May 2, 2016

Far and wide: HRDC's network of amazing doctors

Bishal (far left) and his grateful family
Bishal (far left) and his grateful family

Three years ago, Bishal and some friends went swimming in the nearby river. In a freak accident, the riverbank collapsed and buried him. In the rush to free Bishal, his friends dragged him out, unknowingly dislocating his spine.

“I felt flushed, very scared and I couldn’t move my legs,” Bishal remembers. He was rushed to the local government hospital where he spent the night, only to be told by the doctors there was no treatment available for him; he was paralyzed from the waist down. For the next 20 days, Bishal remained bedridden.

A relative took Bishal to a nearby private hospital for a second opinion and, knowing its fees would be way beyond what they could pay, prayed for a miracle. Fortunately that hospital was partnered with the Hospital and Rehabilitation Center for Disabled Children (HRDC). The head of the orthopedics unit was Dr. Pramod Lamichhane, who studied under Dr. Ashok Banskota (HRDC's founder) with a residency scholarship from AHF.

He took on Bishal’s case at no cost to the family, operating on Bishal the next day and inserting a metal rod to run alongside his spine. It couldn’t reverse the damage, but at least enabled Bishal to sit upright in a wheel chair. Bishal remembers Dr. Pramod fondly. “He spoke kindly to me and was very compassionate,” unlike the doctors Bishal had seen initially.

Dr. Pramod then referred Bishal to HRDC’s field team in the area, who arranged for a wheelchair and visited Bishal’s home for rehabilitation sessions. Within a month, Bishal was able to lift himself out of his bed and into the chair, and generally had a modicum of independence.

For patients like Bishal, from a village near the jungles of southern Nepal, HRDC's network is able to provide life-changing treatment without him ever having to make the multi-day journey to the main hospital near Kathmandu. Critical to helping children across Nepal get the care they need and deserve.

Dr. Pramod has treated many children in need
Dr. Pramod has treated many children in need

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Mar 14, 2016

Life after graduation

Being part of SGT motivates us to succeed. We want SGT to be proud of their ‘daughters’.
- STOP Girl Trafficking alum

At AHF’s urging and with the help of our local partners, some of the girls who graduated school and left STOP Girl Trafficking have formed alumnae groups. And in Dhangadhi in the Far West, one group is dreaming big.

There are about 100 young women in the Dhangadhi alumnae group. Out of the 21 I met with, four were married, five had full time jobs, and two had part time jobs. That’s an employment rate of 33%, which is extraordinary for young women in rural areas of Nepal.

And they weren’t employed as day laborers, but had an astonishing array of jobs, including a radio DJ, a safe migration counselor, a professional Kabbadi player and coach, a museum guide and a private tutor. Four of the women have also applied for scholarships to study law in college. The young women credit RHEST (our partner), SGT and the alumnae group with their successes:

“Because of SGT we were educated and remain unmarried. We want to take advantage of this opportunity and really advance ourselves.”

The Dhangadhi alumnae group has even started its own microenterprise: sweater manufacturing. They raised over $3,000 selling secondhand clothing, giving computer lessons, and through a small monthly membership fee. With these funds they invested in a commercial spooler, loom and sewing machine. They selected four alums—one with previous experience as the manager—and opened up a small, one-room workshop in a house next to the local SGT office.

For now, their product range is limited to school uniform sweaters in two colors. 15 pieces a day, each costing $3.50 and selling for $5 earns them $22.50/day—more than the $5 they would earn as a farm laborer—and the work is year-round. RHEST is their first customer, and with more than 900 girls in the district, the order is substantial. But we know they’re up to the task.

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Dec 15, 2015

Health in a Time of Crisis

Dr. Ashok Banskota, in the field
Dr. Ashok Banskota, in the field

Drs. Ashok and Bibek Banskota, his son, and their hardworking team at the Hospital and Rehabilitation Center for Disabled Children never cease to impress us, but this year their expertise and resolve were tested as never before.

They mobilized the day after the earthquake, setting up emergency health camps in nine districts and opening the hospital doors to anyone, children and adults, who needed help — 24/7, for free. In the camps, they performed life-saving surgeries in tents, or outside, and provided everything from trauma care and mental health counselling to food, blankets, clothing, and 30,000 dignity kits filled with hygiene essentials to people who had lost everything. The camps, 98 in all, ended up offering relief and medical services to nearly 45,000 people.

Totally inspiring, but not surprising. Dr. Banskota’s utter dedication to healing is what led AHF to take a bet on him back in 1988. From our first meeting, our partnership grew. We followed him to a temporary children’s hospital he set up in a converted house, where the prosthetics were skillfully fashioned in the garage from PVC pipes. A few years later, in his quest to help more of Nepal’s most disadvantaged children, we helped him build “a real hospital”, the present HRDC. Since then, we have helped nurture it as it grew into the best pediatric orthopedic hospital in Nepal — with a network that reaches the poorest disabled children all over the country and trains more good doctors to carry on the work.

Over 66,000 mended children later, this partnership was a good bet. And now, as we finish repairs to cracked walls and broken pipes, and the young patients are being treated inside the hospital again, HRDC is back to doing what they are so impeccably good at — saving disabled children from a lifetime of suffering. And they do it all with compassion, patience, and a skilled hand.

Happy and healing at HRDC
Happy and healing at HRDC

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