Two years ago, I was blessed enough to be a part of the Hike4Humanity trip to Nepal. At the time, I wasn’t sure what I would find, and the mission ended up being one of fact-finding for me. You see, I’m not a nurse or a physician, but an occupational therapist. While OT is still an often misunderstood and a relatively unknown profession, it covers physical, psychological, and social health, education, holistic intervention, and requires lots of creativity. We try to look at the abilities, barriers, and needs of a person in order to maximize independence. We also look at the physical and social environment.
Previously, the role for an OT on this trip was undefined. But through my specific training and a different mindset from most health professionals, I know exactly what I will focus on to improve the lives of Nepali farmers and their children. Agriculture is a huge industry in Nepal and many of the farming methods used are antiquated. This, combined with an underdeveloped knowledge of body mechanics, causes significant back and knee problems and overuse injuries. With minimal funding, we can affect meaningful and significant change for the rural farmers of Nepal. While this sounds like an easy thing to accomplish, it is not. There are numerous barriers to overcome, including a language barrier, decreased literacy, travel to remote villages, and each major step of the main project. In order to complete this, I will need to “train the trainer” in each village to really understand body mechanics so the concepts can be disseminated and reviewed. Most of all, I plan to minimally adapt farming tools to maintain the Nepali farming culture, yet improve the ergonomics of the tools.
This project has the potential to make a huge impact, and is already receiving positive input from members of the American Occupational Therapy Association, Please assist me in making this project a reality to help Nepali farmers.
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