Coming to Pokhara, Nepal was the best decision I made when scheduling my last year of medical school. I came with 3 other students from my school in the US to the house in Damside filled with students from all over the world. Future nurses, midwives, dentists, pharmacists, and medics living in a beautiful house, eating delicious food, and exploring a city rich in culture.
In a few months I will begin a residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. I was lucky enough to be placed at a 72-bed missionary hospital begun by the International Nepali Federation (INF) to provide for people with Leprosy. In 2008, Nepal reached it's goal of Leprosy elimination (1 in 10,000). So over time it has become a sanctuary for people with chronic disability from leprosy, spinal cord injury, stroke, and amputation. The campus includes physical therapy, occupational therapy, social work and support, nurses and doctors available for assistance, therapy, and family training. As a medical student, I worked with the house officers during rounds, skin clinic, neuritis clinic, and minor surgeries (debridement and amputations). The therapists love having an observer and an extra pair of hands and the nurses are happy to have a student help with dressings. The kindness and camaraderie amongst the staff is like that of a family ready to open it's arms to any learner. A hidden gem on campus is the craft shop, where previous patients are taught how to make bags and accessories for sale to the public. Great gift idea!
Pokhara has so much to offer. We enjoyed paragliding over Pokhara, rafting through Upper Seti, yoga at Lakeside, and Sarangkot at sunrise... All in the first week! It's a simple hike to the World Peace Pagoda from the path next to the house, come down towards Lakeside and take a canoe across Phewa lake, stopping at the Hindu temple in the middle of the lake. Best price on jewelery is outside of Devi's Fall. By far the most memorable thing we did was trek up to Poon Hill. We took a 4 day route. At every turn there is another breath taking view. I cannot recommend it enough. Three in our group had never trekked before, and loved it.
The Village Healthcare Experience was unforgettable. Nestled in the peaceful foothills of Pokhara valley and a former stop on the Annapurna circuit, it's full of character. The people are wonderful and welcoming. In clinic we learned just how differently things are done when resources are not available. In the village we learned how to maximize natural resources and decrease waste. Nalma has fueled a hidden desire of mine to start a garden. We were house guests at Aama and Baba's sweet home and soon felt like family. Don't plan on losing weight here (and this is coming from an American! The last day, Aama dressed us in traditional Gurung clothes and we danced in the courtyard while her and another Aama sang. Baba and Aama almost fell over in laughter.