Volunteers from All Hands are building a rehabilitation unit in Chautara, the capital of the Sindhupalchok region, for patients who have major injuries caused by the earthquakes in Nepal.
Eight hundred and fifty-nine people were injured in the earthquakes of April and May in the Sindhupalchok region. In a country that is still developing its medical infrastructure, the sheer number of injuries presented a huge challenge. People flocked to Kathmandu to receive treatment, leaving regions that had either underdeveloped or earthquake compromised medical facilities. Doctors had to treat patients in the open or in field hospitals due to lack of safe buildings, with tents being turned into wards and people being sent home as they had nowhere to recuperate.
As the months have passed, hospitals have reopened and conditions have improved, but there is still a large volume of patients that have a long road ahead of them. Due to the amount of collapsed buildings, many people suffered from crush injuries that resulted in spinal injuries and amputations. These patients have been trying to recover, however being in Kathmandu means they are far from home and far from their support structures.
Working with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), All Hands is converting a green field site in to a series of accessible buildings that can be used for physiotherapy, temporary wards and treatment spaces. This Step-Down unit will allow injured earthquake survivors and their families to be together during the rehabilitation phase, as well as take some pressure off the overburdened facilities in Kathmandu. Patients and their carers, will receive Physio and Psychosocial support, training and advice to enable them to eventually reintegrate back into their own homes, surrounds and lives. Up to 20 patients will be able to be accommodated at any one time.
“This project is the one I came to Nepal to do. I have been here nearly five months, helping build schools, homes and camps, but this is the one that is closest to my heart. Not only are we helping people recuperate, we are helping to bring them home.”, says Mark Jackson, Transitional Construction Coordinator for All Hands Volunteers.
The initial phase involved preparing the land, including diverting drainage systems and improving the access road. Then the teams used an excavator to clear the foliage and level the soil. Now the teams are building foundations for temporary and transitional building, digging and fitting septic tanks, installing wheelchair accessible paths and ramps, and erecting fencing.
Although this is not a permanent base for All Hands, with volunteers camping in a temporary site in the town, they have been overwhelmed with the welcome they have received from their new neighbors. This means a lot for this town, who can finally welcome home those who have been recovering on their own for that past five months.
– Written by Bernardine Carroll, photos by Suraj Shakya