Two Weeks in Kathmandu

Seven Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine students spent winter break volunteering in Nepal and gaining in first-hand medical experience in a foreign environment.

February 01, 2013
TouroCOM medical students outside Sahid Memorial Hospital in Nepal, where they volunteered.
TouroCOM medical students outside Sahid Memorial Hospital in Nepal, where they volunteered.

We dressed wounds, helped with patient exams, administered medications, and even assisted with many orthopedic and general surgeries. Some of us even attended at odd hours of the night to observe the handling of trauma patients. The doctors and the wonderful nursing staff relied on each other for constant patient care and monitoring. It was amazing to see the trust among these colleagues, especially since they sometimes had to work with limited electricity.

We came across many interesting cases, ranging from a rare elephantitis to tibia fractures and hematomas. The importance of sterile techniques was evident, given the limited use of gloves and a lack of proper sanitation in the hospital.

We also volunteered at an orphanage for several days where we organized games and activities for the children of Kathmandu. We played card games, taught them duck, duck, goose, and even held a yoga class! While the kids thoroughly enjoyed their playtime, we left with a newfound perspective, seeing how carefree and open-minded the children were despite their living conditions.

In our free time, we ventured to temples and markets around Kathmandu, and embraced the Nepali and Hindu culture. We celebrated festivals, learned cultural dance, acquired a new love for Nepali food and donned traditional Nepalese garb.

During one long weekend, we escaped the city to visit the wild animals in Chitwan National Park. We walked through the jungle on foot, encountering a rare one-horned rhino and many species of monkey. We thoroughly enjoyed the rural aspect of Nepal, and we made sure to take the opportunity to ride and feed the elephants before heading back to the hospital.

The medical and cultural experiences were life changing (we’re still in contact with many of the nurses and hope to stay in touch) and we are ever grateful to our host family, the Dhakals, who facilitated two of the most amazing weeks of our lives.  

 

(by Jonathon Marshall, OMS I and Bina Kviatkovsky, OMS I)