With remoteness being a reality for so many Nepalese people living in mountainous communities, access to quality healthcare and sound advice can lead to chronic musculoskeletal issues that ultimately affect their day to day ability to be productive plunging many families further into poverty. The Wild Medic Project began by providing a basic first-line healthcare facility to help “patch up” some of the primary health concerns that had surfaced since the earthquake had struck. Now, two years on we are focusing on a longer term strategy that aims to sustainably empower and educate locals on looking after themselves from a preventative aspect. Enter Isaac – The Wild Medic Project’s very first physiotherapist volunteer. Isaac’s desire to make a big difference in a small pocket of Nepal had it’s challenges. Read on to get an insight into Isaac’s account of his recent experience in Nepal as a Wild Medic.
“Working on the Wild Medic Project was the complete opposite to the structured, systematic and well-resourced environment that I am used to as a physiotherapist… which was exactly why it was such an incredible and worthwhile experience!
Arriving into the chaotic craziness of Kathmandu and being thrown into working with a group of health professionals I’ve never met before, who have as little knowledge of what to expect as I did, is one of the most unnerving, unsettling and intimidating experience I’ve encountered, but also incredibly rewarding. All the pre-departure readings and prep given by the WMP team is useful to a point but we quickly learnt that when you’re on the spot, adaptability is vital as the situation was usually nothing like what we had expected.
The Trekking between villages left us breathless both physically and by the beauty of the backdrop of unbelievably high Himalayas. But the WMP support team were very helpful and by the time we had struggled into camp they had everything set up, our tents pitched and a dinner each night above and beyond what we could expect. The clinics days were manic! We often felt inadequate, underequipped and at times even had to struggle interpreting interpreters. However, we were always able to use the individual skills of the team and the experience of the local doctors and support crew to help each patient as well each other through the day. Teaching young school students basic first aid skills had its trials but was ultimately fulfilling in knowing they would be skills for life which could one day make a big difference.
Working as the first physiotherapist to undertake the WMP presented its own challenges. The first day of clinic was as frenzied and fatiguing as your first days of work as a new graduate. I remember vividly being sent a man to treat his low back pain. Early in the assessment you could realise he had several more serious conditions which a physio could not address but he was just concerned about his back. With the teams help we treated his back pain as well as addressing his other conditions. The same man was at the clinic in the nearby village 3 days later to thank us for improvement in his back pain as it helped him with his fieldwork and he was even showing other locals his exercises. Never have I appreciated the value of simple education, advice and McKenzie exercises more!
If you are looking for something different to get you out of your comfort zone, I cannot recommend the WMP enough. You may feel as though your work has been insignificant and insufficient but will always finish with a sense of satisfaction. You will be left humbled by the local generosity, stunned by the beauty of the country and challenged by the simplicity of village life. It will stretch your clinical reasoning, while teaching you how to adapt and prioritise what really is important to the person you are treating. You will learn the true value of teamwork and reliance on professionals you may have never worked with before and form bonds with people for all walks of life. Remembering all the time that everything you are doing plays just a small part towards meeting the long term goals of the Wild Medic Project.”
If you are a physiotherapist looking to make a big difference in a small, remote and beautiful community of Nepal, click HERE for info on how you can make a difference!