Sep 23, 2020

Zooming with the inspiring Banskotas

Dr. Ashok Banskota and his son, Dr. Bibek Banskota
Dr. Ashok Banskota and his son, Dr. Bibek Banskota

Recently, we were fortunate to spend some Zoom time with Dr. Ashok and Dr. Bibek Banskota, the doctors who run the Hospital and Rehabilitation Center for Disabled Children (HRDC). Every year, they heal thousands of children from poor families all over Nepal, boys and girls with untreated injuries or congenital disabilities who would otherwise face a lifetime of suffering. Through unparalleled skill and compassion, they help mend both physical and psychological scars. New patients are often surprised to meet other children like themselves and are encouraged to dream big. HRDC also offers counseling for patients and their families and works to promote inclusion and end discrimination in their communities.

Although the world has sheltered and slowed, the Banskotas, along with the staff of HRDC, are continuing to treat children and planning how to continue in the “new normal”. Here is a summary of our call highlighting their work.

Since April, HRDC has only been able to treat 73 patients at the hospital – as many as would be seen in 3 weeks in normal times. They expect to conduct 20 surgeries a week for now, increase as it becomes safe, and are taking all the safety precautions: quarantining, testing (same day results), beds 6ft apart, masks, fever checks, frequent handwashing, giving treatment with a screen separating the patient and staff, and a whole host of other protocols. AHF’s contribution of PPE supplies has meant there is enough for the staff, patients, and caretakers. The virtual clinics and mobile camps they have conducted around the country have been very helpful, and we expect those and their satellite clinics to continue to play a big role in treatment and outreach.

HRDC has had to make some cutbacks, which were done by creating a rotating roster for staff in a fair, transparent, and compassionate manner. Their team has been very resourceful during this difficult time and even began growing their own vegetables on the hospital grounds to supplement the kitchen.

All of this is possible because of you. The months to come will bring more uncertainty, but we and HRDC are dedicated to helping these children live full, pain-free lives, and we aren’t going anywhere. On behalf of the many young people touched by your kindness, thank you.

Mobile Clinics - The new normal!
Mobile Clinics - The new normal!
Thank you from the HRDC Staff
Thank you from the HRDC Staff

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Jun 8, 2020

When the going gets tough, the tough get going

As the world shelters and slows, STOP Girl Trafficking is even more important to keep at-risk girls in Nepal safe. The whole country is on strict lockdown, and many parents are out of work and struggling. Laborers who travel to cities or India for work are returning home and bringing the risk of Covid to their villages without clinics or hospitals nearby. They have no choice; their jobs are gone. And none of them know when they’ll be able to return to work and earn money again.

This will put girls even more in danger from traffickers as parents lose their tiny incomes and become desperate, especially now that schools are closed, cutting girls off from vital safety nets. But Dr. Aruna Uprety and her team are keeping close track of the girls in SGT, staying in touch and getting the word out about how to stay safe right now – both from the virus and from predators who would take advantage.

The specter fast rising is hunger, looming over towns and villages alike. In the most vulnerable communities, where SGT girls live, it has already arrived. Aruna and her team are preparing to get emergency food relief to villages already in the shadow of hunger as soon as the lockdown lifts.

Meanwhile, SGT alums have started making face masks for their communities. One alum who had started a small sweater knitting factory has retooled to make masks as well. Talk about community role models!

This is a difficult time for everyone. We do not know what the coming months will bring as the pandemic crisis unfolds, but we are committed to keeping these girls safe and helping their families weather the storm. As Aruna recently reminded me, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

Please, we need your help. Your kindness towards these at-risk girls will touch their lives in even more essential ways during this precarious time. When it is safe, they will pick up their school backpacks again and head into a more thoughtful, careful year. And you will have made that possible.

  

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May 26, 2020

Breaking the "Curse" with HRDC

Siblings Amit and Ajita before treatment
Siblings Amit and Ajita before treatment

A couple, farmers from the Far West in Nepal, felt blessed when they gave birth to a healthy baby boy. But as their son, Amit, grew, both of his feet bent inward with clubfoot. A year later, they had a daughter named Ajita. Unfortunately, they soon realized she had the same condition as her brother.

In Nepal, it is commonly believed that a person’s karma (sum of good and bad deeds) from past lives contributes to their current fortunes and misfortunes. After giving birth to two children with bilateral clubfoot, the couple felt cursed. The family also faced stigma in their community, from neighbors who believed their children’s disabilities were their fault for previous misdeeds.

As they got older, it became difficult for Amit and Ajita to walk and do their daily activities. But their family is poor and could not afford treatment. Eventually they came to accept the condition as their destiny – until the Hospital and Rehabilitation Center for Disabled Children (HRDC) came into their lives.

The family went to a screening camp held nearby by HRDC, and the siblings were referred to the main HRDC hospital just outside Kathmandu for treatment – an opportunity that changed their fate forever.

At HRDC, they were treated with skill and compassion. After four months of surgery, recovery, and physical therapy, Amit and Ajita could walk – and even run – easily and without pain. The “curse” was broken, it was like a dream come true.

Now back home in the Far West, the siblings will receive regular follow up visits from a local health worker to help with their physical therapy exercises and make sure there are not any complications. Their family is so grateful to HRDC for treating both the physical disability caused by clubfoot and helping to heal the emotional pain of being shunned by their community.

HRDC’s philosophy is based on the idea of treating the whole child, addressing emotional and social suffering alongside the physical. They work with patients, their families, and community leaders to make spaces more accessible, raise awareness about disabilities, and try to end exclusion and discrimination.

Through their nationwide network, health camps, and special events HRDC is reaching more communities and children in need every year. Regardless of caste, ethnicity, or their family’s financial situation, every child who comes to HRDC is treated equally – and they leave happier and healthier. This life-changing work is only possible because of your help.

Thank you for helping Nepal’s most disadvantaged children feel the joy of learning to walk, being able to go to school, and seeing a future full of new possibilities. We are very grateful to you for opening up your heart to these kids in need. 

  

Amit and Ajita standing tall after their treatment
Amit and Ajita standing tall after their treatment

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