After 10 hours of tiring bus ride from the capital city to Dhap, I could finally afford to rest my head against the cozy seat of bolero. The dark gloomy clouds hovering above us, racing with the same pace of our vehicle kind of frightened me. Neither I was scared of rain nor was it a thunder but I could not dare to imagine the cool drops of water downpouring from above which could easily move the fragile road to Khamding. But before I could ponder upon this for long my thought shifted to the upcoming visit. This was my first ever experience outside the Kathmandu valley for volunteering.
I was there for Khamding medical trek 2018 guided by Wonchu peak promotion under the mentorship of the incredible professor Dr. Kelly Murphy and 8 students of Stanford University for teaching some health related issues to people out there in our 8 days trek. And this 8 days event not only confined itself to the memories of a volunteering program but encompassed the social, economic, political, psychological and cultural aspect of rural life which intrigued my mind.
I cannot dare defy that it was something totally new for me to witness that because it was something that I and we always hear enough in news and avoid it blaming government with few words and that is that. But this time it was not simply that, it was new in a sense that it was the first time I saw it with my real eyes, it was new because I could actually feel people suffer, it was new because I felt truly helpless, despite being a medical undergraduate I could not help a patient even through a simple illness. But who was to blame here?
Me? Our team? Because we could not check a guy’s swollen leg due to the absence of x ray machine in the health post and could do nothing more than administering him the painkiller and referring to the Phaplu hospital (the most nearest one which takes 5-6 hours by walking) or Mission hospital, Okhaldhunga which is difficult for everyone and mostly to poor, underprivileged and marginalized people. Or is it the village to be blamed which is with just one health post with 2 government health workers for 4 villages (Jhapre, Tapting, Chyanba and Khamding itself) with minor services. Or is it the locals there to be blamed who have always casted their votes in support of those leaders who are never sure to support their lives. Or should this blame be given to the government itself which has been ensuring health as the fundamental right of people and claiming this by visiting individual house once on a blue moon during the time of election and pretending to be naïve when they have reached the power to implement the same. Every time leaving situation the same as it was. Insane, some government leaders are fighting for opening more hospitals and medical colleges still inside Kathmandu valley.
The other thought of mine then said its bad but still not the worst. Because I had heard and read about different places like Olangchung Gola, Humla, Mugu, Rimikot and many more where people died and are still dying from diarrhea, pneumonia, typhoid and several other easily curable diseases either due to lack of health posts or doctors or proper medications. So it was a wrong perception of mine that held that only a few frequently listed places have been facing these situations but as a matter of fact this was the reflection of every original reality of every nook and corner of Nepal.
On asking a senior citizen with relatively higher blood pressure about her water drinking habit..she smiled and replied “Hami k pani khanxa…tirkha lagyu vane chyan khanxa nani”this was the reality of the place where people did not even have basic idea to what not to use during the sickness. Everywhere People suffer a lot and yes, they do but the people here for their recovery find Chyang (local alcohol) as their best remedy. I did not know how to react.
In the midst of all these two things brought a light of hope to me. First I was overwhelmed to know that big hospital with excellent facilities “Wongchu Sherpa Memorial Hospital” is going to be built soon and even some works have started in the memory of late social worker Wongchu Sherpa of Chyanga village who had always wished for good health facilities to villagers. May be, we need more people like Wongchu in every community who dared to see dreams for betterment of every villagers out there and all those helping hands like Stanford University and wilderness medical society who believed in his dreams.
And second was the growing light of hopes of the village, the young students there. In our health training, we taught general health matters like importance of good nutrition, sanitation, reproductive health, general physiology of body which most of them were completely unaware of, to very friendly and interactive Sherpa and Magar community members, especially school girls. Those little school girls, all of them reading in government school from their childhood were really keen to learn about those things especially on learning to use stethoscope and sphygmomanometer. I must say they were brilliant, deprived of many facilities but still satisfied on what they have.
Most of them want to be doctor, nurse or health workers as they grow up. I could read their expression of that desire to hold those scholarship seats in the medical field as it would be almost impossible for them to pay for this expensive course. I recalled that they are entitled to get scholarships seats which are allocated for government school students if they fail to get admitted in merit. But immediately another thought crossed my mind that destroyed their scholarship seats for being a government school graduate. This is because this type of scholarship has been enjoyed by the boarding schools’ toppers who with the intention of achieving the same resort to government school in their higher grades especially 8th, 9th and 10th standard.
I felt if only I could do something for them but something told me that this thought will go in vain.Then only, I realized the importance Dr. Govinda KC’s demands on improving health sectors in Nepal. The white haired man who exercises an influence in government’s functioning had been, is and will be fighting for these people, for me and for us, he has been fighting against the wrong for our betterment, he has been toiling round the clock for our lives, he has been raising his voice for these ignorant, helpless people including us but how far has he succeeded? Every time it is the same drama of the government which calms his claims by agreement but do not hesitate to break it apart after some days of pretention. So what now?
So many thoughts crossed my mind and so many instances struck my eyes and all I asked to myself “aren’t they worth it?”