Bruised but not broken

The need is so great that you could give up before we start.

The €1 million emergency generously given by the Irish government has all been allocated. Irish Aid is also arranging airlifts of emergency relief items such as tents, blankets, and tarpaulins to assist an estimated 12,000 vulnerable people and meet their immediate acute needs.  Over 63 tonnes of Irish stocks are being distributed by aid partners in the Kathmandu-Makwanpur area, focusing on those most severely affected, and those living in temporary settlements or in the open air since their homes were destroyed.

In Nepal people are ranging from being joyful and thankful for being spared, to angry and desperate because no aid has come. At least the tremors have passed, and normal life is beginning to be restored for the fortunate. However many are still facing living in the open with little food or shelter.

Should we despair at the huge need? No, why not? Well just as you are important to your family and friends so too are those suffering in Nepal important. They are worth helping.

Help us to help Nepal, one person at a time, one family at a time and one village at time.

It will cost approximately €50 to help a family with blankets, clothes and food.

If you would like to contribute towards the relief operation that will provide food, tents and medicine please make a donation on our website at: http://nlt.ie/?page_id=423 and state Earthquake relief for Sindhuli district in the comment option.

We have raised over €1,000 in Ireland in the last couple of days, help us to increase that.

The cost of the relief for the Sindhuli region is budgeted at $131,660.

Thanks

Mike Winterburn

NLT Ireland chairman

cropped-Village-Alive1.jpg

 

Earthquake relief for Sindhuli district, Nepal

We have just received news from Nepal that one of the hilly districts that we serve in, Sindhuli, has announced an emergency relief call:

The team has informed us that currently the reported casualties and deaths from Sindhuli district are comparatively few with number of 12 deaths, 100 injured and 6 casualties. However there are 10,420 houses destroyed and 1,638 partially damaged houses in Sindhuli. Diarrhoea disease outbreaks are already occurring.

If you would like to contribute towards the relief operation that will provide food, tents and medicine please make a donation on our website at: http://nlt.ie/?page_id=423 and state Earthquake relief for Sindhuli district in the comment option.

The cost of the relief is budgeted at $131,660.

If you would like more details please contact info@nlt.ie

Many thanks

Mike Winterburn, Chairman NLT Ireland.

Borders: from Kathmandu to Kerry and Beyond

Our inaugural touring art exhibition and fundraising event is now in full swing, with 42 participating national and international artists. Hopefully you can join in the celebrations, meet the artists and view the exciting range or artworks for sale. The three locations are:

– Cill Rialaig, Kerry. Opening on the 3rd May at 12 noon and will run until the 8th May 2015.

–  Laois Arthouse, Stradbally. Opening on 11th June at 1.30pm and will run until 26th June 2015.

– The Kathmandu exhibition took place on the 1st April  2015. Scroll down to see images of the show. For more information contact Vera at info@nlt.ie.

'Containment' by artist Hazel Greene.
‘Containment’ by artist Hazel Greene.
'Umbica and Menica washing dhotis, Karipati' by artist Annabel Potterton.
‘Umbica and Menica washing dhotis, Karipati’ by artist Annabel Potterton.

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Emily (on Left) our wonderful documentary photographer for the 2015 Nepal trip.
Emily (left) our wonderful documentary photographer for the 2015 Nepal trip. © NLT Ireland

Scoil Mochua, Readathon 2015

Last week we were  invited to Scoil Mochua, Celbridge to receive a cheque on behalf of Nepal Leprosy Trust (NLT) Ireland. This donation was sponsorship money collected by the primary school children as part of the Readathon 2015.

A great surprise on the day was the class adaptions of their favourite books eg., Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, George’s Marvellous Medicine, Harry Potter, Winnie the Witch to mention a few.

The Readathon Assembly on the day was compèred by two wonderful children,  Rebecca and Dennis.

