Stuart in Nepal – Wonderful Green Pastures
The last few days have been a bit of a whirlwind. Our whole staff team spent an amazing 3 days up in the Highlands doing some really intensive work on the future direction and messaging of our fundraising in Scotland before I travelled almost immediately to Nepal. 3 flights from Edinburgh to Doha to Kathmandu to Pokhara were pretty exhausting. But definitely worth it.
I’d heard a lot about Green Pastures Hospital before coming here and it was great to finally see it for myself. It’s a really impressive setup, with the leprosy unit within a larger hospital which also has a fantastic new ear centre and other critical specialities. The staff from International Nepal Fellowship were incredibly welcoming and I hope now that we’ve met face to face we’ll be able to discuss getting more regular feedback and stories to show you the impact of your support.
In many ways the work they do here is very similar to what I’ve seen at leprosy hospitals in many different countries. It is always heartbreaking to hear people’s stories of the impact that leprosy has had in their lives, from the musician who can no longer make a living and has given up playing altogether to the girl whose mother wouldn’t let me take her photograph because of fear of being identified.
At the same time there is great joy in seeing people being healed and restored, both physically and emotionally, so that they can build a better life for the future.
On the staff team there are two people in particular who for me have a powerful impact in this area. Tham and Sita both contracted leprosy in their youth and have overcome physical deformity, discrimination and stigma. They now work with patients to offer a form of peer support and counselling to give them hope and confidence. I’ll share their stories in more detail in the future.
A particular highlight of my all-too-short visit was to spend time with Usha and Biswa on the hospital farm. Many of you gave generous gifts last year in response to her story and they featured in last autumn’s edition of Dochas, our supporter magazine. There was a lot of giggling, a mixture of excitement and embarrassment, when I gave them a copy with their photo on the cover.
In the end they weren’t able to open the shop that they had been thinking about – for a number of reasons including that without children there would be nobody to help them or to take it over as they get older. They are happy to still be working on the hospital farm with a decent place to live and a respectable way to be making a living. They were very grateful to know that people from across the world were interested in their story and in helping everyone who receives the great care that Green Pastures delivers.