A month later

I can hardly believe it has been a month since the first big earthquake in Nepal on April 25th.  It has been followed with many aftershocks per day plus another large one on May 12 resulting in over 8000 deaths and double that in casualties.  Over 300,000 home have been damaged and particularly in the rural areas, people are still living in temporary tarp shelters.  In the past few days there have been some wicked storms – very strong winds and horizontal rains …. and monsoon won’t arrive for another few weeks. It’s usually rice planting season and not much of that is happening these days, I worry about the impact of no rice harvest in a few months time.  All I can say is, enough already – sigh.

The Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre (SIRC) continues to accept newly injured patients and the team continue to, after the initial assessment, care for their immediate medical needs as well as defining individualized 3-month rehabilitation programs for each patient.

  • There are currently 135 patients receiving care at SIRC (38 existing patients injured prior to the earthquake plus 97 newly injured patients as a result of the earthquakes).
  • There are an additional 46 patients with spinal injury in acute care/tertiary hospitals in Kathmandu that will be referred to SIRC imminently.
  • That’s a total of 181 patients that SIRC has to care for – nearly four times what SIRC’s usual capacity.
  • It is envisaged more people will present for rehabilitation from the outlying rural districts and central hills that have been most severely impacted by the earthquake.

Now more than ever, funding is needed and over the past 10 days or so, this has been the focus for Esha Thapa, SIRC’s Executive Director along with Stephen Muldoon, Assistant Director of International Complex Care Development, Livability International.  Stephen (who is Irish, of course!) is assisting Esha in sourcing appropriate funds from the various aid agencies on the ground in Nepal.  God speed as they navigate through the requirements needed to receive these urgently needed funds.

Esha with her daughter Aahana at the staff picnic last year

Esha with her daughter Aahana at the staff picnic last year

A shot of Stephen during an interview, a great advocate of SCI

A shot of Stephen during an interview, a passionate advocate of SCI

Stephen arrived at SIRC on may 11, and was there to witness the 2nd large earthquake on May 12.  Listen to his interview with BBC’s Radio Foyle the following day.

Kudos to Nikita Kayastha for her tremendous work in pulling together the donation request package that has enabled Esha and Stephen to apply for this funding.  You will remember Nikita did her MBA internship at SIRC while I worked there, I always knew she was a gem :-).  Binay Shrestha, another MBA intern that I worked with last year, has been volunteering his time at SIRC whilst holding down a full-time job.  Binay’s expertise is web communication and he is now focused on completing the SIRC website – which was being re-written just as the first  earthquake and needed some additional work before launch.

Nikita and Binay in happier times - when they took me on the foodie tour in their home town of Bhaktapur

Nikita and Binay in happier times – when they took me on the foodie tour in their home town of Bhaktapur last year

Today is Dr Raju and Sheela’s last day at SIRC.  Drs Anzil and Jas have already returned home – they all have work commitments in Dhaka.   I am unsure how SIRC would have managed without them.  The sheer numbers of new patients with various levels of acuity demanded the attention of a large medical team.  With their departure, Dr Bishu, the House Officer at Dhulikhel Hospital will continue with the medical care of the patients until another doctor arrives from Thailand on June 1.  It looks like a western doctor may be in a position to join SIRC from mid June for an extended period of time – fingers crossed that works out.  In the meantime, Fiona Stephenson continues to coordinate volunteer requests from doctors, nurses, physios and occupational therapists with SCI experience.

The Dhaka team on the tarmac when they arrived in Kathmandu with their crates of generous donations from our colleagues in Bangladesh.

The Dhaka team on the tarmac when they arrived in Kathmandu with their crates of generous donations from our colleagues in Bangladesh.

May 20 saw a visit from the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DfID) delegation to SIRC.  DfID’s Director General, Joy Hutcheon and her colleagues Mark Smith, Deputy Head of Mission in Nepal and Natasha Mesko, Health Advisor were all impressed with the services being provided to the earthquake survivors with spinal injury. Let’s hope the aid agencies who are providing the funding think the same!

Prachanda Shrestha, Chair of SIRC Board, welcomes DfID's Director General, Joy Hutcheon to SIRC with a khata.

Prachanda Shrestha, Chair of SIRC Board, welcomes DfID’s Director General, Joy Hutcheon to SIRC with a khata.

Mandira, SIRC's Head of Nursing, outlining her department to Joy Hutcheon.

Mandira, SIRC’s Head of Nursing, outlining her department to Joy Hutcheon.

Chanda (in pink) SIRC

Chanda (in pink) SIRC”s Rehab In Charge enjoying a light moment with Joy Hutcheon and Natasha Mesko of DfID.

Dr Raju with Esha and Joy Hutcheon at SIRC.  Stephen Muldoon of Livability International is to the right of Joy.

Dr Raju with Esha and Joy Hutcheon at SIRC. Stephen Muldoon of Livability International is to the right of Joy.

A visit to one of the temporary wards in a tent that holds eight patients.

A visit to one of the temporary wards in a tent that holds eight patients.

Joy Hutcheon, DfID Director General wishing good wishes to Esha Thapa, SIRC's Executive  Director.  To the right is Shanta Dixit,  co-founder of SIRC.

Joy Hutcheon, DfID Director General wishing good wishes to Esha Thapa, SIRC’s Executive Director. To the right is Shanta Dixit, co-founder of SIRC.

You can read more on the UK Government’s Department for International Development here.

Continue to check out updates from Peter & Claire on their blog SpiNepal.

About Kate Coffey

After 25+ years in the investment management industry, I packed in my job and spent 2014 living and working in Nepal and Bangladesh, and visited some other places in between. It took me on a journey I did not expect, had me fall in love with Nepal and it's people, and become inspired at the work of Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre (SIRC) located 2 hours east of Kathmandu in the Sanga foothills. Since 2014, I have continued my warm relationship with SIRC and worked closely with my friends there in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquakes to date. This blog initially started out as a travelogue of sorts to keep friends and family worldwide updated while I was off on my travels in 2014. Since then it has morphed into a life story of the many places I have lived and worked and of the wonderful people I have met along the way. I hope you enjoy.
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