Free Medical Camp in the Himalayas
Our free Medical Camp involves travelling into the Himalayan foothills to help run a medical and dental clinic in two Nepali villages called Bupsa and Bumburi where we have been working since 2001. The trip offers a unique and fascinating insight into rural healthcare and it has been running successfully now for many years. The data we collect from these health camps enables the charity to decide on future projects around provision of clear water, smokeless stoves in the homes and public health campaigns in the schools.
We have been running free community medical camps since 2010 and they have formed the backbone of a very successful health programme in the villages which have been well documented by previous students and has helped our charity to develop and fund the running of a rural community health clinic in Bumburi village.
We employ Nepalese doctors and dentists to supervise and support volunteer medical and dentistry students from the UK. Read comprehensive reports from the 2016 Medical Camp, 2017 Medical Camp and the 2018 Medical Camp which include testimonials from previous students and reviews from the Nepalese Medical staff.
There are more photo's and further information about the Nepal Medical Camp available on the dedicated website for students from Bristol University (you don't have to be a Bristol University student to access this website).
The clinics attract people from miles around, many of whom have walked for hours or even days to reach the clinic. In previous years we have seen well over 1,000 people in 10 days. Throughout these camps we aim to see as many patients as possible, and provide free medical and dental attention, treatment and advice. We also aim to collect medical data to help gain a better understanding of the most common health issues in the area - this has helped Moving Mountains to tailor our work in the area by providing effective and sustainable health related projects (like our water project or the eco-friendly cooking stoves); which was always the long term aim.
We also aim to provide some basic medical education to the local people, such as basic first aid skills, oral hygiene education and other primary healthcare advice. The trip is suitable for undergraduates studying medicine and dentistry but also for qualified medical professionals, nurses, dentists and anyone interested in community public health in a region like this. It has clear career benefits but we would like to think this is not the primary motive for coming, the prime incentive is to help create a proper medical support network which has a reach of thousands of people, something that became visibly apparent during the aftermath of the earthquake in May 2015.
The fundraising for this trip pays for the Nepalese staff and the medical supplies used, and also the running of a community health clinic and salaries for the full-time medical staff who offer frontline health facilities for local people and referrals to the main clinic in Saleri or Kathmandu for more difficult cases. It also covers your land costs, as detailed under the 'Costs' section.
For this trip you don't need to be a fully qualified physician, the programme is designed so that you are giving a valuable service but also gaining personal experience. At the same time it is allowing you to interact with local Nepalese Doctors, Dentists and Pharmacists who can show you specific applications tailored to the local needs.
Openness, willingness to learn and take part, enthusiasm and initiative would all be good requirements, this is not a tourist region so you will find conditions quite rural and basic. The accommodation is in a traditional Sherpa home, the food is mostly Sherpa food and people dress traditionally. You will be able to take part in community events, there is always a party to celebrate the camp and it's a combination of Sherpa dancing and drinking of the local rakshi made mostly from potatoes.
Healthcare is fairly rudimentary in these areas, and public health campaigns almost non-existent. The school children all need teaching about basic issues and conditions in the homes are much the same as they were fifty years ago. Having said that, as we have provided clean water, electricity, smokeless stoves, back boilers with hot water and a better education there has been a change in the types of conditions that the medical camp has recorded. Less respiratory problems for example, less dermatological problems as people are able to wash more frequently with hot water and soap. But long term joint problems are a continued problem, given that most people work a hard farming life and also porter for tourists. Pre-natal care is a big concern, the level of infant mortality and labour complications is unnecessarily high and could easily be avoided.
Slowly these medical camps have provided an incremental positive change in the health of the region, and we are keen to continue for as long as possible. Your help and fundraising will make this possible.
MEDICAL CAMP PRINCIPLES
Inclusive and relevant
Our medical camps are open to anybody, and there is a clear understanding that any community event like this can only exist if there is a need that is identified by the local people in the villages.
In terms of the volunteering and visitor experience we try to ensure that the emphasis on personal development and international development is balanced, and that this medical camp is always part of a long term aim which has been properly evidenced.
