The Nepal Trust has pioneered health care and knowledge in the remote 'Hidden Himalayas' for over 20 years. We have seen tremendous improvements in not only health but also in the general lives of the villagers of this forgotten region. However, it is important to remember that we will not be there for ever and at some point the local population and the government must take over. It is important, and not practical, not to rush but to take time to ensure that the foundations laid will remain and continue to develop and prosper. Our clinics have been built and developed at the request of the local people through their village health committees. Not all are officially designated government clinics but it is hoped they will be through demand and pressure from the health committees. Where a clinic is officially classified as a government one the Trust has been asked to remain by the committee to run it to ensure efficiency. It is planned that, one day, all our clinics will become part of the government system.
Bargaun Birthing Centre is a good example of a government clinic, built and refurbished by the Trust, which remains under our management at the request of the local health committee. It is linked to the clinic at Torpa, our very first clinic, about an hours walk away. Sarkegad, in south Humla, is a similar example that ensures staff efficiency and broadens availibility to a wider public.
Our latest clinic, Yari Birthing Centre in north Humla, has completed building and equipment and furniture has been ordered for delivery very soon. Meanwhile Community Maternal Health training has begun for 68 women and mothers.
The Little Doctors programme - health education for students - goes from strength to strength. Funding is now in place to run four courses this year. Up to 100 young boys and girls will learn the essentials of good personal hygiene and cleanliness which they can pass on to their families.
Many of our other projects are health related. For example, renewable energy - clean energy - is healthy for the environment and reduces respitory diseases in the home. We have established many micro-hydro and solar energy schemes over the years. To support these schemes we are building a Renewable Energy Service Centre in the district - the first of its kind anywhere in Nepal. The project has yet to be fully funded and we would welcome further support.
We are working on a large water and sanitation project (WASH) at Kaskikot which will eventually provide clean water and sanitation to over 17000 people including many schools and public areas.
Our education portfolio includes Thehe school in the largest Hindu village in Humla. It is now completed and handed over to the education authorities. Our planned projects include schools at Kapilvastu (Lumbini), Bharatpur School for the Deaf (Chitwan) and Lipne (Humla). New schools will be built at Shree Ghorkonath and Shree Reshankyu in Sindalpulchowk as part of our Earthquake response. Work is due to start shortly once government administration has been dealt with.
Agriculture and food security are very important for good health. Our large project in Humla has been extended for another 3 years with our main funder. This will benefit 325 farmers.
As you can see, we are busy! However, I am proud to say that over 20 years every single project we have established is still there and operating - because we are there!
Of course nothing would happen without the support of our donors and volunteers for which we are eternally grateful. Many, many thanks to you all.
Simikot airport now has a black-topped landing strip! So what, you say. But this is a huge improvement over the short dirt strip previously that engendered so much trepidation and excitement on landing in the small Twin Otter after flying for almost an hour through deep valleys and cloud formations hoping the mountains would not get too close to the wing tips! This is progress! When you land you see young people going about with their smart phones and Facebooking their friends in Kathmandu. Satellite dishes sprout everywhere and people watch their favourite television programmes. The economy is improving and smart hotels are springing up. There is even a yummy bakery. Of course, as you leave Simikot (walking that is, because there are no roads or public transport), you rapidly move back in time to a more relaxed and traditional lifestyle but a lifestyle still deeply embedded in the old beliefs and way of life.
But these ways are changing slowly but surely as education informs and improves the old ways. The Nepal Trust is at the forefront of these changes and our programmes in health, renewable energy, income generation, agriculture, etc, are changing lives for the better. This is real progress that is saving lives and improving life chances. Not easily spotted like mobile phones but, nevertheless, there!
Winter is a slow time in the Hidden Himalayas and limits movement as trails and high passes get snowed up. Our clinics continue to operate at all times. Our new Yari Birthing Centre and Health Clinic is now complete but support is still required to fully furnish and equip it. An Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANM) has been recruited from the local community and is now in the clinic and running Community Health Awareness programmes focussing on health and family planning issues. These programmes are also being promoted in our Sarkegad clinic in south Humla.
We now stock over 90 types of medicines in our clinics. These are purchased in Kathmandu where we have quality control, and driven for 14 hours to Nepalganj on the Indian border. From there they are flown to Simikot for distribution. This is no easy task and requires porters and pack animals that can take up to a week over 5000m mountain passes.
Our Little Doctor programme goes from strength to strength. We have been running this for 15 years and we are still the only organisation in Nepal running it. For the last few years we have managed three programmes throughout the district but in 2016 we plan to increase this to 4 classes. The main objectives are:
Put very simply, children pass on their new knowledge to their own families.
Thank you to our supporters and donors for all your help. We can do nothing without you and we hope you will stay with us and even pass on what you know to your friends and hopefully encourage them to come on board. Our health programme, in particular, requires regular funding so if you can come up with new ideas we are here to listen. Thank you once again.
Building anything in the 'Hidden Himalayas' is no easy task. Its remoteness and lack of roads makes progress a slow business often compounded by monsoon rains and harsh winters. However, the local communities have drive and ambition to improve their lives and are willing to work hard towards that end. All infrastructure projects implemented by the Nepal Trust require a certain level of committment by the local communities so they have a feeling of pride and ownership. As well as financial inputs they may be required to dig trenches, build walls, collect stone and timber but they do this willingly and with gusto.
