RMF Nurse Laxmi examining Purna
Arupokhari Still Recovering
Gorkha is a rugged, hilly district of central Nepal. Within Gorkha, Arupokhari village is very near to Barpak, the epicenter of the April 2015 megaquake. Most homes, health facilities, and schools in the area were destroyed, and about 60 percent of the birthing centers were damaged.
Almost four years later, Arupokhari is still recovering from the massive disaster. Most people lost their homes, relatives, and almost every possession they had. Many young people are intent on migrating to other parts of the country in order to find work or safer areas to live, leaving elderly relatives to fend for themselves in their remote home village. Loneliness and feelings loss can become overwhelming to these elders, who are forced to live by themselves.
Dignified, Accessible Care
Soon after the earthquake, RMF began providing much-needed emergency support to the people of Arupokhari, and the RMF Health Clinic has been providing free health services to the people of Arupokhari and its neighboring villages since January 2016. The clinic has become one of the most popular institutions in the area, as even the government health facility has been unable to provide such dignified, accessible, around-the-clock care to the locals, even during rainy season.
Elderly Client Receives Emotional Support and Counsel
Purna Maya, a 78-year-old woman, visited the RMF Health Clinic complaining that she could not sleep, was not interested in anything, and had not felt happy for some time. Asking about her family background, we learned that she is a widow living alone in Arupokhari. Her children had moved to other towns, seeking safety after the earthquake, but Purna could not leave the house where she had spent her entire life; she could not just leave as if the place meant nothing to her.
When Purna started living alone, initially her children would visit frequently and bring necessary amenities, but as time passed, the number of her children’s visits reduced, and she started feeling lonely. This is the reason she could not sleep or eat properly. She thought of going to a traditional healer at first, but felt that rather than taking a humble animal’s life (a rooster or a baby goat) as a means of healing by the traditional healer, it would be better to know if some kind of tablets could help.
So Purna came to the RMF Health Clinic, and RMF Nurse Laxmi assessed her. Nurse Laxmi appreciated that Purna came to seek medical assistance for the problem she had, instead of going to a traditional healer. Purna asked for some medication, but Laxmi explained that such medications could not be given without a doctor’s prescription.
She listened to Purna’s story and counseled her, asking Purna to talk to her children and if that did not help, to visit a hospital for appropriate treatment. Purna told Nurse Laxmi that she would go and live with her son for a short period of time to see if her condition would improve. She also thanked Nurse Laxmi for the advice.
The RMF Health Clinic in Arupokhari, Gorkha has gained popularity among the local people, and its reputation is growing day by day. The quality of healthcare services provided by the RMF Health Clinic is unmatched by any other health facility in the area, due to emergency service provision and availability of a large variety of medicines at a highly subsidized rate (much lower than market prices).
The clinic’s community programs are also much appreciated by the people and local authorities. In 2018 alone, the RMF Health Clinic provided holistic health services to 8,330 patients. Construction of the new, earthquake-resistant building for the RMF Health Clinic has been completed, and furniture is being acquired with support from the municipality.
- Rebuild the village as a replicable model, which will include earthquake-safe structures designed by architects and engineers
- Use local natural and human resources to ensure ownership and sustainability
- Improve healthcare access and education based on the needs of the communities and with the leadership of the local people
In line with RMF’s concepts and the government of Nepal’s vision for a comprehensive and eventually sustainable Model Village, RMF, in close partnership and collaboration with Sarswati Foundation will be working towards the development of a Model Village in Arupokhari. Sarswati Foundation has been working in Arupokhari, Gorkha since 2009 as a non-profit. This was co-founded by Subhash Ghimire, a native from that village and editor-in-chief of the Republica, Nepal’s leading English daily that publishes with the New York Times in Kathmandu.
Following the devastating earthquake, the non-profit has been actively engaged in relief and reconstruction works in the area, which includes providing food and temporary shelter relief to the affected people. So far, the foundation has delivered 7.5 tons (100 sacks of 30 kg rice, 50 sacks of 50 kg lentils, 500 sacks of 0.5 L of oil, 500 packets of 1 kg salt, 495 blankets, 350 tents) to the community, and aims to rebuild the village as a replicable model, which will include earthquake-safe structures designed by architects and engineers, utilizing local natural and human resources to ensure ownership and sustainability, improved healthcare access, education and livelihood programs, based on the needs of the communities and with the leadership of the local people.
Similarly, the village also holds a huge potential as a thriving Manaslu trekking route, along with a 600-megawatt hydro project being planned around in the area. In addition, the community is also actively engaged in production of local agricultural products and livestock. With a thought-out detailed plan, the opportunities of the village could be tapped in to create a replicable, integrated and sustainable Model Village.
RMF supports the rebuilding of Sarswati Peace School (more than 200 students, mostly from economically and culturally marginalized backgrounds) and Darbar Higher Secondary School (public school with more than 400 students), both of which were badly damaged during the earthquake. The current plan is to demolish the existing damaged structure and construct earthquake resistant buildings.
Along with the support to the reconstruction of the schools, the model village project also seeks to help build at least 100 temporary shelters and 700 permanent houses to the identified most vulnerable households in the community and one earthquake resistant local health center. Health services, education, and the economy will be supported for the long-term as the people of Arupokhari build a stronger future in collaboration with RMF and Sarswati.