Silvia De Vries, Netherlands
Community Health & Medical Care, 01/11/2014 to 28/11/2014
My name is Silvia de Vries and I am a medical student from the Netherlands. I have been involved in the Public Health Program for 4 weeks.
On sundays and thursdays we assist doctor Laxmi in the health post in Tinpiple. Working with DrLaxmi has been very educative and a lot of fun. He is very patient in explaining and translating everything. Me and my 2 fellow volunteers have gotten to see some really interesting cases. The rest of the week we have provided health talks on mental health in schools in the neighbourhood. 2 previous Dutch volunteers found out that mental diseases and problems are common in the community.
In the classroom we talked about some mental diseases, how to recognize them and we gave some usable tips. We tried to keep the lessons as interactive as possible by doing games, asking for the input of the kids and concluding with a quiz. The quiz was always very popular. Usually we teached grades 5 until 10. For the youngest children the topic was a bit difficult so we tried to focus the lessons on emotions rather than mental health. When English was still a bit too hard for the kids we got the help of some motivated local volunteers, who were of great assistance many times.
I have enjoyed teaching in the community a lot. The schools and children have been very welcoming. All the kids would be very curious and asking for our names and where we were from.
The stay in the host family has also been a really great experience for me. It is so different to experience a new culture together with locals. You get to participate in local customs and get a much better view of how the real people of Nepal live. My host family was really kind and always ready to help if needed or to just drink some tea and share a laugh with.
Additional to the ‘normal’ program we also got the great opportunity to join Dr Laxmi and some local doctors on a health camp to Okhaldhunga, which is a much more remote community than the one we work in normally. The drive there was about 12 hours on a very bumpy road, and on the way back even longer due to some bad luck on our part, but it was absolutely worth it. This weekend was a glimpse into a very rural part of Nepal and the traditional way of living there. The environment was absolutely beautiful, high up in the mountains. We saw around 250 patients in two days, which shows that health camps like these are still very useful. After work we had a lot of fun with the small group of volunteers placed there. It was a really great experience altogether.