Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Historic Vote Ends Nepal's Monarchy

Published Date: 29 May 2008 By Russell Jackson NEPAL's political leaders last night voted to abolish the monarchy and declare a republic, ending 239 years of royal rule. Once the resolution is passed, King Gyanendra will have 15 days to leave his pink 1970s-era concrete palace in central Kathmandu.The Maoists, who emerged as the largest party in elections held last month, had led calls to oust the king and create a republic. The former communist rebels signed a peace agreement in 2006 that ended a decade-long insurgency. The proposal, which was opposed by only four members of the 601-seat assembly, states Nepal is "an independent, indivisible, sovereign, secular and inclusive democratic republic nation". Royal privileges "will automatically come to an end", the declaration adds. Last night there was no immediate response from the palace on the vote. Across Kathmandu, young men marched with red flags as Nepalis young and old celebrated.Near the convention centre where the Constituent Assembly was meeting, thousands chanted, "Long live the republic!" . Although the celebrations were largely peaceful, police at one point used tear gas to disperse a crowd that gathered too close to the building."This is the people's victory," former Maoist rebel Kamal Dahal, 22, said. "With today's declaration of a republic, we have achieved what we fought for."The government of the new Nepalese republic is expected to be led by the Maoists.The assembly has two years to come up with permanent arrangements for a new constitution.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Jolien's pics

The internet seems to be working rather well this evening!! So, while I go to someone's house for a meeting, I'll leave it to load up photos!!
A Dutch scientist, named Jolien (pronounced Yo-leen), has come for a month to perform a short study. Over the past few weeks, she has taken some very good pictures. Here are a few. This is the hospital bus returning from a day at clinic. I'm looking out of the window!
Rebekah (center) and her younger sister Elisa came to my house to finish Rebekah's cake for her 13th birthday. She had broken her arm the day before I came back from my trip.
Here are some of the people working in the lab, plus a couple of visitors who wanted training in PCR (the two guys on the far left and the far right). The two girls in the back are graduate students (Prativa and Binita) doing their masters project in the lab. The girl in front (Saraswoti - not the same one who works in my home) is a research assistant in the lab and the man with the mustache is Kapil, who has worked at the hospital since 1979 and with every head of the research lab (est. 1983) that has ever been at Anandaban.
Silwar works in the clinical lab. Here, Silwar is performing some standard tests on patient samples. Although primarily a leprosy hospital, Anandaban also provides general hospital services to the surrounding area.
Kapil collecting patient samples in the hospital. (They are laughing!)
Sometimes, we also have to go to other clinics, like this TB clinic, in order to collect patient samples.
Here, Kapil is freezing patient cell samples in liquid nitrogen so that we can run tests on them later as a group.
Here are Aychut and Dhurba performing a mouse footpad harvest in the clinical lab. This test allows us to check if a patient has a drug resistant form of leprosy; however, it takes 6m-1yr to properly complete. Research has identified a faster method, but it is currently far too expensive and technical to practically use in the field. So, we have to use mice...
Here are four of the men who also work in the lab or take care of the mice. They do an excellent job.
Jolien took this picture while looking into the bus before we went to Kathmandu to perform a clinic. The pile is medical records and supplies needed to serve the patients. That's me sitting next to the pile!

During clinic, two new graduate students from a local university came to discuss possible projects for next year.

WARNING: somewhat graphic wound photo is next! Don't worry, I will probably never post the really bad ones.

Leprosy patients can lose the ability to feel in affected areas, often the hands and feet. It is common for patients to come in with wounds from rats that come during the night. Sometimes these patients live alone. The patient does not feel it and is unaware until they notice the wound afterwards. This man's toes and heel had been knawed on by a rat(s). Dr. Paul Brand used to recommend giving these patients a kitten. What is sad, is that this patient may have been cured years ago; however, the nerve damage from the disease can cause permanent or ongoing problems.

During clinic, patients come from all over Nepal. This man was particularly hard of hearing but our dr's tried to find some way to communicate. He just smiled and said he still could not hear them!

During a national holiday (everyone was off from work), Jolien also visited a leprosy colony on the other side of the valley. I have not been there yet. Here are a couple of the people who live there. Saraswoti and Jolien (who took all of these pics). Jolien will leave next Thursday to return to Holland.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

What is Beautiful?

Every heard the saying "beauty is in the eye if the beholder". It's true. In the US, certain colors are fashionable. Certain jewelry. Certain mannerisms. Put them together and there is the cultural ideal of what is beautiful and what is not. In Nepal, a nose stud is beautiful. Most women and girls have them along with multiple ear piercings. Earrings are more common amongst men and boys. Showing the midrif for women wearing a sari is entirely acceptable. Cleavage is not. Dots strategically placed have great meaning. A child placed yellow petals on my head and said it was beautiful. Marigold petals are used in worship by the hindus. You will see men walking about with a single petal at the top of their head or tucked behind their ear. Garlands of flowers mean great honor. In my culture, soft colors can be beautiful. Here, when I bought sheets or towels of gentler hues...the people here did not think them so beautiful. They looked old. Bright, blaring colors in a land of hand laundry appropriately indicates new "beautiful" purchases. So, I'm learning what is beautiful here. Sometimes what I wear and do would be "beautiful" in my country, but not here. I have to learn. As Christians, we live in the world, but not of it. We are born into a different culture while remaining in this one. God's definition of what is beautiful is different. We have to learn to suit Him even if that is different from what we've known. There are things a Christian is to clothe himself in, that the natives will not find attractive or "beautiful". God's bride, the church, is being clothed to suite Him; but when He was here in the flesh, those very attributes led Him to be despised and rejected by the culture of this world. What does God find beautiful? Which cultures acceptance do you have? Which one will you seek? When you see Him face to face, will you suite Him? Will you be like Him? Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fear the Lord, she shall be praised. Provers 31:30 P.S. What would you say if I came back with a nose stud? :)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Why we are not going to Patan Clinic today

Occasionally, there are strikes and protests called bandhs (nepali for closing). All roads are shut down by protestors. Today Kathmandu is shut down for another one. So, today we cannot travel into town for the weekly leprosy clinic there nor will most of the patients needing it be able to access public transport to get there. This is why this time: