The latest news update from our BMS link missionaries Alan and Megan Barker out in Nepal
Greetings one and all from the proud owner of a work visa. It was granted on 24th April 2019 and doesn't expire until 3rd April 2020. Such a relief as we came so close to the deadline. Also, so thankful that it is not backdated (I was expecting it to run from January to end of December). However, there is still a way to go in that I still need to get a registration certificate from the Nepal Health Professions Council before I can do any direct patient contact work. As with the visa, it can be a drawn out process.
Last time we wrote, I (Megan) told you about our recent trip to Surkhet. This time, as I write, we have again just returned from Surkhet. It is such a privilege to be able to make these regular trips, despite the travel involved. On average it is a 12-hour road trip each way (about 310 miles). This time it took 16.5 hours to get home! This will be part of my regular routine as my job description continues to be developed. My main role is to be 'Occupational Therapy Coordinator' for the INF hospitals, based at the one in Pokhara called Green Pastures, but also going out to the ones in Surkhet and Nepalgunj, called Shining Hospital Banke and Shining Hospital Surkhet. My other role is as 'Outreach Rehabilitation Coordinator' which means helping with community follow-up work across INF. So, my current task is to help write a rehabilitation strategy for all the INF work in the field of disability. That should keep me out of mischief for a while.
The other good news is that on Monday 27th May, the young lady INF sent for training five years ago, whom we have mentioned in past newsletters, will finally join the OT team at Green Pastures Hospital. I will be her mentor. Her name is Dorothy and she comes from a place called Nepalgunj which is a long way from Pokhara. Mind you, she has spent the last seven years in India doing A-Level equivalent studies followed by her OT studies! Pray for her that she will quickly settle in and find her place in the team, both with the OTs and with the wider hospital team, but especially those involved in rehabilitation work. We are really looking forward to welcoming her. She did come and spend some time with us last year on her summer break and was so lovely in her relationships with our patients, as you can see from the smile on this lady's face. Dorothy is the one in pink!
Over to Alan…With Megan's visa finally being granted, it means we can relax for a little while on that topic at least! Her visa lasting until next April does present us with a situation we have never had before, in that we are now on two different timescales for our visas. Mine expires in June this year! We are hoping that this will not present a problem, but we will have to cross that bridge if we come to it.Things remain very varied in my work. Hira, my new colleague, is settling in very well and we are currently working on several different project proposals to present to donors. Palliative Care developments in Pokhara, leprosy work across INF, community disaster resilience, community rehabilitation, and training in obstetric fistula awareness and treatment. In this work we often come across the word 'stigma'. Leprosy, obstetric fistula, spinal cord injury, strokes, cerebral palsy and many other conditions for which INF provides services are all 'stigmatising conditions'. That means if someone has one of those conditions, they are likely to be rejected by family and society. Children can be hidden away and ignored. Adults can be expelled from their communities at worst, at best they are allowed to stay but are shunned and excluded. If you want to see something of this check out 'Mayako Naya Sari' (Maya's New Sari) on Youtube (watch video here) . It's about a lady suffering from an obstetric fistula, and if you don't know what one of those is, you'll find that on the film too!
In our work helping people with stigmatising conditions, an important part that has to be built in to the projects is that we also have to address attitudes and beliefs as well as addressing the condition itself. While you are watching Youtube, check out the most recent film about another area of work where I've helped to write proposals and reports: watch the video here (just 3 minutes).
Sometimes it feels a bit removed from the 'coal face' when I'm sitting in my office writing a report or working on a proposal, but when I'm able to think about the individuals that I'm reporting about (like the real life Mayas, or the people better prepared for a disaster), it keeps me focused on what I'm here for!
We had a lovely time over Easter with Gemma coming to visit along with husband, Silas, and his parents. God is good: we all get along really well. We went on a short trek together and were blessed with amazing views. However, you may notice that Gemma is not as slim as she used to be! We are looking forward to welcoming our next grandchild into the world around the end of August/beginning of September! We will head to Switzerland to meet her 2nd September and will stay till 18th. Then we will travel to UK for Megan's Dad's 90th Birthday weekend before returning to Nepal.
The rest of the family are also doing well. We are so grateful for the ability to have regular contact. God bless technology!
For those of you who pray give thanks for:
• Megan's visa!
• Dorothy starting in the OT department in Pokhara
• Several positive donor and supporter visits recently
• Megan's medical registration
• Dorothy to settle in well and for good team work together
• Alan's new 'Partnership and Communications Department' to become a strong and supportive team
Thank you as always for your ongoing support
Alan and Megan