Today was much of the same as yesterday as we wrapped up our medical camp in the small rural village of Mankhu. On Nepali time, we again rose relatively early, ate breakfast, and lazed about throughout the morning, until around 10:30 when we started setting up for Day 2 of the clinic. Life in Nepal seemed to be slow-paced and generally relaxed. Nepalis tended to treat set times as more approximate and to use time in the morning and evening to relax while saving the middle bulk of the day for hard work. This was quite different from the constant rush and movement of the American lifestyle, a change I found refreshing.
It happened that a nationwide strike had been called for this day, urging businesses to close for the day and people to not work. As a result, the local school of the village was closed, and our camp was swamped with children. The kids who normally came to the farm for English lessons hung around, as well as many of the kids from the surrounding area who, looking for something to do with their free day, came for a checkup themselves or to accompany a family member. It struck me how happy these kids seemed to be, despite not having a fraction of the resources enjoyed by the typical middle-class American child. They still played among themselves in a rowdy and creative fashion, but instead of with fancy toys and bikes they used the world and materials around them to entertain themselves. In between helping with the clinic and interviewing clinic visitors, I played with the kids and was lucky to experience this first hand. I tossed a hacky-sac sized ball with a little girl, but instead of a hacky-sac or ball it was a particularly firm patch of grass that had the same effect on the child’s grins. I talked to another young girl, who explained to me the rules of a strategic pick-up game she had devised herself involving simply several rocks and her imagination. At one point, a group of girls gathered Lillian, Courtney and I and braided our hair, exclaiming afterwards that we looked “beautiful!” (They did do a good job!).
Overall, the clinic proved a success. Even more people visited on the second day, bringing the total to over 200 Nepalis seen by the two doctors. As the people in this area are very spread out, many of these people will have walked miles in order to get to our camp and receive proper treatment and medication. It's not an easy life, but people do seem to freely find their own happinesses here. - Caitlin