BIG MISERY: HEALTH CAMPS FOR THE EARTQUAKE VICTIMS OF NUWAKOT
To provide medical care to as many earthquake victims in Nuwatok as possible before the winter season started, our employees as well as the medical team, which is well experienced due to our other health camps, went to the sometimes almost destroyed villages in December 2015. For nine days, they went from village to village with the urgently needed medicine in their luggage to reach the completely desperate people. In some very serious cases we also took care of the transportation to a hospital for further treatment. Nuwakot is a mountainous region of Nepal and located north of Kathmandu and was severely hit by the earthquakes in May 2015. About 1,000 people died tragically, more than 1,300 were injured. Up to 30,000 homes were destroyed. Governmental support for reconstruction and medical care is even still largely non-existent. The dire consequences: Many injured were still untreated and due to the winter season, the villagers became increasingly sick. The cold wind whistled through their makeshift and only insufficiently heated shelters and getting a bad cold was still the most harmless thing to happen to these sorely afflicted people.
The timely procurement of medicines was a real challenge. The economic crisis kept forcing Nepal more and more to its knees – India had not yet loosened the trade embargo on Nepal, which, inter alia, prevented the import of fuels. Accordingly difficult and costly was the organization and transportation of the medicine. Our first stop was the school of Mandredhunga where we set up our health camp. We could treat 199 people just there, half of them children. Then we went up to the mountains: The Naya Nepal School and the Dakshinkali School were our next interstation’s. Here again, we were able to help 222 sick villagers. Finally, we reached the village Mularbari where another 217 children and adults were waiting for their treatment. The competent health commissioner of the government had visited our health camp at the very first day and thanked Back to Life for the help in time before the winter had started. He wrote into our guestbook: „I am impressed by the free distribution of high-quality medicine and also how well the health camp is organized by Back to Life.“
Most common diseases were the flu and fever, respiratory diseases, eye and ear infections, vitamin deficiency, skin diseases, gastro-intestinal diseases, but also pneumonia and malnutrition repeatedly occurred. But even more serious cases stood out from the flood of seasonal diseases: some were late effects of inadequate supply after the earthquake, other issues were simply not yet diagnosed by doctors due to the poverty of the villagers. 71-year-old Radha Kumari Rai who we treated for severe pneumonia, told us about the situation at their home and thanked us with tears in her eyes: „We currently have no house and live in a shelter without protective walls. During the long nights it is terribly cold, and we don’t have enough clothes to keep us warm. Unbelievable, your courage to come here and help us is just extraordinary. I wish you a long life!“
The 9-year-old boy Bikesh Rai was a particularly serious case. Our doctors diagnosed a congenital heart defect and a defect of the ventricles. It quickly became obvious that we could not do very much here – he needed a close examination of the heart at a specialized heart clinic in Kathmandu. The boy’s mother was desperate and cried bitterly. Until now she had had no idea why her child was feeling so bad. Now she became aware of the full implications of this diagnosis. She would have never been able to pay for the transportation, examinations, surgery and medication. A slow death sentence for the boy. But she started to hope for the best when we reassured her that we would take care of the transportation as well as for the costs of the examination. One of our employees will accompany Bikesh and will look after him. If a surgery becomes necessary, we will of course try everything to make it possible.