In April 2015, Nepal was hit by an earthquake measuring 7.8 in magnitude. The town of Bahrabise is 6 miles away from the epicenter of where the earthquake hit. 97% of the houses in this area were destroyed in the earthquake or by the aftershocks. Those that remain are perched precariously on hillsides that are eroding beneath them.
For residents of Nepal, ‘water, sanitation and hygiene associated diseases (WASH)’ including skin diseases, ARI and diarrheal diseases are the three leading preventable diseases¹. Over half of Nepal’s population - +15 million – lack access to adequate sanitation².
Increasing investment in WASH services is needed to mitigate the impact of the natural disasters so common in this part of the world. Nepal is prone to the occurrence of natural disasters, particularly earthquakes, floods, and landslides.
In 2016, The Vaseline® Healing Project along with Direct Relief traveled to the disaster struck area and set-up a 5 day medical clinic to treat local residents and those that live nearby. Some people traveled over 6 hours, some even barefoot, to see a doctor.
1. WHO Country Cooperation Strategy, Nepal, 2013-2017
We were fortunate to work with a great team of optometrists, pediatric doctors, and dermatologists, as well as general practitioners, on the ground. And over the course of the mission, we were able to treat 2,302 people who otherwise would not have had access to medical care. Our volunteer dermatologists treated 421 people for their specific skin conditions.
The team treated and taught the patients how to look after their skin.
Many people presented with common skin conditions such as dermatitis, eczema, pruritus and tinea veriscola. These issues, if diagnosed and treated early, can avoid later complications and save further discomfort allowing patients to return to their everyday lives.
The Vaseline® Healing Project Advisory Board Dermatologist, Dr. Jaber, attended the camp and treated a range of skin issues.
A local doctor explained to us that the Nepalese subscribe to the Hindu belief that if you're blessed in this life, then it is due to your behavior in a previous life. He said they “hold happiness in their hearts” and are grateful for all the blessings in their lives.
“Grateful” is the word and the overwhelming emotion associated with this trip. Those of us who traveled to Nepal to join the Kathmandu-based team from CHEERS (a Children’s Hospital For Eye ENT and Rehabilitation Service) were grateful for the opportunity to visit such a beautiful country and glad to be able to bring some relief to the people we met.
And in turn we were grateful and touched by the endless blessings and “Namastes” heaped on us.