Well-deserved recognition for Kshetra

The World Health Organization gives some well-deserved recognition to Kshetra Gurung of SIRC.  Kshetra has been with SIRC since it first opened it’s doors in 2002, and is currently one of SIRC’s wheelchair technicians – customizing wheelchairs to each patient and the environmental conditions with which they are faced with, when they return home.  A seriously important part of the support and care given to each SCI patient at SIRC.

Congrats to Kshetra for receiving such well deserved recognition from WHO.

Kshetra adjusting a brace to uniquely fit one of the patients at SIRC.

Kshetra adjusting a brace to uniquely fit one of the patients at SIRC.  Photo credit:  WHO

Extract of WHO’s article:

“Kshetra Gurung is a workshop technician at Nepal’s Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre (SIRC), a dedicated spinal care facility just outside the Kathmandu valley.

The former occupational therapy assistant, who has worked at the centre since it first opened in 2002, has spent the past two year’s custom-fitting wheelchairs for the facility’s patients.

After Nepal’s 25 April and 12 May earthquakes, Gurung’s workload has increased significantly: SIRC, a project of Spinal Injury Sangha Nepal, scaled up its bed capacity from 51 to 200, and is still accepting referrals from across the country.

Thankfully, Gurung has the technical expertise to cope with this fourfold increase.

“I did basic and intermediate training for wheelchair assembly given by WHO in Pokhara last year and three months of basic prosthetics and orthodics training in Thailand,” he said. “We assemble our wheelchairs according to the WHO guidelines on the provision of manual wheelchairs in less-resourced settings.”

For Gurung, whose workshop is plastered with detailed diagrams of wheelchair design and assembly, the job is, however, greater than simply constructing the machines.

“When we provide a patient with a wheelchair we teach them basic and advanced wheelchair skills – how to use a wheelchair and how to take care of them. We also have a wheelchair follow up program once a year. If they have a problem with their wheelchair they call us and we fix it,” he said.

According to Damodar Adhikari, WHO Nepal’s disability and rehabilitation focal point, this kind of long-term engagement is a critical aspect of meeting post-disaster health care needs.

“After any disaster these services are crucial. If they are not provided, the quality of life for the injured is greatly impacted. In Nepal, we are working closely with the Ministry of Health and Population to ensure that these services are prioritized,” he said.

With facilities such as SIRC, and technicians like Gurung, Nepal’s earthquake-injured are being given the best opportunity to recover and lead mobile lives. Long after the emergency ends, the health care needs of Nepal’s citizens are being secured.”

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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