It was a birthday celebration that lured me to Nepal. Perhaps that is why my journey was filled with such joy. I often travel to developing nations to provide homeopathic care and training after natural disasters. That's what drew me to Haiti and what got me to return to Port au Prince for a year. But Nepal was different. My son, Asher, was spending several months in Kathmandu while studying global medicine as part of his medical training, and he wanted family around when he turned 30. I immediately said, “YES!” After that, I reached out to all my contacts and asked if anyone knew about homeopathy in Nepal.
Gina Inez, a friend and fellow homeopath, told me of the Bhaktapur Homeopathic Clinic and Medical College. I learned that the BHCMC was founded by a group of European and Nepalese physicians to offer healthcare and vocational training in homeopathy and natural medicine in Nepal. Most patients are treated for free and for many Nepalis the clinic provides their only access to medical care. More details emerged (about the work of the medical team at the health center, the teaching institute, ways to volunteer, and ways to help), but I needed nothing more to convince me that it was time to plan my trip.
I made contacts at the clinic, re-arranged my work schedule, and booked a flight to Kathmandu. What a birthday this would be - not just for my son, but for me, too.
I arrived at the Tribhuvan International Airport late at night. Asher greeted me with a lei, which he lifted over my head and offered me my first “Namaste.” We stayed at the Kathmandu Guest House, a converted mansion in the middle of Thamal, the frenetic tourist district of the city. In the mornings Asher worked in the hospital in nearby Patan. I went exploring and eventually made my way to Bhaktapur. Fortunately, I found a guide who could lead me through the maze of unmarked streets to the clinic. When we finally saw the sign that said “Bhaktapur Homeopathic Clinic and Medical College”, the sight took my breath away. Here in this ancient Newar town, filled with pagodas, temples, and a magnificent wood carved palace, was a sophisticated homeopathic medical clinic and training center dedicated to providing free healthcare to some of the poorest people in the world.
Rabindra Puri, an architect and supporter of homeopathy, greeted me. It was he (with the support of European homeopaths Dr. Tinus Smits, Dr. Ortud Lindemann, Dr. Resie Moonen, Dr. Kurt Costers, and Dr. Barbara Fischer) who initiated the project. He offered me chai tea and shared the clinic's story. Students carrying heavy homeopathic texts passed in the narrow hallway. One of the students, Samita Shilpakar, offered me a tour. Following her gracious lead, I ducked my head and turned sideways to pass through the compact school. I looked at the bookshelves and spotted old favorites, books that, in the last ten or twenty years, I've only read on my computer screen: Clarke, Allen, and Boericke. Later I visited the medicinary and intake room of the clinic. It was the most rewarding day of my journey and I could not wait to tell others.
I returned to the guesthouse eager to write back to the states, to tell the story of the Bhaktapur Clinic, to inform people of the good work being done there and to tell of their need for help to construct a new building, to buy medical supplies, and to sponsor students. The new building is needed so that BHCMC complies with criteria of their recent accreditation as a Medical College. In this new site, they will be better able to serve students and patients and they will also be able to provide accommodation for students who come from distant parts of the country.
Later in the week I met with Dr. Ambika Gyawali, one of the clinic's Nepali physicians. He came to the guesthouse on his motor scooter (the primary means of transportation in a country with crowded streets with little room to maneuver). He sat with Asher and me and described the care that is offered in the homeopathic clinic. He compared notes with my son and instructed him in the ways that the clinic and college provide a unique service to the Nepali people: homeopathy is affordable, requires no great technical skills, and fits with the cultural background and traditions of the country. What's more, it is possible to train Nepalese students in just 3 years so they can provide health care to people in remote parts of the country.
As an example, I'd like to share you with a case of homeopathic treatment of Typhus, in the words of Dr. Resie Moonen, visiting the Bhaktapur Clinic from her home in the Netherlands.
“A father brought his 15 year old son, who was suffering from typhus. The boy was terribly ill, with a high fever and weakness. I first gave him Belladonna due to his general symptoms. The next day, however, the father brought him back as he was even worse than before. I then gave him Baptisia because of his puffy face and the fact that he could barely think or speak; his father had to answer questions for him.
The next day, they came again and the condition had deteriorated even more. The boy reminded me of my own 15 year-old son in the Netherlands and I realized that all day long I had had a sort of anticipation anxiety concerning their next appointment with me. I was very worried about him and I knew that the parents could not afford to send him to hospital.
The third day, the father came carrying his son, as he was too weak to walk. He still had a very high fever. He said that he had a terrible headache and that he could hardly keep his eyes open because his eyelids were so heavy. All his muscles hurt and on examining him, I noticed that he was trembling. Fortunately, I thought of Gelsemium - it is important to note that I myself was almost in a Gelsemium state, as though I had to pass an exam. If I did not succeed the boy would die. I put Gelsemium 200 in his mouth and had him take a sip of Gelsemium 200 dissolved in water once per hour.
The next day, they showed up again, and what a joy: the boy had slept well, the fever was gone, he was able to eat and drink, and the headache has disappeared. The father was extremely happy and so was I! A few days later, I saw the boy walking through the streets of Bhaktapur, strong and healthy, the way a fifteen year-old should be.”
What a gift to the boy, his family and the students studying at the clinic!
My meetings continued and I reached farther to make helpful connections. I spoke with Dr. Todd Rowe, President of the American Medical College of Homeopathy, and asked him to share the documents, syllabi, and curriculum that the Phoenix school had used in its accreditation process. I mentioned the Clinic and Medical College in papers to the UN Committee on NGO's when describing worthy projects for the future. I met with and donated homeopathic texts to the medical students working with my son so that they could better understand homeopathy, the work of the clinic, and the ways that homeopathy might be introduced into their future global medicine practices. Then, after ten days of travel filled with meetings and discussions, it was time for the birthday party.
Asher selected a restaurant at Dwarika's Kathmandu, a heritage hotel modeled on the architectural of the palaces of the Newar Kings. Together with other medical students from France, India, and the US, we sat at a low wooden table and feasted on a many-course meal suited for the Maharajas of Nepal. The vegetables came from the hotel's own organic gardens, the meals were served on traditional brass and earthenware plates, and each hostess serving the dishes represented a different ethnic community. The meal was superb and was surpassed only by the beautiful Nepali women who surprised us at the meal's end carrying a cake and singing happy birthday to Asher. Everyone in the restaurant joined in. Then after making a wish and blowing out the candles, Asher cut the cake and shared slices with every table. All the guests appreciated his generosity and each person offered their best wishes at the end of the evening. It was a glorious celebration and I was grateful that I was able to come to Nepal to be with my son on his special day.
I am still trying to make connections for the school in Bhaktapur and hope that others will be generous in their support for the college and clinic.
For information on the Bhaktapur Clinic and how you can help go to: www.homeopathynepal.com
For information on the development of homeopathy in Nepal go to: http://hpathy.com/past-present/development-of-homeopathy-in-nepal/