It has been a powerful tool, the sound and vibrations reach inside and massage where I cannot touch. The patients recognize the bowl as, well a bowl, like something they might cook in, and at first are not sure how it could possibly help them. But once it starts singing they relax in a way that my hands cannot always achieve on these rigid Nepali bodies.


- I have patients who could have acupuncture at one of our satellite clinics closer to their home, but travel 1.5 hours by bus to our main clinic because I am here. One such gentleman has improved greatly but continues to make the journey each week because he enjoys his massage so much. He has invited me to visit him in his home and is planning to bring two other family members to see me.

- I am co-treating a patient with daily massage and acupuncture, this young man has contorted his spine in order to relieve the pain he feels from a herniated disc. He gets up off the massage table smiling and his mood shifts from sullen to happy, his body standing 50% straighter and with significantly less pain.

I came here to be challenged, to expand and grow. I have 3 weeks left to grow as much as I possibly can in beautiful Nepal. I think that I am constantly challenged by my own limitations, but in order to move forward I need to love and embrace those limitations first, and then I can set them aside. I am using this blog post to help me see myself a little more clearly, and now I can't wait to get back in the treatment room and love my patients the best way I know how!

Next time I'm in Oz I'm gonna thank the Wizard for choosing to give me the heart!

Insecurities Secured

What am I doing here?
To share and expand.

Why me?
Only you can do what you do.

Am I good enough?
You are perfect enough.

Am I smart enough?
Never stop learning.

Will I make a difference?
Every second.

---Sarah Richards

More Articles

  • The Work of Farming

    The Work of Farming

    I’ve been moving around for awhile, but for most of my life I lived in one place. There is much to be said about having roots and feeling at home.

    Read More
  • Everyday Acupuncture Podcast

    Everyday Acupuncture Podcast

    Here in the west we are used to seeing acupuncture clinics in an urban setting, and it is often sought as an adjunctive therapy used in combination with other modalities.

    Read More
  • Jatra: The goddess

    Jatra: The goddess

    Patients come on a first come, first served basis, often arriving a little before 6am, slipping their appointment cards under a designated stone on the reception window sill. Many will

    Read More
  • Beyond the White Coat

    Beyond the White Coat

    When I started fundraising for this volunteer trip, many friends asked me why I chose to come to Nepal with ARP, and my simple response was, “to step out of

    Read More
  • Baskets and Knees

    Baskets and Knees

    In the foothills of the Himalayas, Bhajra Barahi is made up of steep hills, the slopes of which have been terraced for farming. These plots of rice, cauliflower, mustard, squash,

    Read More
  • A Day in Bajrabarahi: Where There are No Doctors

    A Day in Bajrabarahi: Where There are No Doctors

    When we open the clinic doors at 8:30, there are usually already a handful of patients waiting outside in the crisp morning air. Patients arrive throughout the day. There are

    Read More
  • Ten Years in Nepal: A Tale of Three Brothers

    Ten Years in Nepal: A Tale of Three Brothers

    The day started like most days, a brisk late-autumn morning with a light frost on the ground and clear blue skies. A breakfast of churra (beaten dried rice), chickpeas and

    Read More
  • Death

    Death

    Today's topic: Death! (the author does not pick blog topics; the blog topics choose him) I began thinking about this after hearing that one of our ARP staff members, Tsering,

    Read More
  • Together We Drink Tea

    Together We Drink Tea

    The morning sunlight, through a gap in my curtain reaches onto my bed and teases my skin. I look outside the window to see beautiful blue sky above our mountain

    Read More
  • I love food

    I love food

    Fun fact, my body is 85% digestive tract with the rest being sensory and motor structures that assist me in attaining more food. My genetics are closely related to a

    Read More
  • Return to Baseline

    Return to Baseline

    As part of our long term goals in Nepal, it is our aspiration to train several Nepali born practitioners to serve in our clinics. We have partnered with a small

    Read More
  • Today, I am very happy.

    Today, I am very happy.

    After clinic one day I had the opportunity to experience a wonderful delve into the down country culture of the local folks I've befriended over the last couple weeks. Gunaraj,

    Read More
  • My Bone Problem

    My Bone Problem

    Today I fitted my elderly patient with her (hopefully) semi-permanent shoulder cast. This woman came into the clinic a few weeks ago. I remember treating her knee pain and when

    Read More
  • Worth it

    Worth it

    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

    Read More
  • More than just acupuncture

    More than just acupuncture

    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

    Read More
  • Trust The Process

    Trust The Process

    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

    Read More
  • Bookends

    Bookends

    At the beginning of my service with Camp B at Bajra Bahari, my first patient is a 70 year old male with right-side hemiplegia resulting from a stroke. I look

    Read More
  • The Magic of Determination

    The Magic of Determination

    I meet Buddhi for the first time at the end of the second last week of the camp. He had a stroke 5 years ago which affected the mobility of

    Read More
  • Groundlessness

    Groundlessness

    Nepal for me was a practice in being comfortable with the feeling of groundlessness. Have you ever been on a suspension bridge? Nepal I came to learn, is full of

    Read More
  • Birth

    Birth

    There was definitely a special something in the air that Saturday night. We had just had a fantastic day off from clinic visiting the home of one of our rock

    Read More
  • Two Realities

    Two Realities

    Has anyone ever seen the movie, or read the book The Hunger Games? I know it is a teen drama but I am not sorry to say I have done

    Read More
  • Compassion is the Communication

    Compassion is the Communication

    I come from a large Russian Orthodox family and an even larger community. I spent my childhood wondering what any limits might be. What would that look like, where would

    Read More
  • My Nepal Experience

    My Nepal Experience

    Nepal and people who live in this country, the Nepalese; where do I begin? It was sensory overload the moment our flight landed in Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal.

    Read More
  • Avoiding the Finish Line

    Avoiding the Finish Line

    Upon arrival to the ARP Clinic in Bajra Barahi, nestled amongst the peaceful tree covered hills in the countryside of Nepal, I sensed a note of an “uh-oh, what have

    Read More
  • The Heart of Good Healthcare

    The Heart of Good Healthcare

    It has been a pleasure to spend two months as part of the project living and working with the people of Sipadol and Bhaktapur. In retrospect my role as a

    Read More
  • Compassion Connects The Series

    Compassion Connects The Series

    In the aftermath of the 2015 Gorkha Earthquake, Andrew Schlabach, Director of the Acupuncture Relief Project and Tsering Sherpa, Director of Good Health Nepal begin a new primary care clinic

    Read More
  • The Interpreters

    The Interpreters

    For me, meeting the local interpreters, acupuncture students and our cook, and getting to know them on a personal level, has been the most amazing experience. The high unemployment rate

    Read More
  • Context is everything

    Context is everything

    Time is flying by and we have less than a week before this camp’s rotation is over and the clinic will close until September. The first week or so here

    Read More
  • The Pushing Away, Pulls You In.

    The Pushing Away, Pulls You In.

    When it's all said and done, leading a team in any capacity is not an easy job. Being a medical volunteer here also stretches each of us. I thank my

    Read More
  • Thank you Nepal

    Thank you Nepal

    3:38AM - can’t sleep. We have 6 days left of clinic. For those patients we see only once a week, today will be our final goodbye. A lump forms in my

    Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

News Archive

Latest Instagram

Follow Us on Facebook

Your Donations Help

In addition to volunteering their time and energy, our practitioners are required to raise the money it takes to support their efforts at our clinic. Please consider helping them by making a tax deductible donation in their name.

DONATE NOW

Support our work

Donate Volunteer Get in Touch

Support Us