News BlogLatest News From Our Volunteers in Nepal


Sometimes trying to summarize an experience is more difficult than the experience itself. The past two days I have spent trying to get my mind around all of the things I would like to convey about my time in Nepal. After nearly 1000 patient treatments, sometimes my days were just a blur of painful knees and low backs but that doesn't account for the miriad of emotions that I feel now that I'm on my way back to the US. I'm sure just like a million other healthcare practitioners, I now have a thousand stories of my successes and failures in the treatment room. I hope, however, that through a few of these stories, you might come to see how a much of a journey of the spirit this has been for me.

One of the things I discovered along the path is a hidden interest in paralysis, strokes and other neurological disorders. I witnessed some profound changes in these conditions using acupuncture and I would like to share a few. Of course not everyone gets better and in this fact the journey really begins.


Meet Ganesh. At eighteen years of age he contracted bone tuberculosis in his upper back. This slow growing infection is difficult to kill and in one year's time it progressed to his spine completly distroying his T9 vertebre (a condition known as Pott's spine).


At twenty, Ganesh is a parapalegic, struggles with severe pain and is without any bladder control. Everyday, his father would carry him for over an hour to reach our clinic.


Of any case I have ever treated, this was one I dearly wished to have some effect. My treatment goals were to hopefully relieve his pain and to restore some bladder function. I treated Ganesh everyday for three weeks. He also suffered from constant tremors in his legs which gradulaly started to subside with treatment and his pain was reduced to just one location in his groin, however, that was all I could do. After 25 treatments the groin pain was still just as severe and his bladder control was unchanged. I'm left with the image of Ganesh's cheerful face and the thought... maybe 100 treatments... maybe 1000. Maybe it can't be changed at all... Maybe.


Anju is nine years old, very bright and very afraid of needles (who isn't). Her father brought her to see me because six weeks ago she suddenly developed drop foot (a condition in which the anterior and lateral muscles of the lower leg are paralysed and the foot helplessly drags on the ground when walking). Anju had recieved a diagnosis of leprosy (Hansen's Disease) from the hospital in Kathmandu and her father was rightfully freaked out. I didn't know alot about leprosy or how it is diagnosed but I read everything I could find and could not determine how Anju had received such a diagnosis other than the fact that she had drop foot. I supposed that peroneal nerve entrapment was a more likely diagnosis and reasoned that it should respond to tuina and acupuncture. I agreed to treat her everyday for 10 treatments and then reevaluate. After five treatments the foot was completley unresponsive and I was begining to despair. Anju's father anxiously asked everyday what he should do and I could feel his skeptisism and fear increasing as the days went by without change. I was begining to think that surgury might be a better treatment strategy when after the sixth treatment I asked Anju to lift her foot... it lifted. My interpeter and I nearly fell over with suprise and Anju's father openly wept. The foot was very weak but functional and I encouraged her father to bring her back for more treatment until she had fully recovered. I never saw her again. I can only hope that she enjoyed a rapid and full recovery... but I don't know that


Ganga, is a patient that I inherited from Diane when she returned to the US. This young woman fell off the roof of a building while trying to escape a beating she was receiving from her husband. It is unknown exacly what damage she sustained to her spine becase she did not receive any medical care after the accident. She spent one year in bed recovering and came to our clinic mostly paralysed below the waist. I remember the first time I treated Ganga because she would intently watch each needle insertion and try to connect to some sensation of it. Contrast that to the fact that 5 weeks later she was complelty needle sensitive and would walk an hour and a half each way to the clinic without pain. Not to say she was cured in any way as her walking was not a pretty sight to behold and she still lacked function in the anterior and lateral muscles of her lower legs.


The really amazing part for me was to see the revitalization of spirit in this young women. In the few short weeks I worked with her I saw hopelessness surrender to the bright light of hope behind her dark eyes and I will not soon forget the power of this transformation.


Mr. Noresh is a 42 year old police officer who suffered a sudden stroke nine years ago and is mostly paralysed on his right side and cannot speak clearly. I learned in school that recovery of motor function after such a long time is extremely unlikely but I agreed to try. After only 5 treatments I was shaking his hand. He could move each finger individualy and he could walk with a cane (he could not hold his cane before). When I began working with him he claimed that I could "cut off his leg" and he wouldn't be able to feel it. After treatment he had sharp/dull and soft touch sensitivity in all of his fingers and toes. The interpeters all reported that he was speaking much clearer than before. He's one happy guy. I'm one happy practitioner and I hope he will continue to improve.


