Friday, April 19, 2013

Last couple weeks in Nepal

Malnutrition Screenings
We completed many treks out to the villages to screen for malnutrition.  I enjoyed these treks which allowed me to see the surrounding areas and where/how people live.  Everybody was very hospitable as we wandered through their homes.  The days were both physically and mentally exhausting.  I much prefer going down the mountains than up the mountains, but as we kept going farther down, you know that you must go up at the end of the trek! Our typical day would just include us going from one house to the next and measuring all children 6 months to 5 years old.  We got lots of crying kids that were afraid of us, but they are still so cute!!! If a child is moderately malnurished than they got some counseling on what kinds of foods to feed the child, if they were severely malnurished we give them the same counseling and strongly encourage them to come to the hospital for further care and treatment.  There are many reasons why malnutrition is a problem here, and after walking through these villages I have a much better understanding of the challenges and difficulties that families have in providing for their families!


taking arm circumferences

such cute little ones =)

This little girl was severely malnourished - now she is moderately malnourished and making small improvements

The Hospital
The hospital here has 45 beds.  There is a small Emergency Room, one Operating Room, a Maternity ward, a Post-op area, 2 general wards, a waiting area, outpatient exam rooms, pharmacy, lab, a nutrition room and a leprosy exam room.  One of the unique things to me is that on the general wards, beds are given to the next person in need - so men, women, and children all share the ward.
Most of the hospital staff are Nepali, and all of the nurses are female. 
There is no place for women who are in labor - so they have to labor in the streets until they are ready to deliver. 
There is also no food service, families have to provide the food.  A project is underway to complete the construction of a small cantine attached to the hospital where food can be easily obtained for patients and families.

Front entrance of the hospital

The hospital

Waiting room

One of the hospital wards

one of the delivery rooms

Out to eat in Dadeldhura
Besides the Manna Bakery, there are not a lot of options of places to eat out.  There are a few hotels that can have decent food - sometimes it makes people sick, othertimes it doesn't.  One night we ate at a little place run by a family from the church, and it was so good and a really fun time!

our restaurant

A typical Dal Bhat meal

Making roti

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Leaving Nepal
There was a group of us leaving Dadeldhura and the hospital at the same time.  It was nice to travel together, and I was thankful that the motion sickness was not as severe as the trip to the hospital.  Just before I left I had the priviledge to be at a home birth of one of the missionaries.  She delivered a beautiful baby boy, but he needed a little medical attention and we were watching him closely both at the hospital and at his house during the days after his birth.  He seemed to be doing better when I left, but then began to have problems again after I had left Dadeldhura, it was decided that he needed to be transferred to the capital city for additional testing.  Since I was in the capital city for a few days I was able to visit the parents and hear updates about how he was doing.  It was a blessing to see them again, although we all would have loved for it to be under different circumstances!  The little baby is now discharged from the hospital and doing well, I'm so thankful!!! 
I enjoyed my time in Nepal and was so thankful for the month I had there.  God allowed me to meet some amazing people and see breathtaking scenery!!!   

My roommates

Enjoying a pizza party the night before I left

My traveling buddies

We stopped at this little place along the way for some yummy rice pudding


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Daily life in the Valleys and Mountaintops

This has been an interesting week living in rural nepal.  Life here is simple, yet difficult. 
The main road in Dadeldhura
I live in a house with another american nurse, a nepali nurse, and another nepali hospital worker.  There are 2 rooms where we sleep and a bathroom and kitchen.  No space for a table or living room.  We do have an indoor toilet, running water, and electricity, although sometimes the electricity or water goes off randomly.  There is a gas stove for cooking, but no oven and a fridge that kinda works although our freezer is working good!  We get a liter of buffalo milk delivered to our house every morning which has to be boiled before we can use it - but then we've been saving the cream that rises to the top of the milk to make ice cream!!! It's fun to try and be creative with meals and cooking!!!

Manna Bakery
One huge blessing is the Manna Bakery.  This bakery is run by a Nepali couple from the church and they make yummy treats like bagels, bread, cookies, and cakes.  They also serve lunch and will even make pizzas if you order ahead! 

Lunch with Melanie and a great view!!!

Typically we'll eat lunch at the bakery which is either Dahl Bot, a traditional nepali meal of rice and lentels and curried veggies, or soup and bread - this meal along with some chiya (black tea with milk and sugar) and a cookie is less than $1.50 and so yummy!!!  

