Himalayan Healthcare

The mission of Himalayan HealthCare (HHC) is to create sustainable development programs in the remote areas of Nepal that will improve the quality of life for its people. Himalayan HealthCare achieves its mission by providing primary healthcare, community education, and income generation programs that enable people to be self-supporting in the long-term.
Aug 19, 2016

Stories of Hope: Chitra from Ilam walks on his own

HHC health staff, Phe Tamang, works with Chitra
HHC health staff, Phe Tamang, works with Chitra

Sixteen years ago, Chitra was brought to Himalayan HealthCare's Mabu Village Medical Camp in Nepal's far-eastern Ilam District, carried in a makeshift stretcher led by his grandmother. He was 13 years old, cadaverous and in agony with every movement. His joints, especially his knees, were inflamed and had ballooned, making walking impossible. He was immediately assessed by the Himalayan HealthCare team, given a provisional diagnosis of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and put on medications including steroids. 

This was before Himalayan HealthCare founded its community hospital in Ilam and the District had only one doctor to serve its entire population of 250,000. The Himalayan HealthCare medical camp was the first chance Chitra had to seek medical care for his condition. Although the medical team believed Chitra probably would not live, given the state he was in, Chitra's condition improved significantly in just a few days after arriving at the Himalayan HealthCare medical camp. 

Chitra stayed with the Himalayan HealthCare medical team for the duration of the medical trek in Ilam. He was carried in the stretcher through the Ilam hills and brought to Kathmandu for a better assessment, where a diagnosis of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis was confirmed. Thus began a long and arduous treatment.

Once Chitra was stable and released from the hospital, Himalayan HealthCare was in a quandary. Chitra's mother had passed away and his only remaining family--a frail grandmother and uncle with little means who had looked after him faithfully for years--were in no position to care for someone with his physical needs. Sending Chitra back to Ilam would be sending him back to die. 

Himalayan HealthCare made the decision to help look after Chitra long-term. Our founder, Anil, located an orphanage, St. Xavier's Social Service Center, close to the Himalayan HealthCare office in Kathmandu where Chitra could stay and where his progress could be regularly monitored. Chitra continued to live here for the next fifteen years. 

During Chitra's first year in Kathmandu, the late Som Raj, Himalayan HealthCare health staff, worked as Chitra's physical therapist and through these long, intense sessions Chitra progressed from being bedridden to being able to sit in a wheelchair. The orphanage, with Himalayan HealthCare's support, then sent Chitra to school. 

After a year of attending classes, it became evident that Chitra's condition, which, with his growing body, made for increased joint and postural deformities and discomfort, made it difficult for Chitra to regularly attend classes. The powerful immunosuppressant medications also made him prone to other deadly diseases, not to mention side effects. 

As the years progressed, however, both the medications and the medical services in Kathmandu improved. A rheumatologist began helping Himalayan HealthCare with Chitra's care and although he would often be quite ill for extended periods at a time, he managed high spirits and did his best, through vocational training, to become more independent.

Finding a vocational center that could help individuals with debilitating deformaties who needed a regular chaperone and were often ill was not an easy task. Under our own vocational training programs, Himalayan HealthCare tried Chitra at tailoring, which he enjoyed, but his hands and feet were too deformed to operate a sewing machine and he unfortunately had to give this up after a few months. Finally, he began working with Himalayan HealthCare's artisanal crafts line, JeevanKala. 

Chitra worked diligently, traveling 15 minutes every working day to the Himalayan HealthCare office to do his utmost, weaving recycled snack wrappers into colorful bowls and baskets. He received a small salary and stipend for his work. 

After much research and a visit to a hospital in New Delhi, Himalayan HealthCare's founder, Anil, had the chance to meet with severely physically challenged patients who were helped to walk after decades of incapacity by a local surgeon. This gave Himalayan HealthCare greater hope for Chitra's condition. In 2013, Chitra traveled with his aide to New Delhi and underwent two twelve-hour surgeries. The first replaced his left knee and hip; the next his right knee and hip. The surgeries, totaling $10,000, were funded by a generous donation from the Jean-Abraham Py Memorial Foundation. 

