by Johan Petter Andresen
The Health Team for Nepal was formed in 2006. The aim of the Health Team project is to help poor people in rural areas of Nepal. The Health Team for Nepal cooperates with the medical department of the People’s Liberation Army in order to attain this goal. The health team for Nepal consists of two parts: medical specialists and a support group.
The specialists have a program to train approximately 20 medics based on a course developed by progressive Norwegian surgical specialists. The curriculum is based on two books: Save Lives Save Limbs and War Surgery. As part of this project we have sent 50 copies of each in English and the books are also being translated into Nepali. The training course takes 18 to 24 months to complete and contains three intense training sessions. The surgeon Hans Husum and specialist nurse Merete Taksdal have completed the first course together with PLA medics and medical staff at Gorneti Model Hospital in Rolpa in November 2006.
The second course is scheduled for October 2007. The support group collects money needed for the project and spreads information about the democratic revolution in Nepal. So far we have collected approximately 2,200,000 (NRS). Of this we have used 150,0000 (NRS). In order to complete the project we will be collecting another 800, 000 (NRS) (about US$11,000) within the next nine months. The health team support group has held audiovisual lectures at about 14 schools and approximately 15 mass meetings in various cities in Norway.
In order to strengthen our understanding of the situation in Rolpa where Gorneti Model Hospital is located, and to get a better understanding of the political development in Nepal, we arranged a group trip to Nepal this summer. Seventeen participants from Norway and two journalists from the Swedish revolutionary weekly The Proletarian arrived in Kathmandu at the end of June. We have been well taken care of by the health department of CPN(M) and traveled to Gorneti Model Hospital via Ghorahi and Tila.
At Gorneti Model Hospital we studied mainly four questions: The history of the construction of the hospital and how it organizes its daily routines, the role and the impact of the hospital on the local community that consists of approximately 20,000 people, the role of women in the hospital and the situation of female patients, and the role of the hospital in the general political development. The staff at the hospital are terrific people who work 24 hours a day for very low wages to develop the health of the people in the district, and they all have a very well developed consciousness of their tasks. We were very impressed by how well the hospital functioned in an area with no modern infrastructure or advanced facilities. We were also treated much too well by our hosts.
After Gorneti we went to Tila and spoke with the PLA leadership about the situation of the brigade there and new developments in the local area. I had visited Tila in November 2005 and could see that there were improvements:
The Martyr’s Road was built even further, the road from Tila towards Ghorahi was improved, sanitary facilities were better, water pipes were bigger, and the roofs of some houses were better. I was also told that Tila would be getting electricity in several months.
On the following day, we went to the cantonment at Dahaban. Here we checked out the much talked about weapons containers and had talks with the Leadership of the Fifth division of the PLA. We also had time for volleyball games with some PLA soldiers. The main things we learnt in the talks with the PLA are that they are working systematically to fulfill the tasks that the peace process has set for them and that they are very eager to see that the Constituent Assembly elections are attained in a fair and free manner. It seemed to us that they have a good and relaxed relationship with the UN staff.
In Ghorahi, we talked to local people including a Newar who told us about the fate of the Newars under Prithvin Narayan Shah and the goals of the Newars today. We also met with a local businessman that explained why he hoped that the political process taking place would have a positive impact on the economic development of Dang and that he felt the main problem today was corruption. We also spoke to local youths and representatives of women’s organizations and participated in a demonstration against the celebration of King Gyanendra’s birthday. We are now in Kathmandu and are having meetings with Maoist organizations, CPN(UML), trade unions, women’s organizations and the Norwegian embassy. And doing tourist things.
With all the material we have collected in the form of interviews, photos, and film footage, we will produce a magazine and a film. We will sell these in Norway and let the profits go to the Health Team project.
We held a summary meeting recently and all the participants said that this trip has been much better than they expected.
We will be leaving for home on the 15th of July. We will bring home a million impressions, thousands of answers to questions we had before we arrived, and a hundred new questions that pop up as we learn new things every day. We have met very many self-sacrificing women and men, who have endured extreme hardship in the people’s war and who are continuing the struggle today for a federal democratic republic.
While we were in Gorneti, we asked the staff to write up a list of medical instruments that they lacked. And we had a meeting in our group to discuss if we could try to strengthen our collection campaign in the coming months so that we could buy the medical instruments while we’re still here in Kathmandu. We all pledged to increase our work to collect the funds necessary. It gives us a good feeling to see the many cartons of material that we now have purchased, which will be transported to the hospital tomorrow. The reason we are developing this concrete solidarity work is not because the Nepalese are poor, but because we know that, if the democratic revolution in Nepal is successful, then this will have an international impact and also help common people in Norway in their struggle. A victory for common folk in Nepal is a victory for common folk everywhere.
July 12, 2007