Dear Friends and supporters
In Nepal the number of people infected with the Corona virus is still rising. The district we work in,Humla, is at the lower end of infections but at high risk due to the more heavily infected districts to the south and bordering India. We are working very hard with our local partner SHIP and the local District Health Officer to keep on top of the situation and curb its spread.
SHIP is distributing PPE and medicines to 8 district medical centres to keep Humla one of the safest districts but we are continually aware of the risks from adjoining districts and returning migrant workers desperate to get back to their home villages. We work closely with local government to ensure all restrictions and protocols are observed. Humla is a very remote district and economically one of the poorest; food deficient and access is difficult. The virus is not what they need on top of everything else they struggle with.
One of the factors that has helped to keep infection rates low in Humla is the result of our child health education programme Little Doctors which has improved overall health standards. There has been a very noticeable decrease in the incidence of stomach and respiritory health disorders. Little Doctors has been running for about 20 years and its students have taken their new knowledge back to their families.
Earlier this year one of our Belgium corporate partners, CÎME, who source herbal ingredients from the Himalayas for their cosmetic products, made a visit to Humla to see for themselves the impact that Little Doctors is making on life in the Hidden Himalayas. Following is a report made by CÎME founders Anke de Boeck and Isabel Coppens after their visit.
Humla is situated in the northern part of Nepal, close to the border with Tibet, that makes the trip towards it sort of exciting. We arrived at the Simikot airport in a tiny airplane. The airport resides at an elevation of 2,800m above sea level. And the runway is not very long to say the least. Result: you can still see two crashed airplanes next to the runway (fortunately there were no victims!).
But we don’t complain, because the best alternative to get there is to walk 8 days by foot through the mountains starting at the closest road. The remote location of Humla is a key decision why we as CÎME wanted to support a school project here. Humla is thought to be one of the poorest regions in the world. The people here are dependent on the import of rice to survive the freezing winters, the average life expectancy is about 58 years and an estimated 1 out of 3 children dies before their 12th birthday.
One of the key solutions to this problem is to invest in the education of the local population. That is exactly what the NGO Nepal Trust does with the ‘Little Doctors’ schooling project. In the framework of this project, school children in Humla between the age of 11 and 16-year-old are being taught on aspects such as hygiene, health, aid and nutrition. The young teens are being educated to be ‘Little Doctors’ that pass on their learned knowledge to family, friends and members of the community. For every CÎME product that goes over the counter, a part of the proceedings goes to the training of ‘Little Doctors’. The ‘Little Doctors’ projects seems to be big fun! The Little Doctors as well as the teachers seem to be very enthusiastic about the program and how much impact it has on their daily life.
Student Sarita: “First, we received one month of theoretical classes and afterwards the practical lessons. Those are the most fun. Then we can assist in the Health Post (The Nepal Trust in Humla has built 7 healthcare facilities, where people can get first aid and healthcare). We are allowed to heal burned marks and dog bites and we also help with vaccination.”
Student Prakriti: “We all receive a first aid kit, with basic tools such as scissors, disinfectant, bandage and diarrhea medication. We are allowed to take this home with us, but we can also use these at school. We are called in when one of the other students gets hurt on the playground to take care of them.”
If we ask the students what they want to become when they grow up, the most popular answer is a doctor or a nurse. This does not come falling from the sky. Part of the staff in the only hospital of Humla has followed the Little Doctors project when they were young. However not all students want to become doctors.
Student Tejendra: “I don’t want to become a doctor. I want to become a farmer and stay in this area.”
Jaya Bam, teacher in English and Vice-president of the school in Simikot: “For students like Tejendra, the Little Doctors program is also interesting. That’s what makes the project so beautiful. The information that they learn has the potential to improve the life circumstances of the students and their respective families because they learn practical information that is of important value for their state of health.”
We were very impressed by the work the Nepal Trust has done in this remote region and are proud to be able to contribute to this beautiful project.
The Nepal Trust hopes that providing health education to children and others in the local communities will improve life chances and build a healthy resilience in this hard and unremitting part of the world.
The Trust would like to thank you for all your support and help for this project but, as you can see, it is not easy now that Covid-19 has moved in! We will still need help and support to get us through these difficult times and to keep on track our objective to fully handover an effective and fully working health system. Please pass on our latest news to your friends and colleagues and encourage them to support us.
Thank you and Namaste
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