Our most recent health project involves the construction of three strategically positioned Birthing Centres to give women a safe place to get help, advice and clean facilities to give birth to their babies. This has never been available before and mothers have often had to give birth in outhouses and other unsafe places.
The two Centres at Bargaun and Sarkegad are both up and running successfully. A Community awareness programme has started at Sarkegad to inform villagers about natal and baby care and how the new Birthing centre can benefit them.
The third Centre at Yari in north Humla is well under way. The building is nearing completion and fitting out will start very soon. Staff have been recruited and are, meanwhile, working in other clinics to build local knowledge and experience.
Elsewhere, water, sanitation and health (WASH) posters have been printed and distributed to local schools. This is complementary to our Little Doctors programme (LD) and will ensure that all pupils receive some education and training about basic hygiene and health care. Three LD courses have been successfully delivered in 2015 in the villages of Simikot, Bargaun and Yalbang.
Thank you to all our supporters for everything you do to help our cause. Nothing can be done without you and you are an integral part of the vision of a healthy and prosperous life in the remote 'Hidden Himalayas'. Please pass your encouragement to others.
Although Humla and the Hidden Himalayas escaped the worst of the recent devastating earthquake concerns remain and local people remain vigilant. Tremors occur and there is a strong belief that the next 'big one' will be in the west.
However, life must go on as people go about their daily business and domestic chores. Slowly, but surely, life is improving in this remote corner of the world and the Nepal Trust has contributed to this in no small way. Its health programmes linked to renewable energy initiatives, income generation, agricultural improvements and education are having a considerable impact by raising general health and living standards.
For the very first time pregnant mothers have clean and qualified facilities for giving birth under safe conditions. Our new Birthing Centre initiative is now functioning with qualified staff.
Bargaun: A new ANM (Aux Nurse Midwife), Mrs Nabina Lama is now working in the centre alongside Healthworker Yangzum Lama. The Centre is fully functioning and the local health committee will hold an inauguration ceremony later this year - no doubt with great festivity.
Sarkegad: The new Birthing Centre is now complete and the adjoining health clinic fully renovated. A water supply has been restored and installed. It is hoped that the Centre will be operational by next month when a new ANM is recruited.
Yari: Local building materials (wood, stone,etc) have been collected. Foundations will be laid soon and, hopefully, building work will be completed by the end of 2015. A health assistant (Mrs Jigme Doma Lama) has been recruited. Currently she is assisting at our Yalbang clinic to develop more knowledge and skills. More staff will be recruited when the Centre is ready to open its doors.
Our Little Doctors Health programme for young students goes from strength to strength. This health education initiative teaches young students (10-15 years) the basics of good personal health care, domestic issues and family planning. The students pass their knowledge on to parents, siblings and other family members to eventually remove some traditional beliefs and improve general health practices. This year we have supported 3 programmes in Simikot, Bargaun and Yalbang involving a total of 66 students.
Attached to this report is our latest newsletter Namaste. Although this issue heavily features our involvement in earthquake relief it also updates our other work in health and education.
Thank you all for your support for our work. We could do little without your help. We hope you can continue to provide support and please let your friends and colleagues know about us.
With our best wishes. Namaste!
Nepal is now synonymous with earthqake disaster and the devastation it has caused over large areas of the country. Whole villages have been wiped out and thousands have died. However some areas remote from the epicentre have suffered less or hardly at all and our project in the Hidden Himalayas - the district of Humla - is one of these. Aftershocks and minor tremors continue and everyone has to remain aware.
Our new Birthing Centres are progressing well despite the havoc caused by the earthquake and Bargaun is fully kitted out and will be operational by this June. All equipment has been purchased and sent to the Sarkegad centre which should be operational in a few months.
Construction of the Yari centre has started. A young Health Assistant from the local community, Ms Jigme Doma Lama, has been recruited. Until the new Birthing Clinic is operational she will work at the Yalbang and Muchu clinics. Her story is interesting:
'Ms Jigme Doma Lama, 20 years old, comes from a farming family of Muchu village ward no: 6, Humla. It was difficult for her family to sustain life but her parents encouraged her to study and she graduated her school leaving certificate from Manasarovar High School in Simikot. Since her child hood, she had witnessed difficulties of her family and community in getting proper health services as the government health post in nearby villages never had staff working in them. These people were from outside and did not want to stay in the village due to remoteness and other reasons. She therefore always wanted to study medicine and help her community and family. But while in school, her father had an accident during farm work and became disabled due to lack of treatment. She therefore faced even more financial difficulties in her further studies. But she was determined and with the help of relatives and friends, she managed to enroll in a Health Assistant course (a three years’ medical course) in Kathmandu. She successfully graduated, did a six months’ internship and when looking for a job opportunity to work in Humla, she got in contact with the Nepal Trust office.
She is happy now that she has been chosen as a HA health worker in Nepal Trust health program in Yari and upper Humla. She is happy to serve her community with her skills and is looking forward to fulfilling her child hood dream. But at the same time she also looks forward to further trainings in future to serve the people more effectively.'
This lovely story illustrates the importance of encouraging local involvement and pride in these remote communities. People sent to work there from other areas find it difficult to live in a community with a different language and culture.
Thank you to all our donors and supporters for your continuing help and well wishes. We hope you will continue with us and share the story with your friends. The people of the Hidden Himalayas are very self reliant and survive most of what nature throws at them but they need that little help and support to make the next step up the ladder.
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