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The recent Nepal earthquake made it to the front pages of every news source in big bold letters. However, as weeks passed, the disaster was replaced with other news and Nepal was pushed to the back of the minds by most of us. For young medical intern, Abhishek Royal, the Nepal quake is more than just a headline. Being a part of its relief operation, he gives us a first-hand account of his experiences there and how it changed the lives of thousands, including his.

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On 25th April, when an earthquake of 7.9 Richter scale hit Nepal after 80 years, there was chaos all around, but we had only one thing on our minds- this is the time to help our neighbors!
So, there we were, all set for the task ahead, a team of 10 people (including 7 doctors) from Jawahar Lal Nehru Medical College & Hospital, AMU, Aligarh, all ready for the words ‘GO FOR IT’. But things were not going to be easy. Initially, the team had planned to leave for Nepal on 2nd May, but the Nepal Embassy informed us about heavy torrential rains, aftershocks and landslides. So, we left 2 days later on 4th May with Dr Kashif Razi as team leader, Dr Adil Ali, Dr Murad, Dr Saleem Mohammad Khan, Dr Danish Suhail, along with two interns, Dr Abhishek Royal (myself) and Dr Saurabh Pathak, under the banner of an NGO of AMU students, SOCH, beyond the imagination. We left Aligarh, waved off by our VC, Lt General Zameeruddin Shah and Principal, Prof Tariq Mansoor. We boarded our flight and reached Kathmandu on 4th May with 20 cartons of medical relief material.

The journey had been a learning experience for us. Since we are medicos, we mainly focused on the health aspects of the earthquake victims. We transferred the medicines and other stuff to 9 big trekking bags, so that we could carry them easily. For each day, we fixed our norm of returning back to our base camp at Kathmandu by night and sleep well, so that we could work for the next whole day. Joining our hands with Jama Masjid, Kathmandu and various other local groups, we started our camping.

Exploring the peripheral rural areas of earthquake hit Nepal, we camped at various sites at Kirtipur, Panga village, Bistai Gaon, Bhaktipur, Machendranath, Ghumar Chowk, Manichood village and Shaku, serving over 4000 people. Out of these, Bistai Gaon, Machendranath and Manichood village were very remote areas, not even connected by roads!! As taxis couldn’t reach such areas, we used to carry those heavy bags on our shoulders to reach them.

Machendranath, a renowned temple, surrounded by a village, situated on a hill top, has been completely destroyed along with the village. The Army is constantly working there to remove the debris. We served more than 1000 patients there, along with many army personnel. We went where no one had, so far, set up any medical relief camp – Manichood Village (situated at top of Manichudsa Hill, 4400 ft above sea level)!! The people that we treated there said that they had never seen such a camp in their area! The taxis gave up at 1500 ft and after that, we trudged up to the village, carrying those heavy bags on our shoulders on those steep slopes.

We mainly encountered patients with post disaster diseases. We carried ample amounts of good quality oral as well injectable antibiotics, dressing materials, crepe bandages, muscle relaxants, painkillers, oral rehydration powder, multivitamins, antitussives, expectorants, masks, gloves and many more, supplied by Aligarh Drug Association. We encountered widespread respiratory and diarrhoeal diseases, myalgias, skin infections, arthritis etc. We also encountered various patients who were taken out of the debris, along with various army people getting injured in their work. Asthma and respiratory discomfort got precipitated in many due to dust from the destruction.

We also learnt the experiences of ‘rebuilding lives’. Even in such crucial times, wherever we went, people welcomed us with lots of love. The warmth and care in those honey teas and noodles were heart touching. Since local people were not able to understand our language, we got many hardworking local volunteers who helped us in crossing this conversation barrier! We saw women removing huge boulders to dig out their loved ones trapped under collapsed houses. They told me, “We have told the government to give us trucks and spades and we will dig our families out!!’’ When I asked one of the volunteers the reason of this much courage, she told me, “I am also the victim, living outside with my family in tents in this cold!! I want to fight for myself and for my people!!” We came through a lot of examples of courage and passion during our journey. We met an old man, Shanu, who had witnessed a massive earthquake in Nepal 80 years ago and now, in 2015. Having survived both quakes, he tells one and all, “Bigadna aur banna, sab dekha hai maine!”

While returning from our camp on the last day, we were given noodles to eat, cooked by a family who was living in tents due to this destruction. When we insisted on giving money for the noodles, they refused to take it and said, “This is out of respect for you!”

We donated our remaining drugs at PHC Shaku and returned back on 8th May. The courageous, cheerful and Never Give Up attitude of people there is commendable! The journey was really an experience of rebuilding lives!

Dr Abhishek Royal

 

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One Response so far.

  1. abhishekroyal2010 says:

    Great job bro,m proud of u touchwood,n best wishes for ur team,commendable

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