November 1, 2013
I just got back from almost 3 weeks in Nepal, part of which I spent with Mountain Fund volunteering my medical expertise. I am an ER doctor and, thanks to the organizers of Mountain Fund, I was able to bring basic medical care to 2 villages outside Kathmandu where there are no healthcare providers. First, Mountain Fund facilitated my meeting with a local doctor at a hospital in Kathmandu so that I could learn about the disease processes that are most commonly found in that region and determine what medications would be most useful to bring with me into the villages. I was given a tour of the small city hospital and it was interesting for me to watch the local doctor at work. In the villages, I was challenged by the lack of laboratory and radiology and I really got to use my clinical skills. My translator was a young Nepali woman currently in nursing school and it was fun to teach her a few clinical pearls while she taught me a wealth of cultural information about the patients. My greatest impact was probably just treating the majority of patients for worms; however, there were two children under 5 who likely had pneumonia and I was able to give them the antibiotics they needed. The experience I had in the villages was humbling and rewarding and gave me a renewed energy and love for my profession! I am thankful to Scott and Sunita, the organizers of Mountain Fund, for providing me with that opportunity and taking care of all of the logistics. They also took me out to the village of Mankhu to see Her Farm, a self-sustainable and safe place where women can live and work and have their children cared for and schooled. Eventually, there will also be a health clinic (run by the above-mentioned nursing student once she completes her degree!). I cannot say enough about the wonders of Her Farm! I spent 3 days there and wished it could've been more. Besides the obvious value of this project (i.e., allowing women in a country with limited women's rights to regain their dignity and independence and remain with their children) there is the gorgeous scenery, the fresh air, the stars like I have never seen, the just-picked guavas, the animals, the children, and the camaraderie of the volunteers and Mountain Fund staff. It was a mini-vacation all in itself. Had I not asked Scott to organize a trek for me and my niece (which he did, taking care of all the details before we left the US and accompanying us to the trekking company in Thamel to confirm arrangements), I would have stayed at Her Farm longer and helped out with the farm work and/or building projects (like my niece did after our trek). All in all, I have only glowing things to say about Mountain Fund, Scott, Sunita and all the young women in their support staff. I was made to feel welcome immediately and in a very short time felt almost like part of their family. The food that was prepared was delicious (especially the Nepalese dishes!) and the room/facilites were always clean. I am excited to follow this organization to see their progress and what new projects they come up with next. Some day I hope to return to Nepal and volunteer my time at Her Farm's health clinic!
Would you volunteer for this group again?
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