Like most developing countries, agriculture is the primary way of life. The government offers minimal support services or benefits. An estimated 50% of the population is living on less than $1.25 a day, and as a result the day to day life for the Nepali people can be harsh. Therefore, specialist medical care is difficult to access and a luxury that few would be able to afford. The inability for most patients to afford corrective surgery, means many individuals must endure a life tragically inhibited by their disabilities. The negative stigma associated with disfigurement can be equally devastating.
Carol Vernal, CEO is returning to Nepal to attend the March 22, 2014 opening cerimony for the Kirtipur Cleft & Burn Center. This Clinic makes it possible for those who would otherwise be unable, to access the opportunity to receive the surgery they require. Our CMAF sponsored patients will be among those receiving cared in this brand new facitly.
Dr.Shankar Rai,Nepal Director of CMAF and 5 members of his surgical outreach team visited California to attend a medical conferance. This was a dream for most of them and we took advantage of their visit by loading them up with donated medical supplies destined for Nepal. Carol accompaned Dr. Shankar Rai to a reception of the Yuba City Medical Society where he was a guest of honor and then onto Salt Lake City for a fund raising event. A good time was had by all.
Pictured below is a 17 year old girl with polydactyly. She lives outside of Kathmandu with 8 family members in a small mud & brick house. She has lived through her school years experiencing difficulty with writing and working. Now she will become an adult with pride and dignity. It has never ceased to amaze me of how a simple surgery can so dramatically change a child's life.
CORRECTIVE SURGERY PROGRAM: Over the past 10 months 125 children received corrective surgery with 30% done in Kathmandu and 30% done in 10 rural outreach camps including Butwal, Nepalganj, Pokhara, Suket, and Biratnagar.
Kirtipur Cleft & Burn Center is a satellite facility of Kathmandu Model Hospital. Although it is still under construction, the operating room suite, recovery room, and 20 bed ward is functioning to accomodate patients. The CMAF sponsored patients are among those now being cared for in this new Kirtipur facility. The Plastic Surgery Department will move from Kathmandu Model Hospital into the Kirtipur Cleft & Burn Center facility in July 2014 and at that time all surgical procedures will be done in Kirtipur.
CMAF has participated in the design and development of the Kirtipure Cleft & Burn Center's cafeteria. This is a sustainable enterprise to support corrective surgery patients. In April 2013 the kitchen staff was trained in food safety and sanitation by Nepal Vocational Hospitality Services(NVHS). Weekly visits by NVHS will ensure that high standards are maintained and nutritional food is available for patients, visitors, and staff. In November CMAF organized and supervised the preparation of 2 meals and 3 snacks a day for 40 people attending a 3 day conference in Kirtipur. This eliminated the need for catering and earned dollars for the cafeteria. Within 12 months with the hospital and clinic in full operation we expect to be serving 300 - 400 meals a day and realizing a profit of $1,000/month which translates to changng the lives of 5 children every month.
Shrawan Pandit is a sweet 2 year old girl with Symbrachydactly of right hand. Any women with a visual disfigurement or handicap has a very difficult time in finding a husband. An unmarried women is not respected and has limited opportunities for employment. Shrawan will no longer be different from other little girls and now it is possible for her to marry a suitable husband.
I am back in Nepal, working with our Nepali partners to help expand Kirtipur Hospital's capacity to help children and families in need. We're focusing right now on the development of a cafeteria as a social enterprise that can raise funds for the hospital, including the Plastic Surgery and Burn Department that serves our target population. Such endeavors in Nepal require determination, resourcefulness, creativity, and adaptability. Three kitchen workers have been given a room in the Kirtipur Guest House to compensate for their low wages. Ramesh, the father of one of the cleft palate patients, wanted to show his gratitude by volunteering. Our Nepal Director of the Corrective Surgery Program, Dr. Rai, decided that, since Ramesh came from from Western Nepal (17 hours away by bus), he would need a place to stay as well. Ramesh was given a room and $10/month, along with placement as the cafeteria cashier, for which he is very grateful. His daughter and wife were able to return to family in Western Nepal, while he stayed to take care of his son.
When a patient is admitted to a hospital, there must be a relative or close friend to provide personal care for the patient. In a recent case at Kirtipur Hospital, the wife was the only person who could accompany her husband, and she had to bring all three of her children in tow: a 7-month-old, a 2-year-old, and a 7-year-old. The entire family has been by the patient's bedside for over three months, taking its toll on the patience of parents and the attention spans of children. During my last trip (I left in June), I helped establish a play area for children, arranged with wall charts and toys geared toward education and fun. Out of necessity, that area was taken over by hospital beds. Now I have claimed a room where the children can play and young volunteers can interact with visiting toddlers and long-term burn patients.
There is so much more to be done, but always, the children are our inspiration to keep pushing for improved access to quality care. We have a fantastic team of volunteers and excellent logistical support from our Nepali partners. We are grateful to our donors who are helping us transform the lives of Nepali children struggling with congenital defects or disfiguring burn injuries.
