Visiting Ram

The following is a combination of two posts from Dr Stan Ducharme, and with his and Ram’s kind permission, I am reproducing it here.

Dr Stan worked directly with Ram in the aftermath of last year’s earthquakes at SIRC, and on Dr Stan’s current visit to SIRC and Nepal, Dr Stan was keen to accompany Prajwal (the senior community-based rehab specialist) on a visit to Ram’s home in Dolalghat, Kavre and see how he was doing some 17 months later.

Dr Stan says “A home visit is a community event. Half the village turns out to welcome you and to check out these strangers from another country.”

Dr Stan with village kids. Photo credit Dr Stan Ducharme.

Dr Stan with village kids. Photo credit Dr Stan Ducharme.

Ram’s story is a reminder of the great work SIRC does, in providing multi-disciplinary rehabilitation to those with spinal cord injuries here in Nepal.  In addition to the medical & nursing care, physio, occupational therapy, provision of wheelchair and other assistive devices as needed, one thing that differentiates SIRC’s care is the counselling provided by staff psychologists and peer counselors – those who have previously sustained an SCI and who can provide practical support to the patients … afterall, they have been through the trauma of an SCI themselves.

Patients do extra well when, combined with what SIRC provides them, the patients themselves have the inner-strength and determination to live a wholesome and full life.  This is one such story.

Visiting Ram

Posted with both the permission of Ra and Dr Stan Ducharme Ph.D, September 15, 2016.

“I first met Ram in June 2015. He had suffered a spinal cord injury at the L2 level during the earthquake of April 25, 2015 when his house collapsed on top of him. Sadly, his grandmother died in the devastation.

Dr Stan with Ram. Photo credit Dr Stan Ducharme.

Dr Stan with Ram. Photo credit Dr Stan Ducharme.

Ram is a 27 year old married man. His wife was 4 months pregnant at the time of his injury. Prior to injury, he was the sole support of his family and took great pride in his ability to care for his wife. Like all expectant parents, they were thrilled to be having their first baby. However, that excitement abruptly ended during the night of April 25th.

Ram and his wife at the entrance of their replacement home

Ram and his wife at the entrance of their replacement home.  Photo credit:  Dr Stan Ducharme

During rehabilitation, Ram attended our group and individual counseling sessions. He worked tirelessly in physical therapy and pushed himself to the limits while encouraging other patients to do their best. His goal was to return to his village as soon as possible in order to be the father that he had wanted to be for so long.

Sure, Ram received some of the best rehabilitation in this part of the world. But it was his enduring spirit, desire to fulfill the traditional male role in the family and refusal to admit defeat that allowed him to overcome overwhelming odds. He persevered with a focus and a mission.

Photo credit: Dr Stan Ducharme

Photo credit: Dr Stan Ducharme

Today, you will find Ram running his own roadside business selling corn to his neighbors in this remote mountain village. You would also see him playing with his son, both with a smile, and encouraging his son not to fear the wheelchair.

What is perhaps most inspiring of Ram is that each morning and evening you would find him next to his new home working out on his parallel bars. You see, Ram does not give up nor does he accept less than his best. He has built parallel bars from local branches and twigs along the side of his home. For him, rehabilitation has not ended.

Ram on his parallel bars. Photo credit: Dr Stan Ducharme

Ram on his parallel bars. Photo credit: Dr Stan Ducharme

Ram, thank you for letting us into your life yesterday. You inspire us every day to do the work that we do. Enjoy your family, your son and the fruits of your independence that you have worked so hard to achieve.”

Dr Stan is currently on a short trip to SIRC and in  addition to making this home visit, he is also upskilling the Peer Counselors with some additional training.    As you can see, he is rather pleased to be working with this group!

A day of peer counselor training with Dr Stan and SIRC's nine peer counselors. Photo credit Dr Stan Ducharme

A day of peer counselor training with Dr Stan and SIRC’s nine peer counselors. Photo credit Dr Stan Ducharme

Dr Stan’s words:  “These 9 people with spinal cord injury will help newer SCI patients and families through their own example, positive lifestyle and their ability to support people during difficult emotional times. This level of communication about emotions is generally unheard of here. Not anymore; at least not at SIRC. Go you guys. Proud to work with you.”

I think that says it all, don’t you?

About Dr Stanley Ducharme Ph.D.  Dr Stan hails from Boston and is a clinical psychologist and consultant specializing in the areas of sexual dysfunction, gender, physical disability, addictions, relationship issues and concerns of daily living. With over 25 years of clinical experience, Dr. Ducharme has worked with a wide variety of problems and has gained national and international recognition for the scope and quality of his work.  He has worked with SIRC for many years, providing psychology-based counselling training to SIRC’s staff psychologists and peer counselors.  His website:

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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4 Responses to Visiting Ram

  1. Patrica Butchart says:

    Thank you. What am I sporting young man and amazing Doctor. Thank God for people like this in the world. You have met some wonderful people and are having an amazing g time on your journeys Thanks for sharing. I love your stories. Blessings Pat

    Patrica Butchart Sales Representative REMAX Hallmark Realty Group 1-613-301-0703 To unsubscribe at anytime, please reply with the word ‘unsubscribe’


    • Kate Coffey says:

      You are right Pat, Dr Stan is just a fantastic guy and so many of the SIRC patients just inspire me with their determination and love of life. I am fortunate indeed to know such people.

  2. Patrica Butchart says:

    Hi Kate I meant to say “inspiring” young man. Don’t you just love spell check!!!! Have a great day. Pat

    Patrica Butchart Sales Representative REMAX Hallmark Realty Group 1-613-301-0703 To unsubscribe at anytime, please reply with the word ‘unsubscribe’


  3. Mick Canning says:

    Yes, Ram is an amazing fellow. Brilliant!

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