Scoil Mochua, Celbridge Readathon 2015.
Scoil Mochua, Celbridge Readathon 2015.
3rd and 4th class Readathon Assembly 2015, Scoil Mochua, Celbridge.
3rd and 4th class Readathon Assembly 2015, Scoil Mochua, Celbridge. Photos; Vera © NLT Ireland

Mother and Baby

With the birth of two wonderful little girls in my extended family this week in Ireland I am reminded of the mother and baby ward in Lalgadh Leprosy Hospital in southern Nepal.

It's a boy, 3kg photo by Yvonne Simmonds.
It’s a boy, 3kg. Photo by Yvonne Simmonds © NLT UK

This last week in February there have been 3 births in Lalgadh, two girls and a boy. All going well the mothers will return home with their newborn baby about 5 or 6 hours after birth. The normal birth figures in the hospital are an average of two a month.

This low figure is due to three things:

1. the specialised ward is a new facility within the hospital compound

2. most mothers have their babies at home and continue with normal daily life

3. the hospital is situated in rural Nepal and travelling long distance, at short notice, usually on foot is not ideal during labour.

This trend is slowly changing as a result of the Village Alive Program which includes training of Rural Health Champions (RHC).

The RHC’s are women working on a voluntary basis and have been selected by their respective villages. These women take part in efforts to control diarrhea, vomiting, malnutrition, malaria, and tuberculosis and referral advice when required. Most of them were illiterate, but now function as health volunteers, measuring blood pressure and performing examinations, including examination of pregnant women. They are also able to recognise danger signs and advise to move pregnant women to hospital if necessary.

Limerick and Lalgadh Public Health Partnership

Dr Anne Dee will be returning to Lalgadh, Nepal in March after a break of twenty years. She has obtained funding under the ESTHER* alliance  which is a European organisation which encourages partnership between developed and developing world healthcare facilities.

Under this scheme, the Department of Public Health in Limerick has been funded to set up a partnership with Lalgadh Leprosy Hospital (NLT’s leprosy centre in south-eastern Nepal) . She will travel with the Director of Public Health in Limerick, Dr Mai Mannix, and will spend time in LLSC meeting the workers there, viewing the projects and agreeing the scope of this proposed partnership.

Dr Krishna Lama and Dambar Aley from Lalgadh Hospital will make a return visit to Ireland in May in order to finalise the partnership agreement.

Dr Anne Dee, Specialist in Public Health Medicine, Department of Public Health in Limerick.

ESTHER - Together for a Networked Hospital Therapeutic Solidarity.
ESTHER – Together for a Networked Hospital Therapeutic Solidarity.

Meeting Sarita

When I visited Lalgadh Leprosy Hospital for Easter 2014 I was blessed to meet some beautiful people. I know I have made friends for life as a result of my time spend there. One of the ladies I met was Sarita, she was part of the outreach team who travelled with us to the remote villages. On these trips she preformed many tasks, one of which was introducing us to the villagers, helping to translate and share their stories.

I also spent time with her in the small jewellery making workshop which she manages. She provides training and support for people in a similar situation to her own. Sarita, seen here on the left,  is a very warm, confident and outgoing person but this was not always the case.

workshop loRes
Photo: Vera © NLT Ireland 2014

Demolishing stigma

Stigma – A mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person.

Oxford dictionary

“It all began with a small patch on my skin that didn’t feel anything, but now I feel tingling in my toes and feet.”

Leprosy is caused by bacteria, mycobacterium leprae, affecting the nerves in the skin, face, hands and feet.

“As time went by my hands and feet would get injured. I feel no hurt.”

Leprosy can permanently damage the nerves so that they feel no pain, hot or cold, just like an anaesthetic.

“Cuts get infected, and ulcers develop. I feel no discomfort.”

The patient feels no pain, injuries are not rested and may get infected badly.

“My family don’t like the disease, they hide me, and make me live alone. I feel loss.”

Stigma can begin between husband and wife, parents and children.

“My children are discouraged from going to school. I feel shame.”

The wider community can affect the families of leprosy sufferers.

