SIRC is 15 years old

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.

Aerial view via drone of the extended SIRC facility March 2016. Photo credit Narayan Shrestha

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;

Some of the SIRC staff celebrating Wheelchair Day in Kathmandu, March 1 2017. Photo credit SIRC

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;

Many of the Volunteers who not only supported SIRC in the aftermath of the earthquakes. but who have been avid supporters for many years. Photo credit Fiona Stephenson

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.

One current project that thrills me is the VOICE project – a joint partnership between SIRC, the Korea Spinal Cord Injury Association (KSCIA) and Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).

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.

The VOICE team pictured at a recent project management training session. Photo credit WooSuk Jung, KSCIA

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.

Drs Peter & Claire with Dr Prakash (l) and Dr Raju (r). Photo credit Dr Peter Wing

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.

Jai Spinal!

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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One Response to SIRC is 15 years old

  1. Lekhnath says:

    Worth reading!!! Nice explanation of historical and current activities of SIRC and its development. Thank you Kate.

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