Tell us about the community that you engage? eg. economic conditions, political structures, norms and values, demographic trends, history, and experience with engagement efforts.
Since 2008, Nepal has been a democratic republic, searching for a stable Prime Minister to guide the completion of a constitution. The Kathmandu Valley contains the highest population density in the country, about 20% of the total population. Residents are mostly subsistence farmers, agricultural and migrant workers, handicraft workers and Tibetan refugees. Their lives are physically very hard. They are generally poor, malnourished and overworked. Most Nepalis earn USD $400 a year or less. There is no system of social welfare and Nepalis lack easy access to primary healthcare. Hypertension is a leading cause of morbidity, and other chronic or preventable conditions such as Diabetes Mellitus, Tuberculosis, and Arthritis severely diminish quality and length of life. “It is the actual extended families, and network of friends, among Nepalis who are relied upon for providing what [healthcare that] the state has, as of yet, failed to adequately provide,” from a 2010 study of unmet health care needs in Nepal. MMW works within local Buddhist monasteries where there is established trust with the local community and people are already accustomed to seeking medical services. The local people have much respect for monks and MMW’s monastic partners have strongly embraced MMW in order to give better service to local people.
Share the story of the founder and what inspired the founder to start this project
I have firsthand knowledge of the need for and success rates of TCM in under-served populations. After graduating from TCM School, I volunteered at a TCM and midwifery clinic in Bali for four months, successfully using TCM to treat patients with hypertension, stroke, cerebral palsy, seizures, and debilitating pain. The patients there often had no other options for health care due to its prohibitive expense, and TCM filled the need for low-cost care. I then volunteered for six months at an integrative clinic in Nepal, where I had lived for a year in 2003. By the end of my second week at the clinic, I was seeing fifty patients a day, helping people return to work after chronic pain, walk again after stroke, and administer physical therapy to their aging parents. Through my work with these patients, their lives changed quickly and tangibly for the better, and I realized that these communities needed year-round, primary care from practitioners with a focus on preventive medicine and overall health. They needed medical care that would become an integral part of the community that people could rely on everyday.