ASCoN 2015 – it’s happening!

I have to admire Esha’s dogged determination, it rears its stubborn head on a regular basis.  I can say that about my friend!

Less than four months after Nepal’s devastating earthquakes, Esha Thapa, SIRC’s Executive Director, turned her head to the mammoth task of hosting ASCoN’s 14th Annual Conference in Nepal.  We all thought she was daft with so much already on her plate.  We all felt she would be forgiven if she dodged this assignment but true to form, she set forth to make it happen.  And happening it is.

Updated Flyer_SIRC (Last Final) (2)

You see, Esha and SIRC owes much to her ASCoN colleagues across Asia who without prompting, sent teams of SCI-experienced doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, psychologists, technicians and other SCI professionals to SIRC in the aftermath of the earthquakes earlier this year.  Without their unquestioning support and encouragement, expertise as well as donations of hospital and medical supplies, SIRC would have found it significantly more difficult to cater to the 200+ patients that ended up at the doors of SIRC, seeking SCI care and rehabilitation.

Esha was therefore keen to have her ASCoN colleagues return to Kathmandu and the Saanga Hills and see for themselves the difference their assistance has made to many Nepali lives.  It’s also a good time to discuss injury and rehabilitation management in a disaster context, as many of the ASCoN members face natural disasters such as typhoons, tsunamis, hurricanes etc that are of a similar scale of disaster as Nepal experienced with this years’ earthquakes.

So this year’s ASCoN conference will be a conference with a difference – a reunion of friends and colleagues grateful for the reassurance that they are not alone.

Before I talk of the conference itself, I really do have to mention the Conference Organizing Team who are a dedicated bunch of young Nepali professionals.  The team have done an amazing job at pulling the conference together in such a short timeline.  They are ably coached by Esha Thapa and Maggie Muldoon of Livability International of course, but still – these young professionals are the true stars of this conference.  SIRC is very fortunate to have them on our team.

The hardworking ASCoN team at the SIRC offices. From right: Archana Shah, Nikita Kayastha, Anu Shakya, Simona Bajgai and Suman Hamal. Photo credit Nikita Kayastha

The hardworking ASCoN team at the SIRC offices. From right: Archana Shah, Nikita Kayastha, Anu Shakya, Simona Bajgai and Suman Hamal. Photo credit Nikita Kayastha

As to the conference itself, over 250 delegates will descend on Hyatt Regency Hotel in Kathmandu on December 3rd, 2015 for four days to attend the 14th Annual ASCoN Conference and benefit in the sharing of knowledge and experiences under a general theme of “Living Life to the Full”.  Specific areas to be presented include:

  • Community Based Rehabilitation
  • Operative versus Conservative Management of persons with SCI
  • Urological Management of SCI
  • Psychological Rehabilitation
  • Role of the care givers for persons with SCI
  • Inter – professional/Disability approach for SCI

The venue for the second day of the conference will shift to SIRC where participants will have an opportunity to tour SIRC and to participate in one of the many workshops being organized there throughout the morning.  In the afternoon the Nepal Spinal Cord Injury Sports Association will host a friendly cricket match between two Nepali teams at the cricket field on the Pulchowk Engineering Campus, Lalitpur.  All delegates will be transported from SIRC to the sport venue after lunch to cheer on the teams.

There will also be a post-conference seminar on Injury and Rehabilitation Management in Disasters.  A poignant topic for SIRC given the year that is in it.

In true Nepali style, there has to be an element of fun and laughter, especially with these SIRC folks.  This year the conference will also include a Gala Dinner and cultural exchange programme at the Gokarna Forest Resort – I’ll have to bring my glad rags for that!  Embedded in every ASCoN programme the cultural exchange programme provides the opportunity for participants to learn about other country’s culture as delegates demonstrate aspects of their culture through dance, poetry, music etc. And why not introduce delegates to the deliciousness of Nepali cuisine by hosting a Nepali Thaali Dinner at the renowned Kathmandu Guesthouse in Thamel.  Yum!

Having never attended a medical conference before this, I for one am really looking forward to attending this conference.  Having provided a little background support from Bowen Island, I am looking forward to arriving about two weeks prior, and helping out with the last minute tasks that need my hand.

A little about ASCoN

With the leadership and guidance of the now infamous Stephen and Maggie Muldoon of Livability International, the Asian Spinal Cord Network (ASCoN) was initiated in 2001 following a meeting of regional experts during the International Conference on Spinal Cord Lesion Management hosted by the Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed (CRP), Bangladesh.  You may remember CRP’s vital role in the rehabilitation of the survivors from the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse in Savar, on the outskirts of Dhaka in 2013.

ASCoN has 75 member organisations in 18 countries in Asia including Nepal, Bangladesh, India, China, Thailand, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Vietnam among many others.

Through ASCoN’s work

  • organisations working in the field of spinal cord injury (SCI) management can address similar problems experienced;
  • there are increased opportunities for ASCoN member organisations to learn from each other;
  • good examples of SCI management can be replicated across the region.

ASCoN became an affiliated society of the International Spinal Cord Society (ISCoS) in 2004.

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 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 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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One Response to ASCoN 2015 – it’s happening!

  1. konviktion says:

    Reblogged this on konviktion and commented:
    I wish more programme like this should take place in Nepal. Congratulation!

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