“We cannot go to the well with everyone else, our neighbours shout at us. I feel anger.”

Fear and misunderstanding in the community can lead to separation.

Lalbusty Tulashi – at the top of the hill – this is the only water point and  pump in the village.
Lalbusty Tulashi – at the top of the hill – this is the only water point and pump in the village. Photo; Vera © NLT Ireland 2015

“I’ve lost my job, as my boss does not want me around. I feel hunger.”

Economic loss can cause the family great hardship.

“I went to the hospital at Lalgadh Leprosy Hospital, the doctor tells me I have leprosy. I feel despair.”

The actual diagnosis can be the most painful part, for patient, family and community.

“The nurses take care of my wounds and ulcers and give me medicine. I feel compassion.”

The secondary effect of having damaged nerves is infections, this is what most people see as leprosy, the leprosy bacteria is treated by antibiotics.

“I sleep in a hospital bed and have a full meal. I feel safe.”

Often patients may be malnourished and need to be admitted as in-patients.

“The hospital staff hold my dry hands in theirs and make me laugh. I don’t feel untouchable.”

Stigma begins in the heart, and we overcome it by the way we live, by the example we show.

“I am much better now, so I can go home, I meet other leprosy patients in my area. I feel a new community beginning.”

Leprosy patients form self-help groups (SHG), to look out for each other. Men and women, young and old, Muslims, Christians and Hindus of different castes all sit together and share their struggles, offer advice, laugh and cry, touch and comfort each other, building self-esteem and confidence.

“In the SHG we can start to learn again, to read and write, to understand health issues. I feel I am growing.”

Self-help groups receive support from Lalgadh Hospital with adult and health education.

“The SHG begins a monthly savings scheme. I feel hope.”

Self-help groups receive seed capital from Lalgadh Hospital and encourage leprosy patients to budget and save.

“I start a small business and earn money to support my family. I feel pride.”

The savings scheme can lend money to its members to start an enterprise to break the downward cycle of poverty.

Monthly savings scheme helps me to start a small fruit and veg market.
Monthly savings scheme helps me to start a small fruit and veg market.

“My children respect me again, and my spouse welcomes me in the home. I feel love.”

The family often adapts and heals remarkably easily.

“My children can return to school. I feel they have a future.”

Public health education, through street drama or discussion provided by LLSC can help bring down barriers in the community.

“The SHG invites Lalgadh Hospital to start a Village Alive Programme in our village. I feel I am becoming a leader.”

The Village Alive Programme is an intensive three year health, education and development programme, that the self-help group initiates with the support of Lalgadh Hospital and agreement of the local community.

“Our village is doing well, the community looks to me to help and guide them. I feel no disgrace.”

Mr Mohad Aniul.
Mr Mohad Aniul. © NLT

Demolishing stigma by Nepal Leprosy Trust.

All the above quotes are drawn from leprosy affected people in Nepal and this story highlights a common journey of recovery for them as enabled by NLT.

Village alive

Drinking clean water, washing your hands, seeking treatment for infections: such things may be second nature in Ireland. But for many villagers in rural Nepal, a lack of education hinders their knowledge and ability to live healthy and ward off preventable diseases.

Thanks to a 3-year grant from Irish Aid and effect:hope The Leprosy Mission Canada, Nepal Leprosy Trust Ireland is now supporting some of the very poorest in Nepal to live more productive lives in a project called Village Alive Programme  or VAP.

NLT has organised groups in two Dalit villages (a group of people traditionally regarded as untouchable) to effect and promote health improvements. After training and support from NLT staff, a volunteer in each village qualifies as a Rural Health Facilitator, who helps the groups to identify major health problems and tackle them through health education: the use of clean water, and improved sanitation.

village water pump
Photo: Vera © NLT Ireland 2014

The project also includes a micro-finance element, which encourages men and women to develop their own small businesses.

Measurements will be taken to gauge the success of the project, and it is hoped that the long term incidence of Leprosy will reduce as a result of improvements in the standard of living.