Vitality’s visit to Nepal

null Having seen our work at CRP, Bangladesh go from strength to strength, Vitality was invited out to attend the 14th ASCON Conference in Nepal, to meet our colleagues from CRP to review our progress after the last three years and to meet the team at the Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre in Nepal to see if our work could make a difference to the lives of people affected by spinal cord injury in Nepal. I loaded up my rucksack and walking boots, which were last used in Nepal 16 years ago with excitement and trepidation as the lone representative of Vitality in early Dec 2015. I was greeted with the expected organised chaos as I stepped off the plane.  Another conference attendee had taken my taxi and so I waited and chatted to the inquisitive locals as another taxi was organised.  This was a feat in itself as Nepal has most of its borders closed with India stopping the flow of gas and oil since the earthquake happened back in May.  With little petrol and a thriving black market, using a car or bus it is quite a feat to get into Kathmandu.  But even this set back does not test the resilience of the Nepalese people – a theme that ran through my whole trip. null The team at SIRC were immensely proud to be hosting the international conference to over 400 delegates in the same year as experiencing an earthquake.  Hearing the stories of staff working through the crisis whilst their own homes and families were at risk, the total focus on patient safety, despite the chaos and uncertainty of the after math and the vision, planning and creativity and pragmatism of the staff and volunteers at the time was awe inspiring. In a matter of days, SIRC grew from around 50 patients to over 140!  Just getting hold of new beds was a challenge, let alone staffing and medical supplies, but the UN described the way in which Nepal handled the crisis as a ‘blue print for other major disasters around the world.’ My brief was to meet key staff at SIRC and ascertain if Vitality’s work would make a difference to the lives of people affected by spinal cord injury in Nepal.  I met with a wide variety of professionals, not just from Nepal, but from the UK, Canada and Ireland all working towards a common purpose.  I was struck by the sophistication of the work, the focus on individual’s quality of life and the passion with which everyone works, including the charismatic founder Kanak Mani Dixit. It’s a month after my return and Lucy and I are liaising with the staff team at SIRC, keen to get approval for our work to start later this year.  We shall keep you posted on our progress as we start to fundraise for our latest project. Louise Wright Chair of Trustees, Vitality

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