Our support includes preparation from dedicated staff in the UK, which ensures that your time with us is productive and enjoyable and effective. Our staff are experienced in managing volunteer expectations, and have a background in development.
Every camp aims to achieve some kind of development impact which has been developed in partnership with a credible partner, in our case Adventure Alternative which has over twenty years of experience in responsible tourism and supporting social welfare, education and health in developing countries through our sister charity Moving Mountains.
We analyse the processes of change that occur so that there is clear evidence for the need of events like this, and we use impact assessment 'maps' to try and define the developmental process.
We communicate with all relevant stakeholders and ensure that the placements are collectively agreed, for example with regional administrations and village development committees in the Solukhumbu region.
Integrating with the community
The living arrangements for placements ensures that volunteers develop a real insight into the lives of the community, which includes trekking through local villages, experiencing Tibetan Buddhism, cooking local recipes and using community facilities like Medical Clinic in Bumburi and the schools which we've developed.
Long term commitment
During the trip there is always opportunity to meet with experienced staff who can help with evaluations and reflection, helping to build on the skills and knowledge and experience being gained. One of the biggest aims of the programme is to encourage people to engage in society on their return and take part in many incentives to promote global healthcare solutions.
Role model and responsibility
You will be working with Nepali medical professionals and, unless you are yourself qualified to do so, not expected to make decisions. Your role is to assist, observe, record and support with your fundraising and presence. However local people do of course make assumptions so it will be important to ensure you do not feel compromised or pressured, and it will be important to always communicate with the Nepali staff in order to prevent or deal with any problems.
We have opinions on the ethics of medical students going abroad to do electives and run medical camps, and we are aware of the ethical dilemmas surrounding this type of 'volunteering'. However, if an event like this is run properly and the balance is correct and people are informed and the outcomes are relevant and meaningful and positively contribute - which we have found to be the case with our Moving Mountains medical camps - then it can actually be very rewarding and very beneficial. Read our paper on Ethics of a Medical Elective to see more.
MEDICAL CAMP IN NEPAL - HISTORY
This scheme is part of a wider ongoing initiative to improve the quality of life of people in the lower Khumbu region of rural Nepal. The village regeneration project is the implementation of a long-term development plan focussed around two rural villages. Overall enhancement of quality of life and sustainability of the community has so far been achieved via investment in infrastructure, education and healthcare as well as training and reliable employment.
The following is the 2016 and 2017 Medical Camp reports, there is also feedback in both from the students who took part, some of whom were only in Nepal for the Camp and others who did their Elective in Kathmandu before joining it. At the very least you'll get a better understanding of the typical medical issues that are faced in rural Nepal;
Aside from the more obvious physical and material elements, one of the main achievements of the project has been the rejuvenation of a community that was in serious decline and plagued by emigration to the lowlands and Maoist related violence. Through improvements in sanitation, schooling, employment and future prospects the communities have again begun to be an attractive proposition for life-long habitation.
The sustained close links of both Moving Mountains and Adventure Alternative to the area has provided locals with a reliable and ethical source of employment and training. Throughout the course of many years, Adventure Alternative has been running Mount Everest expeditions and Everest base camp treks. These have brought in charitable donations and also a reliable revenue stream. Many of the local Sherpa people have been employed to staff these trips as guides, porters and logistical organisers. In so-doing they have gained invaluable skills and experience.
A number of local Sherpas have now summitted Mt Everest with Adventure Alternative. This is an achievement that is held in huge esteem by the Sherpa community, helping to further raise the profile of their home villages as successful and thriving communities.
So far the physical achievements of the Moving Mountains projects include;
- Design, building, installation and commissioning of 6kw hydro-electric plant in Bumburi
- Electrical connection of all Bumburi homes to the hydro-electric plant
- Installation of hydro-mechanical milling machinery at the hydro plant in Bumburi
- Complete re-development of Bupsa school
- Complete re-development of Bumburi school
- Building of improved toilet facilities and water tap at Bumburi school
- Renovation of Bupsa Buddhist monastery
- Renovation of Bumburi monastery
- Provision of improved cooking stoves in all homes in Bumburi
- Provision of clean running water to all homes in Bumburi
- Construction and management of our Bumburi Health Clinic
Other initiatives include
- Annual medical camps in Bupsa and Bumburi providing free medical consultation and medication.
