The Wild Medic Project is pleased to bring you a short story from expeditioner Robbie King about the journey he recently undertook. The experience not only had lasting effects for Robbie professionally and personally, but Robbie’s own personal fundraising mission has had a profound effect in the village, Chitre. It is an inspirational journey and we are grateful for his generous contributions. Here is his story.
Usually when an opportunity arises I procrastinate for a while and eventually say, “Bugger it! I’m in for the ride!”
In July this year I received a phone call from Mick Stuth, co-founder of The Wild Medic Project. Mick was one of the first people I’d met during my initial training as a paramedic, a very enthusiastic and compassionate character. He was returning a call I’d made inquiring about the project’s inaugural expedition to Nepal.
The basics of the call were that he was planning to lead a team of five to a region heavily affected by the devastating earthquake in April this year. It would be to provide basic healthcare and assist in rebuilding a health centre in a rural region. We’d need to trek in, we’d be unsure of what we may find, it would be very basic, and it would be likely that we’d need to figure things out as we went.
Would I be interested?
This time there was no procrastination. There was, however, just the small problem of asking my wife to cut short an already arranged holiday in New Zealand.
We were heading to Queenstown, myself to do a marathon and my very understanding wife, the 10km. Opportunity knocked again. I was funding myself entirely for the Nepal expedition so why not use the run to try and raise whatever funds I could in order to purchase hygiene packs for the villagers?
After a brief campaign I rapidly appreciated that I have some bloody good friends who are also very generous people. Even a Yorkshireman I know managed to stretch his very short arms into his even deeper pockets. If you’re not aware, Yorkshire folk are like the Scottish, except they have all the ‘generosity’ beaten out of them.
Before long, donations came from as far as England to make a total of AUD$1,400. It far outweighed what I expected to raise and I am eternally grateful to those who contributed. The best thing about this money was that every cent would be spent contributing to the local population and economy, nothing was lost to advertising, or executive fees.
Training for the marathon was certainly made easier knowing people had contributed. When I added up my total training distance I’d run approximately 840 km, about the length of Nepal, and accumulated over 10,500m in ascent, higher above sea level than Mount Everest.
Once we arrived in Nepal we liaised with Jeevan and Bishnu, co-founders of Mother and Children’s Art Foundation, our sister charity in Nepal. After consultation with the committee overseeing the health centre, it was decided hygiene packs were not required as another charity had recently distributed similar items. After several discussions, the committee felt that they required furniture for the health centre which could also be used at the temporary site.
This included lockable cabinets for drugs and equipment, an electric steriliser for equipment and gauze for wound care, a treatment bed and mattress, 20 chairs for patients awaiting assessment and for training sessions, and additional prescription medications. While Bishnu and Jeevan kindly donated their time purchasing and delivering the equipment, there were also transport costs associated with getting all the equipment from Kathmandu to Chitre – a six hour journey only capable in a 4WD.
Having gained experience from the first expedition, the project is gaining momentum. Healthcare will continue with each expedition, we are actively educating local health volunteers in first aid, and there are plans to assist with vision problems as well as assistance for people to access transport to further care.
These donations have greatly enhanced development of the health centre and steps towards the villagers of Chitre regaining self-sufficiency. The free health clinics, assistance with clearing rubble, and the provision of much-needed equipment, all provide tangible evidence to the local community that their own efforts to rebuild are being supported.
On behalf of the health committee and all the villagers of Chitre, Thank you.
Any medics out there who feel they have been searching for a similar journey as Robbie please see our volunteer page.
“A good motivation is what is needed: compassion without dogmatism, without complicated philosophy; just understanding that others are human brothers and sisters and respecting their human rights and dignities. That we humans can help each other is one of our unique human capacities. ” Tenzin Gyatso, Dalai Lama XIV.