Gift of the Givers medical team helps rural Nepalese


A woman gets a voltaren injection at a primary healthcare outreach programme in Lele village, about 1.5 hours away from Kathmandu. The Gift of the Givers medical team visited the area to provide locals with medical care.

KATHMANDU – A tree commonly found in most Nepali villagers provides shade and spiritual comfort to many.

Known as a banyan or fig tree, many villagers gather every morning around the tree to pray and water it, explains Gyanu Raja Maharjan, from Tribhuvan University’s Central Department of Geography.

The tall tree, with far-reaching branches, is surrounded by built-up steps where local people gather to shelter from the sun.

“In my view, there is a scientific reason as well for people gathering here, because the tree gives more oxygen than other plants,” said Maharjan.

Pictured above: The banyan tree in Lele village on the outskirts of Kathmandu provides shelter for local people. 

On Monday, the shade provided by the banyan tree in Kavre village in Lele valley made it the perfect location to set up a mobile clinic during the heat of the day.

A South African medical team is conducting a primary healthcare outreach programme in rural areas on the outskirts of Kathmandu, in Nepal.

They are part of the Gift of the Givers disaster relief mission to the Himalayan country, following a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake on Saturday 25 April.

More than 7,000 people have died and millions more are now homeless.

Pictured above: A woman stands in front of a house destroyed by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake which struck Nepal on 25 April 2015. 

Each day, a team heads out to a different rural village within driving distance in of Kathmandu.

On Monday, the team travelled to Lele village in the Lalitpur district, about a one and a half hour drive from Kathmandu.

The village is home to mostly farmers who grow wheat, rice and pumpkins amongst other things.

While the area didn’t experience major extensive damage from the earthquake, people living there are in dire need of primary health services.

Some villagers need to walk more than two hours from their homes to get to a nearby clinic.

The Gift of the Givers team were able to treat villagers for high blood pressure and muscular pain.

“When you have a major disaster like this all the major emphasis and focus is on the disaster victims and everyone forgets about the sick  and infirm patients, because all the healthcare facilities are now focused on catering for the disaster, and rightfully so,” said Dr Jameel Desai, a maxillo-facial and oral surgeon from Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal.

In the two hours the team set up the pop-up clinic, they treated more 135 patients.

Pictured above: A woman gets her blood pressure read at a primary healthcare outreach programme in Lele village, which is about 1.5 hours drive from Kathmandu.

“What we do as part of the mission is an outreach programme to let these people know that they’re not forgotten and that we do try and take care of minor ailments,” said Desai.

Twin brothers Ram and Laxman Silwal both live in the village.

The wall in the back of their house fell down in the quake.

“My board exam is coming nearer so I was studying. Suddenly there came a big sound, like maybe a hurricane was coming. And then the ground shook rapidly, and it came and came rapidly,”

“When we went out there we saw all the houses that were destroyed, they were crying and shouting, help, help,” he said.

Both brothers are studying science and hope to become doctors one day. They were able to help the South African team at the clinic by translating information.

They explained to the locals exactly what their  prescribed medicine was for and the dosage they needed to take..

“I feel confident and proud that I’m able to help the foreign doctors treat the ill people,” said Ram.

Pictured above: Ram Silwal gives medicine to an old woman in Lele village, a rural area 1.5 hours drive from Kathmandu. Silwal was volunteering and translating for the Gift of the Givers medical team who visited the area on a primary outreach programme.

South African rescue worker Benedict Ledwaba was responsible for giving patients Voltaren injections to help relieve muscular and body pain.

Many elderly women in the village complained of sore backs and shoulders.

These women spend their days doing hard work in the fields. After they have cut the wheat, they pack it into large baskets and carry it long distances.

Years of doing this work leads to painful joints.  Some of the women say their husbands are doing migrant labour overseas in countries like Dubai and South Korea.

Ledwaba told that doing this work was a humbling experience. He said, “It’s really overwhelming, people are quite humble and I’m really proud of South Africa to be doing something like this."

Ledwaba said he wishes more South Africans could come here to see the conditions under which people live. ” I think sometimes we forget how privileged we are,” he said.

Pictured above: A woman gets a Voltaren injection at a primary healthcare outreach programme in Lele village, about 1.5 hours drive from Kathmandu. 

In the first two days the medical team worked in Kathmandu, they performed 68 surgical operations and treated 435 patients.

The team will continue to work in Nepal until the end of the week.

Pictured above: A young girl cries after her tooth was extracted by a doctor from the Gift of the Givers team. 

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