I think I have already told you about an ex-patient of SIRC named Ram who wanted to wheel from the Tibet/China border to the Indian border, all to raise awareness for those in wheelchairs and to show life does not end after a spinal injury. Lofty idea but a few of us were a little concerned as to the logistics needed for such a long journey, and we were unsure if he had physically prepared enough. Knowing about Rick Hansen’s Man In Motion trip made me really think what was needed to make this journey a success. So for this first Wheelchair Journey, we convinced Ram to start small and wheel “only” 360km which should take him about a month.
The starting point is hoped to be Namo Buddha and the end point is planned to be Lumbini – the birthplace of Buddha. Two holy sites for Buddhists. Check out the links for more information. Yesterday, a few of us visited Namo Buddha which is about one hour’s drive from Bhainsepati where we work, along roads that got steadily challenging, until we reached the Thrangu Tashi Yangtse Monastery.
On this trip were: our very talented driver, SIRC Social Worker Suresh, SIRC Occupational Therapist Prajwal, Ram of course and me. The aim of the trip was to scope out the road leading down from the monastery and also seek permission from the monastery for Ram to commence his journey there.
The road starts out to be paved, a highway so the only challenge is traffic. Then we turn off onto a secondary road and that’s covered in gravel – a challenge for a wheelchair for sure. This gravel road then disintegrates into a dirt track with stones, big pot holes and very little level ground. I was the only one in the car wondering how Ram would wheel his wheelchair under such circumstances, but clearly I was just being a wussy westerner – they all were pretty calm about Ram’s ability to wheel under such conditions. Ram included – I admire his self-confidence!
We arrived at the Monastery and walked up a long wide entrance way to where we could gain access to the offices. Ram had to stay behind as there were numerous flights of stairs up to the office. The Secretary of the Monastery and Lama was there so we met with him for about 20 mins. I said nothing, Suresh did all the talking – explaining about Ram, his injury and the journey he wanted to take. Even without Nepali, I could see the Lama was intrigued and kinda excited (as excited as Lamas get). He came to meet Ram,, who was so very thrilled to meet him, and was a little shy initially. No photos of this exchange as the Lama asked me not to. But we left him feeling very positive that Ram will indeed be able to commence his journey at the monastery – the Lama had to consult his committee and he would let us know. Fingers crossed!
The Monastery itself is just beautiful, so serene and peaceful high up in the mountains. None of us had ever been there so we decided to check it out. Easier said than done when one of our group is wheelchair bound. I got a bit of a workout carrying the wheelchair up numerous flights of stairs while the guys took it in turns to carry Ram. The delight on Ram’s face to be able to see the Monastery was payback for the workout, it was an honour really.
The following are a bunch of photos I took, very bright sunlight and my camera is but a point & click so the quality of the photos is not great, but you will get the sense of our time at the monastery all the same. Double click any of the photos to make them larger.