Tim waiting for his flight

Tim Travels to Nepal

After a few months of planning and a nerve biting wait for my visas, I started my journey to Nepal on Saturday evening. The first leg of my flight was 7 hours through the night from Glasgow to Dubai, with my 6ft height making sleep in my seat just wishful thinking. Touching down in Dubai made me feel that I had truly headed East, with a great mix of people waiting for onward flights to far flung places. Dubai airport seemed so large with more busses and trucks than my home town of Stirling. As I made the considerable journey from terminal to terminal by bus I started to wonder how my suitcase could possibly find its way onto my onward flight relying on its fragile paper tag. I had four hours to wait before my flight to Nepal’s capital Kathmandu, and by now I was struggling to keep my eyes open. I was very relieved when called to board, as I thought I might nod off, and miss the plane! Another bus ride to reach the aircraft, and we were off. With increasing tiredness I think I slept for an hour during the 4 hour flight to Nepal.

The descent through clouds and over mountains into Kathmandu was like dropping into another world. All you see are colourful buildings and steep green slopes. Once reunited with my case (I should never have doubted those Dubai baggage handlers) I was picked up by Rajan to make the drive to the hotel. It turned out that the local Holi Festival was on 12th March, so all of Kathmandu was still on the streets as night fell. Without street lights, I was most impressed that Rajan didn’t hit any of the cars, bikes, trucks, buses, motorbikes, people or animals who all wanted to unpredictably cut across our path. 4×4 was very hand for the potholes too.

It was great to travel so far and arrive to find some friendly faces. Joanne Briggs from Northern Ireland, Arianna Bobba from TLM International and Dr Zaw from Myanmar were all in reception along with new friends Colin and Sally from Australia. By now I had lost all sense of time, and which meal should be next, so a quick bite to eat was followed by a very welcome sleep.

Monday and Tuesday in Kathmandu will see me attend the Annual Country Learning with partners from across Nepal joining with The Leprosy Mission Nepal to share and learn together. The theme is based on Matthew 20:28 “The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve.” The first day was filled with wonderful presentations from TLM Nepal and partners talking about projects reaching people affected by leprosy. I could see the passion and commitment to serve others in every presentation, and was so impressed with the love and care demonstrated. A highlight for me was being able to hear from six people affected by leprosy who shared the fears and hardships they have faced, but also the care and support they have received bringing back hope to broken lives.

18 year old Puja suffered with leprosy from the age of 9, but it took 6 years before she was correctly diagnosed and was referred to Anandaban Hospital. Her health is now better and she plans to study to become a Lab Assistant, so she can work to diagnose leprosy for others more quickly than her own diagnosis. She truly summed up the desire “not to be served but to serve”.

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13th Mar 2017

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Opinions are the authors own and not necessarily those of The Leprosy Mission Scotland.