This article was written by Caroline Crowther who graduated with a BSc (Hons) degree in Acupuncture from the International College of Oriental Medicine in March 2019 and works at Henfield Holistics.
In 2015, Nepal suffered the massive Gorka earthquake (magnitude 7.8), a number of aftershocks and many landslides leading to the devastating loss of lives and homes. Nearly 9,000 people were killed, 22,000 were injured and 3.5 million people were left homeless.
Nepal Pain Relief (NPR) works alongside Nepali rural redevelopment charity TUKI and now has a permanent clinic base in Charikot, Dolakha district – 7 hrs drive from Kathmandu, but relies on acupuncture volunteers.
Anna-Marie Wakeling from Worthing and I were recruited to volunteer for NPR at short notice. The opportunity to visit beautiful Nepal and help so many people in such a direct manner was too great to miss, so despite lack of funds on my part, I threw caution to the wind and signed up. I started crowdfunding using gofundme.com to try to raise further money to cover the cost of the flight and other expenses. I raised a total of £1,070, much of which was donated by BN5 residents.
I arrived in Nepal in late October 2019 and stayed for three weeks. Included in our luggage was over 17,000 needles and bags and bags of moxa, some of which was kindly donated by Phoenix Medical. Other supplies we sourced in the tiny, dusty, poorly stocked medical supply shops in Kathmandu.
The response from the local community was massive. People came from miles away, often on foot, walking for hours. Some mornings saw the arrival of around 60 people, many had to be turned away, as there was only so much that 2 people could do in one day. Clinic hours ran from 9am until 6pm, queuing for tickets started at 5am.
Our two young translators were invaluable. Most of the patients we saw were destitute farmers; nearly all patients were suffering from chronic pain, often in multiple places. It was challenging but incredibly rewarding work. After 3 days as our speed in diagnosis and treatment increased, we each began to treat over 20 patients a day. During my time there we gave a total of 427 treatments in 11 days. We had only 3 couches, therefore, I regularly treated patients on a mattress on the floor, or seated, often working on 4 patients at a time. Other conditions we treated regularly included gout, digestive disorders and paraesthesia. We came across conditions that we never expected to encounter plus huge emotional and psychological trauma.
The support that acupuncture gives goes further than just the treatment. People gain huge benefit as they feel that someone is here to listen and help. Reportedly, the project is making a tangible difference to the quality of peoples’ lives. Every single person was grateful for our presence and made us feel incredibly welcome.
Case 1: One lady had been buried in a landslide, once she was dug out, the hospital van crashed giving her a head injury. She had full body pain and breathing difficulties but reported a dramatic reduction in symptoms after one treatment!
Case 2: I was asked to see a three-year-old girl with paralysis. As soon as I met her it was obvious that she was a Downs Syndrome child. She had never been to a hospital and her parents were ignorant of the condition. She was developing curvature of her spine due to her delayed development, meaning she was not yet walking. I did not treat her with needles but gave massage on the meridian lines. I advised her parents to get her a baby walker on wheels to help her begin the road towards walking. I also advised them to take her to the local community hospital to see if she could get some physical therapy.
This article was written by Caroline Crowther and published by Phoenix Medical.
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