News Blog

 Latest News From Our Volunteers in Nepal


Nepal remains one of the poorest countries in the world and has been plagued with political unrest and military conflict for the past decade. In 2015, a pair of major earthquakes devastated this small and fragile country. 

Since 2008, the Acupuncture Relief Project has provided over 300,000 treatments to patients living in rural villages outside of Kathmandu Nepal. Our efforts include the treatment of patients living without access to modern medical care as well as people suffering from extreme poverty, substance abuse and social disfranchisement.

Common conditions include musculoskeletal pain, digestive pain, hypertension, diabetes, stroke rehabilitation, uterine prolapse, asthma, and recovery from tuberculosis treatment, typhoid fever, and surgery.

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Episode 1
Rural Primary Care

In the aftermath of the 2015 Gorkha Earthquake, this episode explores the challenges of providing basic medical access for people living in rural areas.

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Episode 2
Integrated Medicine

Acupuncture Relief Project tackles complicated medical cases through accurate assessment and the cooperation of both governmental and non-governmental agencies.

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Episode 3
Working With The Government

Cooperation with the local government yields a unique opportunities to establish a new integrated medicine outpost in Bajra Barahi, Makawanpur, Nepal.

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Episode 4
Case Management

Complicated medical cases require extraordinary effort. This episode follows 4-year-old Sushmita in her battle with tuberculosis.

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Episode 5
Sober Recovery

Drug and alcohol abuse is a constant issue in both rural and urban areas of Nepal. Local customs and few treatment facilities prove difficult obstacles.

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Episode 6
The Interpreters

Interpreters help make a critical connection between patients and practitioners. This episode explores the people that make our medicine possible and what it takes to do the job.

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Episode 7
Future Doctors of Nepal

This episode looks at the people and the process of creating a new generation of Nepali rural health providers.

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Compassion Connects
2012 Pilot Episode

In this 2011, documentary, Film-maker Tristan Stoch successfully illustrates many of the complexities of providing primary medical care in a third world environment.

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From Our Blog

Acupuncture Relief Project  | Good Health Nepal | Maggie Shao

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 at his chart and note he started daily acupuncture treatments two months earlier.  I ask him what are his goals for treatment and he states "I want to use right hand to eat (Nepalis use their right hand to gather and mix and bring to their mouth dal bhaat - the mainstay of the Nepali diet) and to shave himself. I test his grip strength, simply asking to grab my two fingers and squeeze, comparing his right and left hand strength.  His right grip is comparable to his left hand, however, when I test his dexterity, he is unable to pick up a pen with his right hand as his attempts result in his repeatedly dropping the pen.

Acupuncture Relief Project  | Good Health Nepal | Maggie Shao

I work with Ram Lal everyday and begin to see his powerful determination and tenacity.  He is always the first appointment, for he leaves his house at 4am or 5am to walk an hour to the clinic arriving before sunrise in freezing cold, so that his ID card is the first in the pile for appointments for the day.  I give him different exercises to regain his dexterity, stretching an elastic band over his right hand and extending his fingers against the resistance. I gather 50 different shaped pebbles and give them to Ram Lal to pick up each pebble and place into a bottle. As I go to do my morning Qigong, I notice he is waiting for the clinic to open and I begin a Qigong practice at 7am with him.  The Qigong exercises help him with his balance, integrating the right and left hemisphere of his brain, setting new pathways for mobility and coordination.  I am inspired as other patients also waiting practice Qigong along with us. The last week, I give Ram Lal a ball with the world globe printed on it to grip and build strength in his right hand. I show him on the globe where I live in the USA and show him Nepal is almost exactly at the opposite side of the world.  He comes to treatment the following day and shows me how well he can grip the ball and I notice that most of the paint is already worn off, and I know he is determined to get well.

Acupuncture Relief Project  | Good Health Nepal | Maggie Shao

Two weeks before Camp B ends, I tell my regular patients that I will be leaving soon and new doctors will be coming in a few weeks to continue with their healthcare. At the end of this long day seeing 20 patients, my last patient, a new patient, is escorted in by two women holding and helping a 49 year old woman who appears so frail, I lay her on the bed, instead of sitting her up in the chair, she appears so weak.  I am told by her sister-in-law that my patient had a stroke 2 months ago, stayed 13 days in a Kathmandu hospital and is paralyzed on the left side.

Acupuncture Relief Project  | Good Health Nepal | Maggie Shao

My patient Maili does not speak much, I do some sensory testing and deep tendon reflexes, and she can barely respond to my inquiries and testing. Her countenance is gray and dull. I push away my feeling of helplessness - what can I do? and proceed to explain the long road to recovery and no certainty of full recovery. Is she willing to agree to a treatment plan of ten daily visits of acupuncture to begin with and at the 10th visit, we will evaluate if there is a positive result? Her sister-in-law answers for her that she will bring her daily. Maili's left hand is swollen almost twice the size of her right hand, edema of the limbs is a common aftermath after stroke. Maili came the next day, looking a little stronger and able to sit up for the treatment.  Treatment includes scalp acupuncture points, electrical stimulation, needles in extensor muscles opposing the contracted flexed muscles in her left hand and leg.  By the 4th treatment she is walking in with the aid of a walking stick and her sister-in-law by her side.  Maili is more alert and speaks more and I find out she is a widow-her husband died 22 years ago, she does not have children, she lives with her husband's brother and his family and her goal is to regain use of her arm and leg to farm again. She reports a sharp pain in her leg is gone, and she can walk a short distance with just her walking stick without any assistance.  By the 6th treatment she is walking the distance from the clinic door to my station by herself with just her walking stick. By the 8th treatment she is smiling as she shows me her new ability to move her right leg voluntarily. 

Acupuncture Relief Project  | Good Health Nepal | Maggie Shao

My last day in clinic I begin the day with three of my stroke cases all sitting at my station waiting for treatment.  I notice the seating arrangement, on one side, Ram Lal one of my first patients, the 70 year old who inspires me and the other stroke patients with his motivation and tenacity and pride to regain what many of us take for granted, those activities of daily living like eating, shaving, even squatting by himself to use the toilet. His next goal is to drive a bus again, to honor his past career of safe driving that he won awards for during his 42 years driving a truck. On the other side, there is Maili, one of my last patient cases as I complete my seven weeks as a volunteer, and I wonder how much she will be able to recover with continued treatments with the practitioners coming for camp C, and my wish and hope and vision is Maili walking to her farm field and planting seeds, then harvesting the crops next season. Bookends. --- Maggie Shao


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Acupuncture Relief Project, Inc. is a volunteer-based, 501(c)3 non-profit organization (Tax ID: 26-3335265). Our mission is to provide free medical support to those affected by poverty, conflict or disaster while offering an educationally meaningful experience to influence the professional development and personal growth of compassionate medical practitioners.

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