POKHARA TO GHANDRUK
Spirits were at an all-time high as we embarked on our journey from Kathmandu to the clinic in Ghandruk. We were eager to get in and see the state of the dental clinic since we’d last visited in 2018. Skies were clear and the flight was nice and smooth (we had our fingers crossed the entire 20-minute flight) from Kathmandu to Pokhara. Once we’d touched down, we met with the clinic staff – Sandhya and Robina – and picked up some equipment before starting the 4-hour drive to Ghandruk.
The roads from Pokhara to Ghandruk have come a long way since we last visited (or so we were told) and our two Jeeps were going to drop us right up to the station in Ghandruk. Our first (literal) obstacle was hit about 3 hours into the journey where we found that the roads were blocked due to recent landslides.
So, we hopped out and trekked about 20 minutes to where another jeep was waiting to pick us up. This time, all of us piled into one Jeep (see below) and made the short trip into town. We were greeted with flower garlands and smiles from the Mother’s Group and the health assistants from the clinic.
The biggest test – did we have enough supplies and was our equipment working. Up until now, Loc had a lot of pent-up stress about finding out (just ask Laura and John).
With the help of fellow volunteers – Shelly, Helen, Anneke, the Ghandruk clinic staff and our Nepalese dentist Dr Bibhor – set-up was a breeze! 2 dental units up and running, stock take completed and a quick rundown on procedures with our helpers and the day was done – we were hopeful that this was a good omen for how smooth the clinic was going to run.
We’d spoken too soon.
The morning ran smoothly. Laura was manning the triage station, Helen did RAT’s for patients needing fillings and patients were sent up to Loc and Dr Bibhor for treatment. By mid-morning, we’d gotten into a steady pace! That is, until one of our dental units had decided it had had enough. A large BANG and a pile of smoke and suddenly, we were down to one working unit.
Luckily, with the rallying of Loc and Dr Bibhor and a few thousand AUD, we secured a new unit that would arrive in a few days’ time. Despite the hiccup, we still treated 42 patients all up.
With one unit down, the clinic was frantic today. To make matters worse, the hydro-electric station was down meaning that there was no electricity throughout the entire village.
We powered through (pun intended) and still saw 52 patients, completing 36 extractions and 47 fillings.
A bit of miscommunication led us to believe that Monday’s were the recognised weekend for the Nepalese. And so, we’d planned a rest day for today as we didn’t expect many patients to come – who wants to go to the dentist on the weekend?
We came to find out that this was not the case as patients started to file into the clinic. We ended up seeing 30 patients today – 29 teeth were extracted, and 19 fillings were done.
The cold weather had gotten the best of Laura so she was out with a cold today. Loc and Dr Bibhor were left to pick up the slack. Today they saw 36 patients in total.
The afternoon brought a lot of excitement as the new dental unit had arrived (thankfully in one piece) from Pokhara. Hooray!
More to come…