We have been in Nepal since mid-May to meet with Dr. Rai, the Nepal Director of the Corrective Surgery Program, and to lead a fund-raising yoga tour in some of the most spectacular and historic sites in Nepal. We visited Dr. Rai at the recently opened surgery ward in the Plastic Surgery and Burn Center in Kirtipur, near Kathmandu, now open for patient care under CMAF's Corrective Surgery Program. Though the building itself is unfinished, it is wonderful to have the surgery ward open and functioning. It is clean and bright, with improved standards of care and universal precautions in place.
CMAF is pleased to have helped in the business planning and development of the Dietary Department in the new Plastic Surgery and Burn Center in Kirtipur. The Center opened a 20-bed surgery ward and an Operating Suite in April 2013 as scheduled. CMAF provided training for kitchen staff and donated kitchen utensils to help launch a public cafeteria as a social enterprise at the new Center, which will provide fresh-cooked food for staff, patients, visitors, and families. All proceeds from the cafeteria operation will be used for corrective surgeries and follow-up care for burn patients. We will continue to raise funds for the new Center, as it will facilitate corrective surgeries and burn treatments (including corrective surgeries for burn injuries), and training of medical staff who can work at the Center as well as outreach clinics in rural areas.The new surgery ward was used recently in collaboration with volunteer doctors from Operation Smile to provide 65 children with cleft lip and/or palate surgeries - all in just 10 days! At this time some of the children sponsored by CMAF are being treated in the new Center and in the near future all Plastic Surgery patients will be cared for at the new Center.
Among the children operated on in the new ward was Sumata, an 8-year-old Nepali girl from Kathmandu. Sumata had three conjoined fingers in one hand, and was very ashamed of her disfigurement. After her corrective surgery, which successfully separated the three fingers, she is very happy because she will now have a normal-looking hand with all fingers working. With some hand therapy and exercise it will be possible for her to pick up and hold a pen without difficulty. She is no longer a deformed child suffering from stigma and shame. She can attend school without embarrassment and play with her friends. Her chance of finding a suitable husband has greatly increased and her future looks brighter. It is still hard to believe that this relatively simple surgery can make such a huge difference in a little girl's life.Keep in touch with us on Facebook or visit our website at www.childrensmedaid.org.
When I was in Nepal visiting wiith Dr. Shankar Rai recently, it broke my heart to see a five-year-old girl come in to his clinic, suffering from the physical pain and emotional trauma of a burn injury to her hand. I learned that unfortunately, burn injuries are all too common for chiildren in Nepal, especially in the rural areas. Families still use open fire pits and sometimes have kerosene used and stored near highly flammable materials. A burn injury not treated properly can become a painful disfigurement. As the damaged skin heals, it can result in what is called a burn contracture, a severe tightening of the skin that often does not respond to physical therapy alone. As we reach out to help children with congenital defects, we have realized we can also help children with disfiguring burn injuries. Dr. Rai is a reknowned surgeon with the specialized skills and experience needed to take on these complex, delicate surgeries. And we have the capacity, with the help of our donors, to transform the lives of these children.We’ve come a long way.
Nine years ago, Children’s Medical Aid Foundation (CMAF) was founded with the purpose of freeing Nepalese children born with disfigurement and deformities from prejudice and ridicule. CMAF raises funds in the U.S. to support Dr. Shankar Rai’s Corrective Surgery Program based out of Kathmandu Model Hospital, enabling the Program to provide free surgical correction for at least 100 children every year. Without the surgery and follow-up support, these children would not have the opportunity to live up to their potential and would most likely go through life unfulfilled and impoverished due to social prejudices and ostracism.
This past year (2012), CMAF helped sponsor 130 surgeries. Since our founding, we have changed the lives of 930 children, and expect to pass a key accomplishment milestone of more than 1,000 children in 2013. We have achieved this as an all-volunteer organization, raising funds through individual donations, events, and coordinating in-kind services and donations in the U.S. and Nepal. Being part of Global Giving has been one of the best things we have done for our organization, as it increases awareness about the need in Nepal, and brings new friends and supporters into our circle of aid.
Where are we going?
In addition to treating children with congenital defects, Dr. Rai has been increasingly treating children with disfigured hands and limbs due to burn contractures. He is working to develop a new Burn Center in Kirtipur (outside of Kathmandu), which is scheduled to open this spring. The new Burn Center will focus on educating medical personnel to improve the availability and quality of burn treatment, including burn contractures. Additional trained medical personnel will be able to provide outreach to the rural areas of Nepal where the need is greatest. Going forward, CMAF will continue to raise funds for the Corrective Surgery Program, which will now include surgeries and follow-up care for burn victims, as well as children born with congenital defects.
Sanjeeb Shrestha, a citizen of Nepal and member of the CMAF Advisory Board, is assisting with the design and equipping of a public Cafeteria at the new Burn Center that will provide fresh-cooked food for staff, patients, visitors, and families. The Cafeteria will be operated as a social enterprise, hiring local cooks and using locally produced food. As a nonprofit, the Cafeteria service will be handled primarily by volunteers. All proceeds will be used for corrective surgeries and follow-up care for burn patients.
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