Nepal Part 2: No concept of time

Majority of patients in the village have no transport, they walk anywhere from 10 mins to over 4 hours to get to the ARP clinic over rocky paths and hills. Many don’t have a concept of time, some don’t even know how old they are or how to read a clock. There was one woman who when asked her age, said she’s between 70 and 80 years old.  And another young man said he could be anywhere between 29 to 33 years old. Patients don’t come to the clinic by an appointment basis, they either come in the morning or afternoon and hang around with other villagers, sometimes for hours, chatting and enjoying each other’s company as they wait. Because they have no concept of time, unlike us who have 100 things going on in our minds, they are always in the moment and genuinely listening. One heart, one mind, one thing at a time. They master the art of ‘being’ which many of us in the first world have lost and are desperately seeking. How many of us look at the time every now and then at work to check when the day ends so we can go home? When was the last time we sat down quietly just to enjoy our meals, without having our TVs on or checking our phones at the same time?

A photo of Rachel and an old man

This patient walked over 4 hours to see us.

A photo of patients waiting outside the clinic

Patients interacting whilst waiting outside the clinic to be seen.

A photo of Rachel applying scalp acupuncture

Applying scalp acupuncture.

Photo of a boy chasing and balancing a hoop with a stick

A boy chasing and balancing a hoop with a stick. Children in the village have no technology to play with, but back to basics, playing outdoors and in the fields.


Photo of view from rooftop of clinic

The view from the rooftop of the clinic in Bajra Barahi.


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Nepal Part 1: My volunteer experience in a rural village

Photo of Rachel with 2 Nepalese Women

Sharing love in Nepal

For 2 months from January to March this year, I volunteered with the Acupuncture Relief Project (ARP) and provided primary healthcare to a rural village 3 hours South of Kathmandu, Nepal where there is no access to medical care.

Nepal remains one of the poorest countries on the planet. As we all know, on April 25th last year, the big earthquake had taken the lives of many and left many homeless. It has been a year since and I still saw many living in half collapsed homes and in temporarily built tents. And there is a high infantile death rate, mainly from lack of hygiene.

We saw on average 100-120 patients a day. We treated patients suffering from poverty and aftermath of earthquake. For the majority who has no money to pay for medicine, seeking hospital care may mean they lose their farm and home. Common conditions include digestive issues from dirty water and lack of food, respiratory problems, musculoskeletal and skin diseases, stroke rehab, recovery from tuberculosis, typhoid fever, hypertension and diabetes.

I was part of a team which consisted of 5 health practitioners and 2 team leaders. We all come from different parts of the world. Including the local coordinators and cook, there were 10 of us in total living in the same building. Basically for 2 months, I learnt to share a bathroom with 10 people and a room with 3 other women. It was in the middle of winter, temperatures can drop down to -3 degrees at night with no heating available. Squat toilets and no toilet paper. Perhaps a tepid shower once a week, twice if lucky. Frequent electricity blackouts. We ate whatever our cook made for us as food choices were limited and mainly vegetarian.

That having said, volunteering with ARP in poverty and disaster stricken Nepal is one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had.  Not only had I got to meet and work with an incredible team of practitioners and locals, I was also able to gain firsthand experience of using acupuncture and herbal medicine to treat acute/third world diseases. And the invaluable lessons I have learnt from the way of life of the Nepalese villagers, have deeply changed my life and my practice of medicine. As a healthcare practitioner, this experience has strengthened my lifelong determination to support the wellbeing of people so they can work to their full potential to contribute to society in their own ways.  In the following weeks, I will upload a series of posts on my experiences and realisations volunteering in Nepal.

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