Bowen Island’s generosity put to work

Although it’s been a few months since I handed over the proceeds from January 2016’s fundraiser at the Gallery on Bowen Island, SIRC has now identified two patients who will benefit from the monies raised.

This will give you an idea of what an enormous impact every dollar you donated, has made to the lives of these two young people.  The following are their stories.

Prabin’s story

Prabin is a young 8-year-old boy, who was playing with friends in the garden, shining up trees as kids are wont to do.  A fall from a tree mid July resulted in a T6 fracture (complete) to his spine, which has left him a paraplegic with little or no voluntary motor or conscious sensory function below the lower back area.  His parents are daily wage workers which means little financial security for the family of four who live close to the border with India in the Rupandehi district.

Prabin with his parents soon after arrival (permission granted). Photo credit SIRC

Prabin with his parents soon after arrival (permission granted). Photo credit SIRC

Prabin arrived to SIRC mid August and was admitted immediately despite the family not having any resources to pay for his rehabilitation.  This is the kind of thing SIRC does in such circumstances, they figure out payment later.  Prabin arrived with no bladder or bowel sensation, unable to move his lower limbs and a nasty pressure sore, as well as a broken wrist.

Over the next four months, SIRC will provide him with the medical care he needs to clear up the pressure sore and manage his pain, as well as providing him with physiotherapy, occupational therapy, psycho-social counselling, wheelchair skills etc, as well train his mother on how best to care for him over the coming years once they return home.

It’s fortunate Prabin’s home is located in the flatlands of the Terai, so there won’t be issues for him to navigate mountainous trails in his wheelchair.  By the end of his stay at SIRC, it is expected Prabin will have the wheelchair skills he needs to get around his village, return to school and be as independent as possible in his future life.   Godspeed.

Uma’s Story

For those of you who have trekked in Nepal, you’ll be familiar with a place called Jiri – gateway to the Khumbu Valley that is home to Everest and other high mountains.  If flights to Lukla are impossible, most climbers travel by jeep to Jiri and then begin the few weeks walk into Everest base camp.  Uma is a young 13-year-old girl from Dolokha, in the same region as Jiri, and one of the worst affected districts as a result of last year’s earthquakes.

Uma was collecting fodder for the water buffalo the family own and fell out of the tree, causing a C5 and C6 fracture of the spine (compete).  Believe it or not, falling out of trees whilst collecting fodder for cattle is one of the top reasons for SCIs in Nepal, followed closely by road traffic accidents.

This kind of injury will not be kind to Uma, as it will leave her paralyzed from the chest down, with weakened breathing and difficulty getting around in a manual wheelchair (power chairs are unheard of in Nepal).  She will also struggle to feed and care for herself given her limited mobility in her hands and arms.  There is a long road ahead for Uma.

Uma with her elder sister at SIRC, soon after she was admitted towards the end of August. Photo credit SIRC (permission granted).

Uma with her elder sister at SIRC, soon after she was admitted towards the end of August. Photo credit SIRC (permission granted).

As for Prabin, Uma’s parents are also daily wage workers with limited finances to feed and house this family of seven.  Uma’s elder sister is currently with her at SIRC, caring for Uma’s non-medical needs, as well as learning how to be her long-term carer once they return home.

The aim over the coming months for Uma, is to make her as independent as possible by being able to feed herself without assistance, basic grooming and get her as mobile as possible in her wheelchair.  All this can be achieved through the comprehensive rehabilitation and therapy that SIRC has to offer.  Because Dolakha is located in a mountainous region, her ability to get around will be challenged, although the hope is for her to continue her education and return to school.

Both Prabin and Uma thank you – the community of Bowen Island for you generous donations which has allowed these young people to receive the rehabilitation and therapy they need, to regain their independence and live active and fruitful lives within their communities.


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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6 Responses to Bowen Island’s generosity put to work

  1. Mick Canning says:

    I could weep for Uma, especially. She has such a difficult life ahead, even with the fantastic help she is receiving.

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