- Funding of teachers’ salaries in each of the two village schools
- Sponsorship of local children to go on to higher education in Kathmandu
- Training and employment of local villagers to run and maintain the hydro-plant
- Establishing community cooperative programmes for wealth generation
MEDICAL CAMP IN NEPAL ITINERARY
The core dates cover a 19 day period, which starts with your arrival in Kathmandu. The second day is a rest, briefing and sightseeing day. We transfer up into the mountains on day 3, arriving in to the villages on the afternoon of day 5. We then live, work and experience the local way of life and undertake the medical project in this stunningly beautiful part of the world up until day 15. We then head back to Phaplu (a 2 day walk) for our return to Kathmandu on day 18.
|1-2||Arrive in Kathmandu on day 1 for some R&R, the second day in Kathmandu gives a bit more time to acclimatise and prepare for the project, explore the city and visit local temples. Airport transfers, accommodation and meals in Kathmandu are not included in the cost as many people arrive overland from India and book in to various standards of accommodation in the city, however we can help with airport transfers and accommodation and food at our Adventure Alternative guest house in Kathmandu (this is where the trip briefing and preparation happens on day 2) and the cost for these extra's can be paid directly to our staff in Nepal, if needed.|
|3||Early start for a jeep transfer through the lowland valleys towards Saleri (the district headquarters of the Solukhumbu region) and on to the mountain village of Phaplu (long but adventurous drive with some great views along the way to give you a feel for the trek ahead) for overnight.|
|4||Start trek towards Taksindu / Ringmo where you will have fantastic views of the high Himalayan mountains. This trek is up and down through the green countryside, staying in lodges in villages on the way. The days are about 5 or 6 hours long, and will begin at about 8:30, after breakfast. The trek will be at a relaxed pace, and there is plenty of time to stop and meet people, take photos, have long lunches and enjoy this amazing region called the Solukhumbu. Altitude sickness is extremely unlikely to be an issue, since Bumburi is at an approximate height of 2,300m and throughout the trek you will be very well looked after by the Sherpas.|
|5||Continue trek, passing through many villages and getting up close with the culture in this incredible area which is immersed in the peaceful world of Tibetan Buddhism, and framed by the majestic Himalayas, arriving in the village of Bupsa in the afternoon, where the first half of the medical camp will be held.|
|6 - 15||Medical Camp in Bupsa and Bumburi. Our time will be split between the two villages and the camp/clinics will start on day 6 and finish on day 15. In the evening of day 15 there will be a local celebration performed by the local Sherpa community who will want to thank you for your effort and time over the previous 10 days.|
|16 - 17||On day 16 we will bid farewell to our hosts and leave the villages to trek back through the valleys towards Ringmo/Taksindu La. Then on day 17 we continue our trek to Phaplu for our final night in the mountains.|
|18||Jeep transfer back to Kathmandu where accommodation and / or food can be provided at our Adventure Alternative guest house in Kathmandu, the cost for these extra's can be paid directly to our staff in Nepal, if needed.|
|19||Either continue with your stay in Nepal or onward travel (home or elsewhere). In Nepal you can relax and visit the temples and sacred sites in this eclectic capital. We can help you with any optional add ons at this stage, such as exploring the Kathmandu valley, riding Elephants in Chitwan National Park or discovering more of Nepal.|
The return jeep transfer from Kathmandu to the mountain village of Phaplu is long (estimated 10 hours each way) but stunning and it helps to avoid lost days waiting for delayed flights in and out of the mountains. 1000's of people are left stranded at airports in the mountains every year, particularly in the months of June, July and August when visibility can be poor and flights cancelled regularly without warning.
On the trek you will be staying in tea houses and lodges and in Bumburi village you will be staying in local houses where you will be extremely well looked after by your Sherpa hosts! The accommodation is not western hotel standard, but it is comfortable. You will have a bed and a mattress, these are traditional buildings which are very much in keeping with the environment and the Sherpas have been perfecting their way of life for hundreds of years.
