Emma Kelly - Medicine in Nepal
Before Nepal I had never been to a country quite like it, but since my return I can't wait to explore more of the world and discover cultures which contrast to my own. It really boosted my confidence and proved to myself my ability to be independent which will be of vital importance now and for the rest of my life.
I have realised the level of difference that I can make to others and that small things do matter, a smile or a conversation goes a long way no matter where you are. It has reaffirmed my desire to be a doctor and study medicine at university. I am sure my experiences will always be a conversation starter in any situation!
The thing I will take away from the trip most are the fellow volunteers I met in Nepal. I now have links with friends in so many countries - Canada, USA, Singapore, Holland and so many more! We were like a family, so close and sharing memories which will never be forgotten. We still keep in touch via Facebook and are planning to meet up soon.
Arriving in Kathmandu
When I arrived in Kathmandu, I was amazed at the roads and buildings which were so different from that in the UK. The roads were dusty and noisy and to our surprise and amusement they were lined with large numbers of buffalo, dogs, goats and people, hundreds of people! These were all dodging cars and bikes as they made their journeys with what appeared to be no thought at all.
I realised later in the trip that it was harder than it had looked to cross the road - especially when people gathered around us and slowed down their vehicles to look or speak to you. They were fascinated because we looked so different. I was overwhelmed with how friendly and interested the Nepali people were and I honestly couldn't describe them as anything other than lovely.
My Medical Placement
First of all, we had chance to introduce ourselves to the group of 25 of us participating on the programme before we moved to Chitwan to start our placements at the hospitals. There were five different hospitals – the family planning centre, cancer hospital, eye clinic, CMC and community hospital.
We were able to see a huge range of patients with different conditions and we could also go into the operating theatre to watch a variety of surgeries. The doctors were friendly and explained procedures well. They were incredible to witness and I learnt so much from just a few days! My particular favourite was watching a caesarean procedure.
It was fascinating to make a comparison between healthcare in Nepal and the UK. Nepal seemed so much more relaxed. For example, the surgeon answering her phone part way through the surgery and holding it on her shoulder whilst operating was one of the more humorous aspects.
There was also the simple but noticeable difference in confidentiality measures. Such as in a consultation, other patients would be present in the room waiting for their eye exam or ultra sound scan whilst another takes place. This came across as quite bizarre after seeing an English hospital, however it worked excellently for time saving between seeing patients.
We stayed in a lovely hotel in Bharatpur, Chitwan which had an outdoor swimming pool - perfect for afternoons after our placements for meeting and socialising before exploring the town's shops and markets.
In the evenings there were opportunities to visit orphanages, take part in a group quiz and attend a yoga class in a temple which we all really enjoyed. The Nepali food was delicious and never short of flavour or spice. My favourite was a dish of momos, which I miss already. I'm hoping they become popular and can be found in England soon!
We spent two days of the trip at Chitwan National Park doing some fantastic once in a lifetime activities starting with a canoe trip to the jungle. From here we went on a walk in search of tigers before finishing at the elephant breeding centre.
On the elephant safari we saw lots of animals including wild rhino with their babies cooling down in the mud.
This was the best thing I have ever done and I cannot recommend the trip highly enough.