Due to his disease and years of disuse, Chitra's bones were brittle and his muscles atrophied, but he was able--for short periods--to stand on his legs and, with continued physical therapy, to move more freely with a walker. Chitra then underwent a third surgery, spinal osteotomy, to straighten his spine so that he could look straight ahead while walking. 

After his long struggle with this severely crippling arthritic disease and with Himalayan HealthCare's long-term support, Chitra went from a bed to a wheelchair to now being able to walk on his own using crutches. He restarted school after his multiple surgeries and recovery last year. 

This past April, Chitra sat for the national level 10th Grade School Leaving Certificate exams, which he passed with flying colors. He began 11th grade at Patan High School and will be restarting his training in tailoring with Himalayan HealthCare's support. He will continue to live at St. Xavier's at least until he finishes 12th grade. 

Stories like Chitra's are only possible with the dedication of Himalayan HealthCare's staff and international medical volunteers, as well as the generous support provided by donors like you. We thank you for your generosity of spirit and for enabling Himalayan HealthCare to continue supporting so many other stories of hope. 

Sincerely, 
Rob

Dr. Robert McKersie
President, Himalayan HealthCare

Chitra working on JeevanKala crafts
Chitra working on JeevanKala crafts
Chitra recovering from multiple surgeries
Chitra recovering from multiple surgeries
Chitra gradually stands with the help of a walker
Chitra gradually stands with the help of a walker
Chitra can now walk on his own with crutches
Chitra can now walk on his own with crutches

Links:

Jun 20, 2016

Reconstructing Health Posts in Rural Nepal

HHC staff and volunteers treat a mother-to-be
HHC staff and volunteers treat a mother-to-be

Himalayan HealthCare (HHC) has been providing primary healthcare, essential medicines, training of health workers and other health and education services to Nepal's remote villages for nearly 25 years. 

Statistics can tell you the impact HHC has had in northern Dhading District: in 1993, prior to our work in the area, the Under-Five Child Mortality Rate was 225 per 1,000 live births. By 2012, it had been reduced to 33 per 1,000 in Tipling, 39 per 1,000 in Shertung and 32 per 1,000 in Lapa--well below Nepal's national average.

With over two decades of work in these remote communities--some of which are a three-day walk from the nearest road--we have more to go on than statistics. When we spoke to one of our current scholarship students, Melina Tamang of Shertung, she told us:

There are a lot of other organizations like HHC, but they are not able to reach remote villages like this one. HHC started working in Tipling by opening a health post and providing services. They opened more in Shertung, Lapa and other places. I go to those health posts for treatment. In different villages, they started to provide efficient cooking stoves and latrines... If there were more organizations like HHC, Nepal will develop forward.

When asked about her motivation for higher studies in the medical field, Kumari BK, another scholarship student, replied:

When I went to HHC's village health posts when I was younger and saw people helping me, I dreamed of becoming like them... I am now studying to be a lab assistant, an opportunity provided by an HHC scholarship. I am sure I will complete my studies and serve the poor, and go and work in places where HHC asks me to.

Stories like these reinforce the devastating impact of last year's earthquake, which destroyed or damaged health posts throughout northern Dhading, along with the region's schools, homes and other structures. We are grateful to be collaborating with AmeriCares to repair and reconstruct 8 village health posts and upgrade the Dhading District Hospital.

With no road access and at altitudes of nearly 14,000 feet, this is no small feat. Our staff has been hard at work across Dhading District, clearing debris, gathering and transporting materials, preparing the site grounds and laying the foundations for permanent health posts. 

Stone boulders from the hills of the Himalayas must be broken down for use in the foundation and walls of the health posts, and all building materials, including the stones, metal posts, trusses for roofing and other materials, must be carried to the construction site on foot. Volunteers from the local communities will be assisting with transportation of construction materials, while mules are bring used to carry in sand.

Soil must be prepped for the foundation, concrete must be mixed and slabs fitted into the ground where metal posts will then be installed. Next will come the addition of the siding and trusses for the roof. We hope most of the work can be completed before the heavy rains of monsoon season begin. 

In Bhumisthan, HHC has completed seismic strengthening and repair work on a health post and the completed building was handed over to the Health Post Committee earlier this month. Representatives of HHC, AmeriCares and the Dhading District Health Office attended the handover process.  

