It all started in April 2002, when Kanak Mani Dixit with his wife Shanta, gathered a group of forward-thinking friends to create a fledging SIRC – a centre that would provide holistic rehabilitation to those affected by spinal cord in jury.
The first of it’s kind in Nepal, it started with just a handful of beds in a few rooms generously donated by the Orthopedic Hospital in Jorpati. A mere six years later and under the strong vision and leadership of Board Members, Esha the Executive Director as well as the core staff, SIRC moved to the lush fields of the Saanga hills, Kavre in November 2008. The custom-built facility was made possible by the generous donations from Mountains to Mountains Foundation, Switzerland and Sir Michael Kadoorie of Hong Kong and officially opened by none other than Sir Edmund Hillary.
With careful guidance from Stephen and Maggie Mudloon of Livability International, the centre has grown from strength to strength, now with the space and expertise to provide services to 150 inpatients at any one time. This growth escalated rapidly following the earthquakes in April/May 2015, when SIRC played a pivotal role in the provision of rehabilitation services to those disabled and injured in the earthquake.
Since then, SIRC has played a key role in raising SCI awareness across Nepal, has extended it’s community outreach and follow-up with ex-patients, and has been responsible for the delivery of SCI-specific training to healthcare workers and first responders across Nepal.
All of this would not have been possible without three groups of people:
1. Commitment of the SIRC staff, who tirelessly advocate and work for the wellness of their patients;
2. A dedicated bunch of volunteers from the world over, who return over and over, freely giving their time and expertise for the benefit of those living with SCI;
3. The generosity of individual donors, small groups of donors from places like Bowen Island, as well as larger funding agencies such as UKAid (DfID), Direct Relief, Johanniter, Save the Children, Medecins Sans Frontieres and Rotary Clubs around the world.
It’s a project that focuses on the provision of targeted training and vocational skills to those living with SCI in Nepal. I love the idea of this project because it takes holistic rehabilitation to the next level. It offers participants the opportunity to improve their livelihoods and afford stability and security for their families. I promise, you will hear more of the VOICE project in a later blog post.
To my mind, a key component that makes SIRC what it is, is the vision and dedication of Drs Peter Wing and Claire Weeks, who through SpiNepal and it’s donors, have not only funded the education of two Nepali doctors in their respective specialties, but have also provided these young doctors with moral support and guidance as they build their careers, and improve the quality of medicine in Nepal.
In December 2016, Dr Prakash Paudel passed his exams to become a Neurosurgeon and is now focusing his efforts in securing a fellowship in spine surgery. Dr Raju Dhakal passed his exams in February 2017 and will be Nepal’s first Physical Medical and Rehabilitation specialist once his dissertation is complete this month. Dr Raju will be returning to Nepal soon after to become SIRC’s first Medical Director.
It sure is a Big Year for for everyone! You can keep up to date on the Doctors’ progress with the SpiNepal blog.
SIRC will be celebrating it’s 15th Anniversary with a number of events which I will try to capture for you here over the coming days.
In the meantime, let’s wish all the people associated with SIRC over the years, a Hearty Congratulations for its 15 years of service to those living with SCI in Nepal.