One of my favorite patients was this young girl who contracted typhoid fever at age 16. The fever damaged her cerebelum (part of the brain responsible for coordinating movement and balance) and now she has difficulty walking and falls often. I can't say that my treatments had even the slightest effect on her condition but I can say that her attitude and bright smile had a profound effect on me. On days that I would be struggling in the clinic wondering why some people wern't responding or worring that I might have missed something that would cause someone harm, she would come in and tell me a joke or sing a song. Attitude is so important in influencing outcomes and I am so grateful to this patient for that constant reminder.

In fact, I will end this entry on this note. I'm eternally grateful for what each and every patient brought to me on this journey. They shared their stories, they shared themselves and they trusted me. I hope I helped... I know they all helped me. -Andrew

More Articles

  • Volunteer Acupuncture Care

    Volunteer Acupuncture Care

    “Finding our own definition of success means becoming aware of what we value. Often, this means rinsing years of conditioned thinking from our minds. ” - Anonymous I recently returned home to

    Read More
  • COVID-19 Update

    COVID-19 Update

    Dear friends and donors, I want to thank you all for your continued interest and generosity towards our ongoing work in rural Nepal. March 16th, in response to the global

    Read More
  • End of Life Care in Rural Nepal

    End of Life Care in Rural Nepal

    Basanti is a 32 year old woman from the small village of Bajrabarahi, about three to four hours from Kathmandu (depending on your mode of transport). Ten years ago she

    Read More
  • The Color of Love

    The Color of Love

    In my first week with Acupuncture Relief Project, a grandmother came to the clinic complaining of abdominal pain. She had eaten some bad buffalo meat and was now suffering from

    Read More
  • Integrated Medicine for Rural Primary Care 

    Integrated Medicine for Rural Primary Care 

    “Easy! Easy!” My motorbike’s rear tire spins out to the left as it loses traction on the rain soaked, stony... road? path?. It’s a cold wet Saturday morning and I’m

    Read More
  • Wound Care

    Wound Care

    Recently while working in the Bajrabarahi clinic I had the opportunity to help someone with an infected wound. A middle aged woman came into the clinic with a swollen, painful

    Read More
  • Rice Harvest in Nepal

    Rice Harvest in Nepal

    I don’t know about you, but I grew up eating rice for basically every meal. My job in the house was to make sure the rice was washed and cooked

    Read More
  • The Faces of My Patients

    The Faces of My Patients

    tamangwomen I looked down to check that I had everything. I wore my white lab coat, new name tag, and had pens in my pocket. My supplies were all laid

    Read More
  • Nepali Women

    Nepali Women

    Cricket highlights are buzzing in my left ear, as I peel apart crinkling, plastic sleeves of a wedding album. My patient’s fourteen-year-old son splits his attention between the static screen

    Read More
  • Naturopathy in Nepal

    Naturopathy in Nepal

    Four years ago I fell in love with the most impoverished district of Nepal called Humla. Though I was there to research malnutrition, I quickly realized the desperate need of

    Read More
  • Human Suffering

    Human Suffering

    Yesterday, I saw an 80 year old patient whose oxygen saturation read 75. In America, anyone under 90% gets an immediate oxygen cannula in their nose. When I first encountered

    Read More
  • Bimdev Says His Daughter’s Name

    Bimdev Says His Daughter’s Name

    Not long ago, I watched a man carefully walk into clinic, cane in hand, right arm and leg trapped in contracture from a stroke. He sat down silently and handed

    Read More
  • Tamang


    She sat there like a queen, or a dictator, regally poised in a red plastic chair, her gold-tasseled nose ring eclipsed by her broad nose. Faded tattoos traced the corners

    Read More
  • The Best Medicine of All

    The Best Medicine of All

    I’m totally overdressed, now sweating in my puffy jacket that only a few hours ago seemed totally adequate to stave off the morning frost. The Nepali middle hills tower and

    Read More
  • 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


    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
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

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.


Support our work

Donate Volunteer Get in Touch

Support Us