We are grateful to AmeriCares for supporting Himalayan HealthCare's ongoing repair and reconstruction work on Nepal's health posts, and to all of our donors who have supported us through a difficult year. 

We thank you for your support.

Christina

Boulders are broken for use in laying foundation
Boulders are broken for use in laying foundation
Building materials carried on foot to Tipling
Building materials carried on foot to Tipling
Batching of cement for Tipling health post
Batching of cement for Tipling health post
Installing metal posts for for Tipling health post
Installing metal posts for for Tipling health post
Handover of completed Bhumisthan health post
Handover of completed Bhumisthan health post
May 23, 2016

A note from our founder one year after the quake

HHC has carried out ongoing clinics for victims
HHC has carried out ongoing clinics for victims

Namaste friends, 

It has been one year since a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck Nepal and turned our lives upside down. In total, the earthquake claimed more than 9,000 lives and destroyed upwards of 770,000 homes, 50,000 classrooms and 1,000 health posts. 

We were further challenged last fall when a five-month blockade along the border with India severely limited our access to fuel, cooking oil, medicines and other crucial supplies. Prices of basic necessities skyrocketed and daily life for Nepalis, still reeling from the earthquake, became nearly unbearable. 

Your generosity has gotten us through this difficult year. While coming to terms with the destruction of more than two decades of community development work has not been easy, we are heartened by the outpouring of concern, compassion and support we’ve received. Friends came together from all corners of the globe to raise funds and share stories about Himalayan HealthCare. We’ve received donations from high schools, ski clubs, medical offices, breweries, music schools, law firms and more.

To date, you’ve helped us raise nearly $2 million for earthquake relief and recovery operations. You’ve helped us provide food, shelter, clean water and emergency services to tens of thousands of victims in some of the most hard-to-reach parts of the country. We've given livestock and restored livelihood to hundreds of households and we're working to rebuild health posts, a district hospital and twenty schools that were destroyed in the earthquake.  

Together we are rebuilding stronger communities, with earthquake resilient buildings, health clinics with world-class capabilities and schools designed with students’ learning needs in mind. 

At the same time, we have continued to carry out our core programs, hosting clinics at our Ilam hospital, employing women artisans with dignified work, supporting scholarships for outstanding students to attend advanced technical trainings and developing clean water solutions for the remote villages of northern Dhading.

We are grateful to our institutional funders, including AmeriCares, Brother’s Brother Foundation, United Nations World Food Programme, GlobalGiving and the dozens of family and community foundations who have been critical in supporting this work. 

And we applaud our staff and volunteers in Nepal who, despite their own personal traumas, have worked day in and day out to make sure they get help to those who need it most.

With all this in mind, it’s important for us to let you know that Nepal still needs your help. 

The earthquake put more than 1 million children out of school. Many still don’t have a place where they can retreat to their studies, interact with their peers and talk with their teachers to process the profound changes and loss they’ve just experienced.

To that end, Himalayan HealthCare has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Nepal's Department of Education and we are working with the remote villages of Tipling, Sherthung and Lapa to rebuild 20 schools. We are in the process of raising $3 million for this endeavor. 

In all of the darkness and chaos of this past year, we are hopeful that this will be an opportunity to not just rebuild structures but to revamp Nepal's approach to rural education with teacher trainings and greater emphasis on critical thinking and question-based learning. You can help us make this a reality. 

We would like to ask all of you to consider donating to Himalayan HealthCare in the name of one of these schools. 

If you cannot give now, there are other ways to help. You can host a crafts sale with our fair trade artisanal products, spread the word about our e-commerce, www.jeevankala.com, or join us on our Fall 2016 trek. Everything counts and we encourage you to reach out to our US Director, Christina Madden, with ideas on how you can help.

We are grateful for your friendship and thank you again for your support during this trying year.

Best regards, 
Anil Parajuli

BBF and WFP supported HHC
BBF and WFP supported HHC's food relief programs
HHC volunteers repaired trails and built roads
HHC volunteers repaired trails and built roads
HHC restored livestock and livelihood to victims
HHC restored livestock and livelihood to victims
With AmeriCares, HHC is fixing health structures
With AmeriCares, HHC is fixing health structures
HHC is building 20 schools in northern Dhading
HHC is building 20 schools in northern Dhading

Links:

 
   

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