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“Climb mountain to serve those in need”: Sharing by Vania, volunteer nurse, after Nepal mission

Vania Chan, volunteer nurse

 

When reflecting on the two times I have served at Nepal, what immediately comes to mind are always - rich vs poor, leadership, teamwork, physical endurance, giving and taking…

 

In remote villages where resources are scarce, villagers tend to have lower education levels. With little to no health literacy, problems like diarrhea and skin infection are rather common. I remember seeing a little girl, black faced, with blisters on her lips; I remember seeing children, whose faces and scalps are full of pus-filled abscess, wailing non-stop. As a mother, it hurts me to see children in such conditions – all these are preventable if proper personal hygiene measures are taken! Seeing such cases reminds me of how important health education is, especially in resource-lacking villages. Besides low health literacy, there is also a lack of health facilities and services. Since the journey to see a doctor takes several hours, villagers tend not to seek care. Thus at our health clinic in the village, we see patients presenting themselves with clavicle fractures from months or years ago, leading to continuous pain. An old man in his seventies walked in with a noticeable bump on the arm; his untreated arm fracture was from a few years back. I believe those who have bore the pains of fracture will know how gruelling it can be; can you imagine – how much pain and hindrance to daily lives have the untreated fractures brought the two senior villagers?

 

Physical endurance is imperative when it comes to working in remote areas. In the two times I have served in Nepal, I had to trek in the bitter cold, the scorching heat, and the pouring rain. I have always enjoyed hiking in the past; but when weather conditions are poor or when the route is tough, I was previously reluctant to go hiking. With my experience in Nepal, I now know that these are just trivial issues. I am very excited to now be able to embark on journeys to see more breathtaking trails, broadening my horizons.

 

I first started doing voluntary work with my friends back in secondary school. I was learning so much outside the classroom, and so never stopped giving back to society. Gradually, voluntary work became part of my life. There is not only love, but also leadership, when a team is formed to help those in need. There is also team spirit, as everyone is working wholeheartedly towards the same goal.

 

To be honest, it is not as grand as it sounds; what I am doing is just a drop in the bucket. Every time I serve, I feel that I am taking away more than I am giving. I saw an advertisement advertising cameras today. The caption goes, “Climb mountains to take a good photo”. I hope that more people in society can also “Climb mountains to serve those in need”. I am very grateful to have had this opportunity to work as part of the Health in Action and Medical Outreachers team; it was indeed a lovely learning experience.

 

We spent one and half days to reach 3800m. Although there were a few who had flu and diarrhea, none had altitude sickness, so we proceeded with our services immediately. If not for this service opportunity, I doubt I will ever visit these Nepalese mountains.

 

Every night before or after dinner, the team comes together to evaluate the day’s work and share our experiences. Some of the stories shared are quite though-provoking.

 

Household surveys are essential in evaluating the effectiveness of our intervention, but it is not an easy task, usually involving long strenuous journeys. The more remote a family lives, the worse-off their living conditions, and the more we need to understand their needs. During the week, we visited a pitch-black room. The family cooked and slept in the same room; when they built a fire, the smoke burned our eyes and we could not stay for long. To them however, live goes on as per normal.

 

In the photo is an 87-year-old elderly who walked 5 hours to our Health Camp.

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