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Our Last volunteer was sent to the Kathmandu Clinic in 2012. Because the clinic was so successful, managers decided to look for a permanent Nepali doctor who could provide acupuncture. MMW maintains a good relationship with this clinic, providing support in their process of independent care. The following are past volunteer blogs while at the Kathmandu Clinic.


Volunteer Coordinator Rich Blitstein 2012

I am writing this on my last day in Kathmandu after a whirlwind two weeks which were very fulfilling, tiring and especially fruitful.  It was wonderful to see first hand, the results of our work at Mindful Medicine Worldwide (MMW) on the ground in Nepal.

I began my visit by being picked up at the airport by Sonam, our translator at Shechen clinic and Kelsie Coy who is currently our acupuncture volunteer there, and driving up to Nagi Gompa on a hill high above the valley.  There we have an outreach clinic on Fridays in order to serve the nuns who live in this beautiful but isolated setting. The road was barely passable due to the monsoon rains but we did make it and had a wonderful time treating the nuns. 

Kelsie is in her 3rd month of a 4 month commitment at Shechen Clinic in the Boudha area of Kathmandu where we have had volunteers for the last two years.  There she sees more than 20 or more patients a day 4 days a week, from all around the Kathmandu area suffering from a variety of complaints with neuropathy, musculoskeletal pain and sinusitis being most common.  Our efforts in providing continuous staffing of this location have not only been greatly appreciated by the patients but the staff running the clinic could not stop saying positive things about our services and thanking us for our work.

Next I spent 3 days at the Vajra Varahi Clinic in Chapagaon on the other side of the valley from Kathmandu.  There I was happy to see my former student and current Mindful Medicine Worldwide volunteer, Ben Hoff, who is finishing up his four month commitment working at the clinic.  Here the majority of the patients are rural farmers from the surrounding communities and some patients regularly travel two or three hours to visit the clinic.  Here too, the patient load is high and the clinic runs very smoothly due to the dedication of the volunteers, the Nepali staff and Nicky Glegg’s (the clinic director) great  organizational control.

After a couple of more days  back at Sechen clinic in Bouddha I travelled up to the Thrangu clinic in the monastery near Namobuddha which we began to staff this year. There I was greeted by Lama Yonten and Jamyang, both monks and managers of the clinic.   The stunning location, surrounded by terraced fields covering the steep hills is only surpassed by the beautiful monastery perched high on a hill top.  The clinic is in a new building with two floors dedicated to the clinic and two dedicated to living quarters for the monks and volunteer staff.  The clinic offers western medicines, small out patient surgeries and some emergency care, acupuncture, Tibetan medicine and currently massage therapy provided by our volunteer Joe Jablonski who is doing a great job there working sometimes 7 days a week.  The patient population is similar to Chapagaon clinic with the majority of patients being rural farmers coming  from the Tamang villages surrounding the monastery.  There are 200 monks at the monastery and many also come for treatment, as well.

   After 3 days at the monastery I did not want to leave but I had last minute Mindful Medicine Worldwide tasks to complete back in Boudha so it was with great regreat that I returned to Kathmandu yesterday.  Tonight I fly out feeling that my time here has been very productive with a number of pending tasks having been completed and plans begun for our future project of educating translators and staff at the clinic to become full fledged acupuncturists.  More on that later…for now, Namaste from the top of the world.

Richard Blitstein L.Ac., Volunteer Coordinator

Recent Events

It has been a very busy new year in Nepal.  We have had 5 volunteers spread over our three clinics since January.  It has been quite an international crew with volunteers from Colombia, the United States, Israel and Singapore.  There has been a heavy load of patients at all of our clinics but our volunteer acupuncturists have been able to keep up with the long work days and sometimes difficult conditions.  Bravo!  We are forging ahead with our mission to train local personel in acupuncture and have been making important connections with a small new acupuncture school in Kathmandu.  We are planning to help them with seminars taught by our visiting senior acupuncturists.  Sending our Nepali trainees/interpreters to this school will give them an invaluable base upon which they will build as they work in our clinics in an apprenticeship model.  We have made a number of internal changes to systematize and streamline the volunteer application and selection process.  On another note our plans for staffing clinics in Thailand have been moving along with a few good contacts who are willing to handle our dealings with the government health ministry.     Looking ahead at our fundraising efforts we have our next event this May 20th which should be a lot of fun.Stay tuned for more news!!! -Richard Blitstein L.Ac.Volunteer Coordinator

Gilad Yakir arrives at the Sechen Clinic

My name is Gilad and I am from Israel.  I started volunteering about a month ago in Sechen clinic in Boudhanath with MMW. Once people knew there was an acupuncturist there, they started coming again, so initially a few local people came, but after a few days already it became pretty full. Sometimes I come in the morning and 6-7 people are already waiting. The patients vary from farmers with arthritis, monks with back pain and Westerners with stomach problems. In the first couple of weeks I worked mostly with local needling, partly because that’s what the patients expect. It seems to most of them weird that i'll put a needle in a distal point... but once I explain it, they accept it. Still, most of the acu. points were local. For example many "retired" farmers have swollen and painful knees- probably caused by many years of bending in wet rice fields etc. - I do the local point- st35,heding,xi yan, liv7,gb33,sp9,10 etc +moxa on needle- usually on st 35 + a distal point such as gb39 or sp5. The patient comes 3-4 times a week- and definitely the swelling and pain was lessened every day, and I recall one of them who came diligently every day and after 2 weeks asked to be treated in another part of his body because his knees felt much better. The advantage here is that we can tell the patients how often to come. Its much better treating a problem 3-4 times a week then once a week, as is usually practiced in the West.

 I find also some people need the treatment as a form of attention. With them, I try to relax and comfort them more- doing points like yin tang, sp15,liv3, ht 7- just to get the flow of their qi going and so they feel calmer. For example, one paralyzed 19 year old girl comes once a week in a wheel chair. I don’t tell her there’s nothing really i can do with her paralysis and instead treat her headaches, insomnia etc. It seems very important for her to come and it makes her a bit happy in her otherwise very difficult life. Usually we see around 20-25 patience a day here, and the pace depends on the practitioner.

 Every Friday we go up to Nagi-Gompa, which is a nunnery, and there in a space of 2-3 hours we treat the nuns and some local farmers. The nuns are very open with their problems and there I felt I need more time to assess, feel the pulse longer, ask more questions etc. Their cases feel more complicated than "just" a painful back of someone who carries heavy weights all their lives. Sometimes for example a nun can have some kind of stagnation & inner heat with external cold. Plenty of local needles do work, but in the coming weeks i'll use different methods, in order for the healing process to be faster. Also now and then there can be sent in a patient who has epilepsy, heavy nose bleeding or is partially-unconscious. So occasionally, at times like this, we send them to the allopatic M.D.


                                                -Gilad Yakir, volunteer, MMW






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