 A story that isn't really funny, but you have to laugh at while living here - one of the Nepali doctors was in the ER overnight.  He had gotten some food and left in on his desk while he was taking care of a patient - only to realize that a rat was stealing his food =( 

Another interesting thing about Nepal - they have a different calendar than we use.  So currently they are in the 12th month of 2069 - it will soon be the year 2070!  I thought it was hard to adjust when returning from Togo after 7 month, just imagine the transition of going back in time 57 years =)

Typical daily life for what some refer to as "hill people" is very difficult.  This past week we got to spend two days trekking out to visit some of the surrounding villages.  The two areas we visited had been found to have the highest percentages of malnurished children coming to be seen at the hospital and we wanted to survey the area to see if it would be feesable to do some projects and nutrition screenings in the villages.  As you approach a typical home you will first notice the water buffalo, cows, and goats tied up around the yard.  Then you will notice the two story home, typically made out of clay - as you get closer you realize that the lower portion is where the animals sleep and the upstairs is where the people sleep.  Daily life means caring for the animals, washing clothes, preparing food and cooking, working in the fields, caring for children, gathering firewood, pounding rice, and many other chores.  They work very, very hard!!!  We often saw women walking on the narrow winding mountain paths caring heavy loads of firewood, brick, rice, or things they have gathered in their fields; one women was carrying 50 kg (110 pounds) - they carry things by placing a strap around their forehead which then wraps around the load resting on their backs. 

such a heavy load!!!

group of school children

little guy playing with a wheelbarrow

As we walked from home to home the people were very friendly and welcoming and offered us a mat to sit on and something to drink or eat, we only took tea at a few houses because there wasn't time to accept every offer.  The first day we started out walking and then caught a jeep to a path the went off the main road, from there we went winding down the path from house to house until we got to the bottom of the valley.  There were of course amazing views of the surrounding mountains as we walked!!!  Then once we got to the bottom we started our ascent up winding our way through the houses on the other side of the mountain until we reached the top and the main road - we walked for about 5 hours that day.  From there we caught a van ride back to the hosptial. 

Our paths

The second day was much the same, until we started our ascent up from the bottom of the valley.  Instead of winding our way back up the mountain we took the rugged trail straight up this mountain for two hours straight.  We had run out of water, it was around 2pm and we had only a few snacks but no food, and i'm still adjusting to the altitude - it was a very difficult 2 hours!!!  Part of the time I could only look at my feet forcing them to take the next step up because looking up or around me was too discouraging since the mountain was never ending.  Othertimes we'd stop for a rest and I'd look around amazed at the scenery and the beauty surrounding me.  It's understandable why the people that live there have a hard time getting supplies or seeking medical care - they are very isolated and it is so difficult to get anywhere!  The good and bad is that we will be doing both of these treks again this week!   There is a group of high schoolers coming and we are going to take them out with us to do the actual malnutrition screenings in each of these homes.  Please pray for a productive time and interactions as we go, as well as stamina and strength for the treks - we'll be going on Friday April 5th and Sunday April 7th - thankfully not two consecutive days!!!  For those of you in the states we are 11 hours ahead - so praying for us the nights before would be about our mornings as we will be getting started!!!

The beautiful valley

View from the mountaintop

Easter was celebrated for 3 days straight by the Nepali church here. There was a Good Friday Service, Saturday service (their normal day for church), and then a Easter Sunday Sunrise service.  Easter morning we were awakened at 5am by a group of Nepali women coming to start making breakfast at our house so that after the service there would be egg sandwiches and tea for everybody.  The service was held outside the house I’m staying in because it sits up on a hill overlooking the mountains.  At 6am a group of around 50 gathered to celebrate Easter and Christ’s resurrection.  The songs were all in Nepali, but I recognized a few tunes – This is the Day and He Lives.  It was special to be able to celebrate the hope of Christ's resurrection with these believers while overlooking the beautiful mountain backdrop at sunrise!!!  Later that day we went to the taylor so that I could have a nepali outfit made and then we stopped to buy chicken for our Easter dinner.  We gathered that evening for a cookout and enjoyed the time with other foreigners and Nepali friends!      

Easter sunrise service

Easter cookout