A tardy monsoon season this year

A tardy monsoon this year is a blessing really, it gives an extra few days to get some more semi-permanent shelters built for people who have lost their homes.  According to Nepal’s Meteorological Forecast Division, monsoon has already hit India and is moving NE, due to hit Eastern Nepal in a matter of days.  There have been few heavy spells of rain but it’s not been consistent enough to call it monsoon officially.    When monsoon does come, it will travel west  and deluge for about 3 months, then retreat the way it came.

Monsoon is usually fairly challenging for rural Nepalese at the best of times.  They ensure their shelter is watertight to handle the incessant rains, keeping their few belongings and more importantly their food supply – dry.  Monsoon season also tends to bring a barrage of water-borne diseases with it.  Potable water is hard to find.  This year, there is the added risk of landslides – much of the mountainous ground has already been disturbed, and with continuing aftershocks plus a lot of rain, the risk of landslides is significant.

Fortunately for SIRC, there is minimal risk of landslides during the upcoming monsoon in their location.  And the facility withstood the force of both earthquakes, bar a few cracks here and there that do not pose any structural risk, thankfully.  Still, some patients are choosing to remain outside in tents rather go into any building.

One of the tents at SIRC housing 10 patients, situation in the entrance way to the facility.  Photo credit Dr Stanley Ducharme

One of the tents at SIRC housing 10 patients, situation in the entrance way to the facility. Photo credit Dr Stanley Ducharme

The aftershocks continue to be sizable.  For instance there was a 5.2 on the Richter scale at 10pm last night.  You can imagine the fear such violent shaking instills in these patients who have suffered spinal cord injuries as a result of either earthquake.  It’s one of the reasons why Dr Stanley Ducharme from Boston University worked with the SIRC nursing, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and social services staff, training them to provide targeted psychological counselling to the those affected by the earthquakes.  Dr Ducharme ran a seminar and also small group sessions with the various teams while there, all on a volunteer basis – awesome!  Fortunately, psychological counselling forms part of the current multi-disciplinary approach to spinal cord injury rehabilitation that SIRC already provides, so Dr Ducharme’s training provided the staff with additional tools to better work with patients injured in disaster situations.

Dr Stanley Ducharme, a Psychologist from Boston University delivering a seminar Trauma and Spinal Cord Injury at SIRC.

Dr Stanley Ducharme, a Psychologist from Boston University delivering a seminar Trauma and Spinal Cord Injury at SIRC.  Photo credit SIRC.

And a few more photos of SIRC.

This is usually open space at the Nurse's station however, in order to keep up with demand every free space needs to be used.  Photo credit Dr Stanley Ducharme

This is usually open space at the Nurse’s station however, in order to keep up with demand every free space needs to be used. Photo credit Direct Relief.

And some place I have never shown you but where a lot of important work goes on – the wheelchair workshop.  This is where wheelchairs are fitted to each patient, and also repaired or adjusted based on needs.

Wheelchair workshop and SIRC

Wheelchair workshop and SIRC.  Photo credit Direct Relief

SIRC continues to work on securing long-term funding for it’s patients, but in the meantime, there have been a few donations of food, medical supplies and equipment this week, from a variety of donors.

First up is a visit from Direct Relief’s Emergency Response Director Gordon Willcock to SIRC.  Direct Relief is a partner to Livability International.  Direct Relief have confirmed a first consignment (of many) of medical supplies and equipment.  Really grateful!

Emergency Response Director Gordon Willcock from Direct Relief has confirmed a first consignment of medical supplies and equipment.

Left to right:  Stephen Muldoon Livability International, Gordon Willcock Direct Relief, Esha Thapa SIRC and Fiona Stephenson SIRC Volunteer Coordinator.  Photo credit Direct Relief.

Ms. Anu Thapa, an ex-patient of SIRC herself, knows exactly what these newly inured SCI patients are going through.  She generously donated food and medical supplies for the earthquake survivors with spinal cord injury at SIRC.

SIRC's Administration Director Dipesh Pradhan handing over the Thank you certificate to Ms. Anu Thapa.

SIRC’s Administration Director Dipesh Pradhan handing over the Thank you certificate to Ms. Anu Thapa.

My sister Sinead living in Newcastle, England ran a fundraiser for SIRC on June 12 with the help of her friends Rob Savage and Louise Lennox.  It was “A night of music, laughs and fun to raise some much-needed money for the people of Nepal and in particular those affected by spinal injuries at the Spinal Injuries Rehabilitation Centre (SIRC).”  Clearly it was a big success as £698 was raised with more to come in.  Well done team!  A big Dhanybad to you from SIRC!

It’s interesting there were no photos of the night in question, it’s likely a really really good time was had by all.

Thanks to Maggie and Glenda at Livability International for facilitating the mobile-donation tool through Big Gives.

About Kate Coffey

After 30 or so years in the investment management industry, 2013 saw me turn my life up-side-down, making my way first to Nepal, then Bangladesh during that first ‘year away’. The year took me on a journey I did not expect, had me fall in love with Nepal and its people, and become inspired at the work of Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre (SIRC) located in Bhainsepati - 2 hours east of Kathmandu in the Saanga foothills. Since 2014, I have returned to SIRC numerous times, working closely with the folks there in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquakes. In the past two years, my work in Nepal has expanded to the Bo M. Karlsson Foundation www.bomkarlsson.com and the Spinal Cord Injured Network Nepal. In Bangladesh I marvelled at the strength and resilience of marginalized women who have the courage and audacity to break the rules and make a better life for themselves and their children through microfinance programs with BRAC. 2016-2017 saw me embark on a totally new experience in Sri Lanka, a place I never would have chosen to end up in. It’s the 40C+ heat, big humidity and tropical snakes & animals that scared me! But I ended up love love loving! my time there, working with predominantly Tamil small business owners in remote villages in the north and east of the country, trying their best to recover their businesses and the lives of their employees, after decades of a civil war. My time in Sri Lanka made me realize my hard-earned business skills and experience can really be put to good use! The work the BIZ+ team and I did there ended up earning me International Volunteer of the Year Award in December 2017, presented on Capitol Hill, Washington DC no less. I am currently home on Bowen Island, in the west coast of Canada, shoring up my finances before I head off to who knows where, for my next expert volunteer assignment. 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 2013-2014. 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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