Erin's Global Health Update: Part 6
Last I wrote you I was gearing up for my first medical trip to Nepal. Each time I look back on the experience I'm blown away - there were many firsts for everyone involved and we all stepped up to the plate with courage and grace. I'm so proud of all of us. Here's a rundown of what happened:
My favorite part: Before the volunteers arrived I spent 11 days in Karmidanda learning about our local medicine. With a couple terms of botanical medicine under my belt, I was able to use some trusted sources and local plant knowledge to identify, sustainably harvest, and make medicine from about 20 plants from the area. I was so happy spending time with the plants and the people in this way, and wow, lucky me. Then one by one, the volunteers arrived and we were in full swing. In the last update I set some goals. Crushed them all, and have elaborated below for you:
1. Learn a lot. And collect as much data as possible to help guide the development of this project. Check. Most importantly I learned many outright and subtle ways I can work and communicate more effectively with the people and the "system" of Nepal. I'm not a tourist anymore, but I still come from a different world - an endlessly fascinating challenge for me. We got a ton of nutrition data – detailed diet analysis and blood sugar status of 75 homes. Plus the demographics, vitals, diagnosis, and treatment of the 236 patients we treated while there. Check out this video for a glimpse of the action.
2. Remind them that effective medicine doesn't have to come in a pill. They used natural medicine for all time until the recent influx of foreign aid. Check. I don't think they really needed to be reminded. They remember :)
3. Plant some literal and figurative seeds for the future. Check. While there, we built a 'demonstration greenhouse' with a variety of nutritious vegetables that are not in Karmidanda's habit to grow. Since our departure, the Share Nepal team has collected and replanted the most medically valuable herbs that can grow in the village for our future use. They have also begun a “food forest” on nearby landslide-prone land, planted winter veggies and experimented with ways to improve the quality and quantity of their harvests. Thanks for most of this work goes to my compadre in this project, Ash Aylsworth, who carried on work in the village for several months after myself and the volunteers left.
4. Strengthen existing partnerships and build new connections. Check. We continued to nurture our relationships with local organizations and established connections with the Ethnobotanical Society of Nepal, Tribhuvan University and a handful of priceless individuals specializing in herbal permaculture, Nepali economics and the local and international herbal market.
5. Engage a larger group of people in this work. Check. I focused on the local NGO Share Nepal. We had to figure out how all of our worlds and dreams and ideas could come together to actually make something happen. Start walkin the talk. We found common ground to stand on and are all committed to raising the quality of life in Karmidanda in a sustainable way. We have a plan. It's so flexible. Bottom line- We are a team. They even offered me a position on their board!
6. So much more. Check! This part's thanks to you guys. I was getting donations from you while on the ground -your hard earned dollars came right out of the ATM as rupees, and directly to the priority project of the time. Click here for a summary of the work we were able to accomplish.
Now I'm on spring break from my 4th of 5 years, getting closer! School continues to pick up the pace and next summer is a mandatory summer of clinic rotations for me, so unfortunately that means no trips to Nepal until December 2013. A well timed business course has prompted me to consider how I'm going to support myself while I'm living in Nepal in the coming years, and that's my focus for now.
Thanks again from the bottom of my heart, and I'm always open to your ideas and advice.