For the past couple of years I’d been thinking about doing some sort of volunteer project , but had no idea how to get started. Then a few months ago I hit on the idea that I might simply be able to apply skills I already had to a project that was already established. Having a background in medical equipment installation and repair, I first looked for a domestic organization I could work with, perhaps an organization that repaired and refurbished medical equipment to donate to developing countries.
After some time I did manage to find a couple of places doing that but, for various reasons, I decided they weren’t what I was looking for. But during my search I did find out about an organization called Himalayan Healthcare. So I sent an email, explaining what I do and asked if I could be of service. Things just developed from there.
Arriving at Dr. Megh Bahadur Parajuli Community Hospital in Ilam, I was struck by the unusual design of the building. Coming from America, I was used to a medical facility basically taking the form of a giant box, sealed off from the outside world. Yet here was an entryway which led into an attractive and quite functional courtyard that connected all of the areas of the hospital in a very practical way.
I spent my two-week stay there doing several things. First of all, I set up equipment I had brought over and trained the staff on how to use it. I also spent quite a bit of time cleaning and repairing many of the medical devices they already had. Lastly, I put together a basic Electrical Safety inspection program since I noticed that a lot of the wiring was in disrepair and in some cases posed a danger of shock or explosion.
For me, the most impressive component of the whole operation was the staff. They all seem to be quite skilled at what they do. They convey an atmosphere of genuine caring and empathy, and were always a pleasure to work with. Coming from the West, the working conditions are a little rougher than I’m used to. Witnessing the level of attention and care the patients receive there, especially given the limited resources, was truly inspiring.
For more information about Himalayan Healthcare, please visit www.himalayan-healthcare.org.
Contributor/Photographer: Avichala (Larry Parisot).