James and Esta Smith
A twenty three-year-old Nepali has dedicated his life to providing healthcare to the inhabitants of Phapre, a remote village nestled in the Everest region of Nepal. The ethnic majority of this village is Sherpa. People of Tibetan descent, the Sherpa are hardy, their ancestors known for crossing over the Himalayan Mountains.
Foreign aid and development experts have accurately described the mountainous area of Nepal as one of the most remote and underdeveloped in the country. Government statistics attesting to this fact are unavailable, but a survey conducted by FVS determined that 10,000 + inhabitants live without access to even the most basic healthcare facilities. In an area where roads, power lines, telephones, and running water are non-existent, trained healthcare professionals are hard to come by.
Nepali Health Post Project, along with neighborhood citizens, determined that the only solution to solve this problem would be to train a qualified native to provide health care for his/her community. Needing to find a person with a basic education, a recommendation to qualify for the Basic Community Health Course offered in Kathmandu, and an eagerness to help their community, Mingmar was the perfect choice.
James interviewing villagers about the need for medical facilities.
Mingmar Sherpa, a Nepali native, had just completed his SLC exams (given in 10th grade) and was bright and eager to learn. Like most of his peers, Mingmar was a farmer by trade. In his spare time he worked to teach the younger generations of his village.
Mingmar accepted the offer immediately.
Moving to Kathmandu was a big change for Mingmar. Having never visited a big city like Kathmandu, he moved in with an older brother and began working part-time in a local restaurant to earn money. The restaurant owner was affiliated with the Nepal Health Post Project volunteers and was happy to help.
Mingmar's tuition fees, textbook costs and school supplies were paid by the project. After a rocky start, Mingmar's grades improved and he settled into his new routine. With over 10,000 people in need of his help, he was compelled to work even harder. On his own initiative he enrolled in an additional medical course at the same time, to further his training.
When graduation arrived, Mingmar had not only obtained his Village Community Health Worker Certification, but also graduated second in his class. He is now able to diagnose, treat and dispense medicine for the most prevalent village illnesses, plus administer first aid to common accidents -- in short, provide a desperately needed health service to his community.
Nepali mother and child in one of the villages we visited.
Mingmar has now returned to Phapre Village with an initial supply of medicine and other basic medical/first aid stock, all provided by the Nepal Project. He keeps meticulous records of all patients he cares for, including recording their ailments and the treatment given, to enable workers to see predominating trends and what medicine is most frequently given. These records enable project workers to determine the amount of medicine needed to be supplied bi-monthly. The medicine is frequently donated by local sponsors from Kathmandu.
Mingmar is the pride of his community, and his new life has benefited thousands. To help Mingmar succeed, funding was given from project worker's own pockets. Mingmar worked out of a spare room in a participating villager's home.
With the need for two more community workers, including another Community Health Worker and a mid-wife, a small Health Post became necessary. The training of workers and the costs associated with building a Health Post proved too much for local workers to provide. The Nepal Health Post Project was started when the need was brought to the attention of Family Care Foundation.
James and Esta Smith are former Project Managers of Family Volunteer Services Nepal, a Family Care Foundation Project in Kathmandu, Nepal.