A few months ago, a ServLife team arrived in Kathmandu carrying thousands of dollars worth of donated drugs and children’s vitamins, and 325 pairs of eyeglasses. Many of you are familiar with the work of ServLife staff members Mark and Jennifer Storm, in Nepal. Jennifer’s sister, Amanda C. Floyd, MD, a Neurological Resident at Emory, together with her parents Ben and June, joined together with ServLife Nepal to conduct the medical outreach featured in this article. This is Ben’s story of playing a role in cultivating new vision, both physically and spiritually, in Nepal’s Western regions.
“Friday morning we left the Kathmandu Valley and headed west. There was a driver and assistant (Conductor) that handled the micro-bus, a vehicle about the size of an old VW van. The luggage and supplies were piled on top. Inside, the three of us from the US, the three Storms, a Nepali doctor, a Nepali Nurse, two translators, and a cook, along with one of the driver’s brothers, squeezed into seats.
We had arrived in Nepal to visit family and to provide support to the local people by way of a medical outreach. The mission was to Western Nepal where the elevation is only 400 feet, 28,500 feet lower than that little hill (Mt. Everest) on their border with China.
It was a 5 or 6 hour trip to the compound where we would sleep, located in the Nawalparasi district in the village of Rajahar. The large compound (an acre or more) contained a church and classroom space. On the outside wall of the church the hammer/sickle emblem had been painted by some of the local Maoists.
Nepal is no longer a kingdom, but is now a republic. The Maoists are the ruling party, but some 30 other parties participate in the national government. Incidentally, Nepal used to be the only official Hindu state in the world but is now officially secular. Time will tell how it all shakes out for them government-wise. I couldn’t help but notice a Mosque on a small adjoining lot. The back wall of the Mosque was on the line between the two worship houses. The words “Jesus Loves” are scrawled across their wall. (I wonder if the Imam knows this?)
After attending church on Saturday (this is the Nepali weekend), we went to the school and started our clinic. While some covered registration, vital statistics and triage, the doctors in the group diagnosed and treated patients. I was in yet another room to test eyes using a focometer, a 200 pair kit of prescriptive frames and lenses and 125 pair of readers for close up work. The focometer is pretty cool for testing distance vision, it looks similar to a camera lens and the patient (or my translator) would turn a ring on it until it was in focus. The reading was the prescription they needed, from about -8.0 to +8.0. For close up work we had pictures for them to identify to help pick out a reader. Also, in the last room we used, we set up a pharmacy. We really did have a great supply of meds.
That day we shut down at dark as there was no electricity in the school. We had to load everything into the van as we were not comfortable with the security at the building. After arriving back at base camp, we enjoyed a great supper (dal bhat, a delicious Nepali dish) and we bedded for the night. Early the next morning we headed back and started the clinic before 9 am. We were overwhelmed with the number of people that came the second day, the word was out! We learned another nearby building had a light or two, so near dark we relocated the eye clinic there. The others could work with flashlights. We tried to cut off registration as night drew closer, and finally just had to stop. We saw all the patients we could, but there was not enough time for everyone. We did not leave until 9 pm or so.
We returned to base camp (Rajahar), and for the third and fourth days we stayed there. This time the eye clinic was outside under the roof overhang of the church. The pharmacy was inside the church, and the two MDs had small examining rooms. Triage and registration were outside. Again, more people arrived than we could serve. By the end of the fourth day (actually 3.5 days due to church Saturday) I had given out about 250 pairs of glasses. The two MDs saw over 500 patients. The pharmacy was empty except for a few antibiotics. And we were all exhausted.
The translators shared what they could, considering the on-rush of people in need of physical healing. And the pastor and others from the churches “worked the crowds”. Except for the drivers and the cook, who were all Hindu, the team was composed of Christians, focused on sharing Christ in words and works.
It was a blessing to see men using their new glasses to read tracts, some for an hour or more. It was a blessing to see doctors provide the medication to heal ailments before they got worse. It was heart breaking to see all the glaucoma and other blindness afflicting the patients. Such a blessing to know that children in two orphanages will get good nutrition for a year thanks to a generous donation of food supplements. Heartbreaking to see so many lost souls. Good, hard working people eternally lost without the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Pray that they will be touched by what they heard, saw, received and read. Pray that the Spirit will convict them there is one God, one way to Salvation and that they discard their many other gods and accept Christ, not as another god to add to their (often very long) list of gods, but that they accept Him as the one true God.”
Learn more about how you can support the work of ServLife in Nepal. Also, find out more about what ServLife is doing to confront issues of human trafficking and sexual exploitation in Nepal through the Beauty for Ashes project.