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.
35-year-old female presents with multiple bilateral joint pain beginning 18 months previously and had received a diagnosis of…
20-year-old male patient presents with decreased mental capacity, which his mother states has been present since birth. He…
60-year-old female presents with spinal trauma sequela consisting of constant mid- to high grade pain and restricted flexion…
80-year-old male presents with vomiting 20 minutes after each meal for 2 years. At the time of initial…
In the aftermath of the 2015 Gorkha Earthquake, this episode explores the challenges of providing basic medical access for people living in rural areas.
Acupuncture Relief Project tackles complicated medical cases through accurate assessment and the cooperation of both governmental and non-governmental agencies.
Cooperation with the local government yields a unique opportunities to establish a new integrated medicine outpost in Bajra Barahi, Makawanpur, Nepal.
Complicated medical cases require extraordinary effort. This episode follows 4-year-old Sushmita in her battle with tuberculosis.
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.
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.
This episode looks at the people and the process of creating a new generation of Nepali rural health providers.
In this 2011, documentary, Film-maker Tristan Stoch successfully illustrates many of the complexities of providing primary medical care in a third world environment.
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. Nonetheless when you change places it gets easier and easier to feel at home.
So for two months Bajrabarahi was home. It may sound odd, but perhaps it was easy for me to feel at home there because it reminded me so much of my old home. Walking through the hills around Bajrabarahi was a constant déjà vu.
In many ways Bajrabarahi was like my old home. Where I lived in the Apennine mountains in Central Italy, the houses are made of stone. Since the area is subject to earthquakes, the houses are often cracked, often abandoned. A wood stove and a fire cooks the food and keeps you warm. Water comes from the spring.
Just one generation before my time, the hills were terraced and ploughed by oxen, wheat was threshed the way rice is threshed in Bajra. Life is hard. The farmers say: “la terra è bassa!” The ground is low! You have to bend down to do whatever needs to be done.
If anything creates roots it is working the land. The land is measured in palm widths, my uncle would say. When you’ve been out there with the hoe, you know where it’s softer, where it’s deeper, where there are more stones. Working the land with your hands in the earth is, I believe, our greatest connection to the grand flow of humanity. It connects us to all our ancestors, from our mothers thousands of years ago collecting and sowing wild seeds to every farmer all over this earth who sows, harvests and feeds the world.
I’m relieved not to be a farmer any more. I don’t have to run down and milk the cow, split and stack wood. It’s not just all the hard work - I don’t have to worry when it will stop raining so I can plant the fields, or worry that the weather will change before I can harvest my crops. But there is nothing like that connection to the soil, to a place.
I have so much respect for the farmers in Bajrabarahi because not only do they work hard, they work beautifully. They arrange the cut stalks of rice and corn with attention and care. They plant hedges along the sides of the terraces, flowers in their gardens. Each terraced field with perfect rows demonstrates that these are people who do all their hard work with dignity and love.
Attention to the noble work of farming is important to us as acupuncturists and East Asian medicine practitioners. The roots of our medicine come from an agricultural society and much of the theory of East Asian medicine is not complicated or philosophical, it is simply farmer’s logic. For example, water puts out a fire, fire melts the metal to make an ax to cut wood, plant the same crop too long in the same field and the earth is exhausted, the earth is piled up or dug to make canals to control the water.
When you dig a ditch for water you know you’ll have to keep it cleared of debris for the water to flow smoothly. Our needles or hands are the shovels and hoes that clear the channels so everything can flow and pain can be relieved.
Attention to the weather, to wind, damp, heat, and cold are just as important to us as they are to a farmer. We must be watchful for changes and act with good timing.
It is both respectable and useful to be a good farmer or a good doctor. The farmers of Bajrabarahi make good patients, their sense of humor (or their shyness) and their dignity accompany their sore knees and backs. With them I’ve reflected on how the course of your life can change in a moment with an accident, a fever, or a stroke. I’ve been amazed at their resilience and determination in dealing with their maladies and hardships.
My patients were always pleased to know that I once had a cow and grew channa and dhal! I never worked as hard as they do, but I’m glad my life experience has given me an inkling of what their lives are like. --- Lynn Minervini
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 have taken several hours to get to the clinic then may have to wait for some time to be seen, but time has a different value here and we get few complaints.
This different concept of time can manifest in many ways. A patient will often postpone their follow up appointments in order to celebrate a new moon or a festival. Between all the different ethnic groups that make up Nepal, there are more holidays celebrated here than there are days of the year, but neither intolerable pain nor life-threatening conditions are allowed to interfere with these occasions, or the intense periods of preparation and ritual often involved.