Food is of a good quality, plentiful and will be mainly local foods such as dal bhat (lentil stew with rice and curried potatoes or meat), boiled potatoes with chilli sauce, Sherpa stew (meat, potatoes, vegetables in a rich sauce) or curry with rice. These are the staple foods for Sherpa people. Bottled water is for sale on the trek to the villages but we do not recommend the purchase of plastic bottles which are environmentally unsound. The best option is to ask for boiled water from the kitchen to fill your water bottle in the evening, and use water purification tablets, or an AquaPure traveller water bottle during the day. Please note that cheap Nalgene water bottles bought in Nepal are fake and they split! So remember to bring a suitable bottle from home. River water is generally full of glacial silt and could possibly be contaminated with animal urine and the run-off from toilets, so do not drink this.
There will be electricity in the lodges while you are trekking and while you are in the villages. You must bring a two pin round plug adaptor though. The output is usually 110V. Power comes from a solar panel which is stepped up, or from hydro-electric power. Electrical charging in the villages is free, however there will be a charge for this in the lodges on your trek.
MEDICAL CAMP IN NEPAL COST £1395.00
This figure includes the cost of running the medical camp (Nepali medical personnel, pharmaceuticals and equipment), your land costs (transport to the mountains by jeep and walking up to the village with some porters and staying in lodges throughout with all the meals) plus a donation towards the running of the clinic for a year (salaries for two nurses, pharmaceuticals and assistance for local people being referred to hospital).
Once you sign up we ask that you set up a fundraising page on our MyDonate page (see below for details) which will automatically add gift aid to any donations from UK tax payers,
The cost of the trip specifically will go towards the following;
- All the medication / medical equipment required for the camp and it's transportation to the location of the Medical Camp
- Qualified local doctors, dentists, pharmacists and medical staff salaries and their food, accommodation and any travel required
- Medical Camp logistics, planning, local promotion and staffing
- Moving Mountains long term health and international development projects in Nepal
- Participants return jeep transfers from Kathmandu to Saleri
- Participants accommodation in the mountains, provided in local lodges and home-stays in Bumburi (twin rooms / mini-dorms with beds and mattresses)
- Three meals per day during the trek with a hot drink (additional drinks are self funded) throughout your time in the mountains
- Sherpa guides (English speaking, professional, experienced and trained in first aid), and their costs
- International flights / transfers to Kathmandu
- Visa, vaccinations / personal medication required and personal travel insurance
- Accommodation in Kathmandu on the 1st, 2nd and 18th night of the itinerary
- Airport transfers and meals in Kathmandu (we can help provide these and you can pay directly in Nepal)
- Personal costs like laundry, hot showers, bottled water and soft drinks in the mountains, snacks, etc (~£100)
- Any tourist / extra activities in Kathmandu
One of the easier ways to raise the funds is by setting up a BT MyDonate fundraising page and linking it to our Medical Camps events page (just click on the 'Start Fundraising' button on our MyDonate 'Medical Camps Events' page and sign up or log in if you're already registered with BT MyDonate).
Full details of how to do this can be found at 'Support Moving Mountains', gift aid collected through your BT MyDonate page from UK tax payers can go towards your fundraising target, so for example, if you receive donations of £1,000 on MyDonate from UK tax payers that automatically adds an extra £250 to your fundraising total.
All of our International Development Projects have been identified, researched, assessed, priced and approved by Moving Mountains. All people going on this trip receive a clear breakdown of the projected outcomes and expenditure of the money which has been raised. Some of it is spent on the camp itself - medical supplies, Nepalese medical staff, etc - and some of it goes on the long term sustainable projects that Moving Mountains Nepal are involved with. Another part of the cost goes towards your personal trip costs on the ground in Nepal.
Our local provider is Adventure Alternative Nepal which works with Moving Mountains Nepal with regards organisation of group stays, medical supplies and local Doctors and Dentists, meetings with local committees, communications between the UK office and Nepal, etc
Join us by choosing a date below and submitting an enquiry to register.
- Duration 19 Days
- Numbers 10-25
- Altitude 2850m
- Accommodation Lodges and homestays