Making the Himalayas Accessible
Organized by: Danika Viola
March 13, 2016
EVENT DATE Sep 26, 2016
A fantastic opportunity has been offered to me through Operation Namaste [partnered with the International Development Institute] as both an amputee and an occupational therapist. I've been offered to go on a trip to the Himalayas (Nepal) for 15 days to help assess and promote inclusive and accessible tourism in Nepal. They are sending a group of amputees and medical professionals (prosthetists, physical therapists, and myself) to various areas around Nepal to assess the accessibility and help make it more inclusive for individuals with disabilities! The explanation of why the trip is happening and how Operation Namaste is involved in this is below:
"The recent earthquake [April 2015] unleashed a wave of destruction and trauma to thousands of unsuspecting and innocent people. At this time these people are in dire need of basic life essentials such as food and water. In addition to these basic requirements they are in need of a plethora of medical services. One service in particular that will be required is a comprehensive team based approach to orthopedic and rehabilitation care. Unfortunately at this time it’s impossible to have an accurate estimate of the incidence and type of trauma to these people. Traumatic events such as crush syndromes could lead to a number of long-term disabilities such as amputations. Prompt and comprehensive management of these cases is vital in order to prevent further complications and other physiological and psychological burdens. Unless these individuals receive adequate orthopedic and rehabilitation care they could suffer from a decreased quality of life, placing a major burden on the public health of Nepal.
Our organization is rooted in a passion to provide a continuum of O&P care to the people of Nepal. We have relationships with important figures within the Nepalese government and medical field. It is these relationships that have given us the ability to focus our efforts directly to the source of the need in Nepal. Our trusted partners in Nepal have the power to serve as base stations for distributing O&P services throughout a network of clinics in Nepal, both urban and rural. The people of Nepal were in dire need of services prior to the earthquake. Those needs have increased exponentially as a result of the earthquake. We rely on the continued support of various benefactors and funding agents so that we can provide the essential training and support services to the local Orthotic and Prosthetic clinics. We are strong advocates of sustainability and a lifelong continuum of care for the people of Nepal. By teaching locals how to evaluate, fabricate and deliver services, we believe we are empowering them to be life long providers in Nepal.
A Three-Phase Plan
A three phase approach to providing orthopedic and rehabilitation care is the best method of delivering a long lasting continuum of care for the individuals of Nepal. This health care model places a strong emphasis on firstly identifying incidence through a needs assessment. Then making sure that the affected individuals progress from injury to acute care and finally providing the necessary O&P care and rehabilitation to increase the quality of life and independence of these people.
Previous high-magnitude earthquakes have shown that the incidence and degree of disability could depend on the level of exposure, financial constraints and difficulty traveling to and from health care providers. Numerous other barriers to receiving care could exist in Nepal at this time but without an accurate report of incidence of amputations, crush injuries and spinal cord injuries we can't be certain of the extent of the needs. Our first phase will be a needs assessment that will give us a detailed perspective on the number of cases and level of care needed in urban and rural areas of Nepal.
Phase Two and Three
We will utilize our connections within the Nepal government and medical institutions to provide the necessary post operative, fracture, contracture management and limb health to the individuals identified in the needs assessment. This will also be the beginning of an expansive educational program that will allow us to provide sustainable services in Nepal. We can call upon our work in O&P education to design a curriculum best suited to build upon the needs of local technicians and clinicians. Phase three will be a continuation of education and services to maintain our promise to provide a continuum of care for the people."
While in Nepal, I will be participating in many tourist activities, but also will be involved in several education sessions and meetings about the introduction of accessible tourism to Nepal. We will be trekking almost every day as well!
This is such an important cause for not only Nepal, but for global education and acceptance, and a push for inclusive tourism and travel. I want to help those in Nepal who were affected by the earthquake as much as possible. As an occupational therapist as well as an amputee, this cause is very near and dear to my heart!
The cost breakdown
Lunches (dinner&breakfast are included in the trip cost): $200
Nepal Visa: $25
Personal Expenses: $200
Lost work time*: $2,000
Total Cost: $2,425
*I'm not including my entire paycheck that I'd be missing, but this is what we'd need to keep Alex and I "afloat"- as in, able to pay the mortgage, student loans, cell phone bill, etc.
Please donate whatever you can, or send me lots of love and hugs if you can't! This donation will also be tax-deductible, since it is through Operation Namaste, which has partnered with Prosthetic Hope International, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.