News BlogLatest News From Our Volunteers in Nepal

 

I feel my time in Nepal (only 12 days so far... crazy, feels like a year) has already greatly stretched, opened and expanded my view of culture, community, self and life in general. A perspective and growth I think and hope will stay with me forever. I feel like every moment is packed with SO much stimulus, it can feel like an overwhelming sense of raw emotions... bursting and bubbling... trying to make sense of, integrate and digest everything at once, before the next moment, equally as intense and stimulating arrives. There is just so much to take in and process... (A little alone time each day for me is highly needed).

Being immersed in some Nepalese city life and culture in Kathmandu for a few days after arrival and introduction to our Acupuncture Relief Project team was a whirlwind of exciting events while we adjusted to our different time zones (America, Canada and Australia). On reflection some highlights include a trip on the back of Andrew’s (our team lead) motorbike from the airport to the earth house hotel. Goodbye Australia and hello Nepal... a complete cultural change!!! As the thick smog filters through my respiratory system, my eyes water from the smoke and speed of the bike, animals, pedestrians, bikes, motor vehicles and fuel trucks weave a path with many honks and near clashes, and I think back to my friend saying to me before I left that Nepal/India can often feel like you have landed in a completely different universe... yet the chaos to me feels so fluid and free and somehow I felt a sense of adrenaline, excitement and a great sense of LIFE!!!

We had a very warm welcome and I felt extremely safe and at home. I was already beginning to sense that Nepal was a place of unpredictability and really keeps you on your toes... literally... those first couple of days we did a lot of walking... exploring and discovering the city and some of its treasures... lead partly by Andrew along with some of his Nepalese friends/connections... who are very interesting and inspiring people who generously shared their stories, art and knowledge of the city, temples and hot spots. (And by hot spots I don’t mean wi-fi... a concept, which has become foreign to us in Kogate and at its mention our ears prick up with anticipated attention).

Some “hot spots” for me included the monkey temple ‘Swayambhunath’ where we had some great laughs watching many monkeys jumping and playing in a small water pool (remind me to show you a video of this) and a sacred site Pashupatinath where on one side of the river bodies are burned in funeral celebrations and on the other side there are temples for fertility. The way life and death are so connected here is very beautiful... A sense of impermanence and flow... Everything seems more out in the open... the rubbish being another example... instead of feeling disgusted by it I also see it gives another understanding that we use SO much unnecessary packaging and garbage in our society and here its just more ‘out there’. In Kogate all the rubbish we use we burn so it really gives you a more immediate idea of what and how much you bring/use/dispose of.

Our journey to Kogate was an adventurous funny, somewhat scary ride with all 7 of us packed into a jeep bobbing up and down with all the bumps, lots of screams of near close encounters with oncoming traffic around bends and the often sketch (Patty’s sketch scale rating) roads and lots of girly giggling (our poor driver ...a young Nepalese man who found enjoyment from telling us cars had just tumbled down the cliff the other day... totally NOT funny information while squeezed in the back of a jeep on that road!!!!).

We arrived somewhat relived, very hungry and tired.... Only the next day could I fully appreciate the beauty of our new home and its mountainous surrounds. There is a little running creek which today we bathed in on our one day off ... it felt lovely and was refreshingly cool. We have explored some of the little trails around after our clinic days and the beauty is very overwhelming and breathtaking... as is the altitude and the steepness!!!

Setting up the clinic was exciting and the first week has been both challenging and rewarding. The Nepalese people are very sweet and welcoming, funny and grateful. I think I have treated and seen more people/conditions in the first week than a whole semester at college! From pregnant women, young children to people in their 80’s and all different social classes they arrive at our clinic late morning and just keep rolling in ... often I have around 10 family members in the room all having their input into a particular case and getting involved (at first can be very overwhelming, along with the children piling around the windows all watching, sniggering and giving you shy smiles).

Being a “primary health worker” aka “famous white doctor” has been a big adjustment in my thinking and practicing mind and I have found working with new assessment tools and exams rather challenging yet I feel privileged to learn these new skills in practice and be able to help the people where is needed. Sometimes they don’t need acupuncture or herbs, they need a medical diagnosis or a referral or simply to be heard and listened to.

One of my patients I have seen everyday this week is an older man who suffered an ischemic stroke in late February and now is unable to speak. He comes in with his wife (a very caring beautiful lady) and is only able to sound “la la la” and is partially paralyzed on his right side. I have been treating him with acupuncture, using both electro and scalp acupuncture and also doing speech training with him. I sit in front of him (or Tessa, another volunteer who is helping out does) and we sound out the vowels getting him to watch us and try his best at copying our sounds. He finds this frustrating I think yet with the right encouragement he develops a big smile! This warms my heart and I feel so humbled by these people I have met who seem to have many health concerns yet are so open, happy and grateful. Many great qualities I will continue to aspire towards as my time here with Acupuncture Relief Project continues. - Anna Helms

More Articles

  • My Home Away From Home

    My Home Away From Home

    After living in Bajrabahari at the Acupuncture Relief Project headquarters for 3-1/2 months it has become my home. As I think about my “other home” in Portland Oregon it seems

    Read More
  • This Is A Place I Call “Home”

    This Is A Place I Call “Home”

    Sitting in front a window at the Roadhouse in Thamel, realizing I’ll be leaving Nepal in less than 8 hours, feel like unreal. There is a strong voice inside me

    Read More
  • Heart Wrenching at Times and Exhausting at Others

    Heart Wrenching at Times and Exhausting at Others

    It has been a month now I have been living in Bajrabarahi, Nepal and I am in a nice groove. I am consistently seeing around 15-20 patients a day in

    Read More
  • Walkabouts in Nepal’s Agricultural Nirvana

    Walkabouts in Nepal’s Agricultural Nirvana

    As an American Acupuncture volunteer for Acupuncture Relief Project (ARP) in Nepal, I stepped into an eastern culture that is a distant shadow of my own, regarding the traditional farming

    Read More
  • 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
  • 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