The mountains surrounding Reckong Peo and the Ropa Valley make an almost surreal backdrop to the medical work that a local non-government organization is doing with the people who live among them. I was to spend just over a week with them documenting their work and the culture of the Kinnauri people. This post focuses on the work of the medical clinics themselves.
It all begins with an intake process where the patient’s needs are assessed. In the following image a woman explains her symptoms to a national worker who will then assign the patient a number and send them for lab work if necessary.
The medical workers set up the first clinic in the village of Giabong in the Ropa Valley. This clinic draws patients from Giabong, Ropa and Sunam villages. The medical workers treated on average between 80-100 patients per day.
The makeshift lab is set up in a classroom building and stays busy throughout the mornings.
The patients gather outside the doors of the medical worker’s office, anxiously awaiting their turns as the wait grows longer each day.
After completing the work in the Ropa Valley the clinic moves on to Nesang Village, which takes the team once again along a Himalayan highway. Roadwork is continually being done on the routes along the Sutlej River as the harsh winters create a perpetual need of road improvements. In the following image a dust storm is created when workers drill deep into rock in order to widen the highway.
Too hot to wait out the roadwork in the vehicle, a medical worker ducks behind a vehicle to avoid the worst of the dust.
There is one steel bridge that connects Nesang Village to the highway. One villager proudly told me that the bridge has withstood two massive floods that would have washed their old bridges away. Here, a school bus makes its way across the Sutlej River.
After a climb along snake-like roads from the river to over 10,000 feet in elevation, a worker emerges from the jeep a bit dirty and road weary.
The setting in Nesang Village was spectacular. In the following image a young girl walks across a rooftop near one of the village monasteries.
A national worker visits with a patient to assess her needs.
The patients were also given eye exams and new glasses as needed. In this image a schoolgirl is being given an eye exam.
In the following image one of the medical workers consults with a boy and his mother concerning his treatment.
While many of the patients were Kinnauri, the historic people group of the region, other patients were Nepali laborers or others who had married into the village. Here, women from two different people groups await their turn.
While there were hard cases that workers diagnosed, cases like throat cancer and growing blindness, there were also moments of great levity. This older woman was one of my favorites. In the following two images she is explaining how without the translator (on the right) she has absolutely no idea what the medical worker just told her. As she departs she speaks the only two words she’s learned in English, “Thank you!”
One could only come away impressed by the heart with which the medical workers provided care. Young and old alike were given individual time and attention amidst long, tiring days.
We were soon on the way back to Reckong Peo, fresh memories in hand, wondering where the road might lead next…Follow @nomadruss