16.9.09

Hello from Kathmandu!


Namaste!  Hello from Kathmandu, Nepal.  You may be asking yourself, “What is John doing in Nepal?  I thought he was going to Africa?  Maybe he got on the wrong flight.”  False . . . although highly probable.
Last year I met Dr. Geoff Tabin at an ophthalmology conference focusing on sustainable eye care in the developing world.  In our little sphere of eyeball nerds, he’s kind of like our version of Dr. Paul Farmer of Mountains Beyond Mountains.  Over twenty years ago while summating Everest, Dr. Tabin ran into Sir Edmund Hillary.  At this point, Sir Hillary was opening schools and hospitals in the Himalayas for the Sherpa people.  (You don’t get knighted by Queen Elizabeth to just sit on your laurels.)  Sir Hillary convinced Dr. Tabin to stay in Nepal and assist with the immense medical needs.  It was during this time that he witnessed a Dutch ophthalmic team help a woman regain her sight after years of blindness from cataracts.  Dr. Tabin discovered his calling.  
He returned to the U.S. for an ophthalmology residency at Brown, completed a cornea fellowship in Melbourne, Australia, and then headed back to Nepal.  Upon his return, he met Dr. Ruit, a Nepalese ophthalmologist.  They made a pact to eradicate preventable blindness from Nepal in their lifetimes.  Over the past twenty years, they have developed a model of sustainable eye care to do just that.  Their NGO, the Himalayan Cataract Project, is carrying on work all over Asia and now Africa.  
So, when Dr. Tabin asked if I’d like to join him in Nepal, I jumped at the opportunity to learn from him and the talented Nepali staff at Tilganga Eye Center in Kathmandu.  Over the past two weeks, I’ve been learning their sutureless, small incision cataract surgery technique as well as how they run a sustainable, effective eye program.  It has been great.
As always, flexibility has been needed.  Just before I left the States, I found out that Dr. Tabin was not going to make it to Nepal until the very end of my trip.  Upon my arrival, I learned that the director as well as the head surgeon of the cataract surgery course were both out of the country!  And guess what?  It was also time for the national holidays!  The whole team is now back in country, and I’m excited for an even richer learning experience for the last ten days of my time here.
I’d covet your prayers for strength as Jessica and I prepare for moving our family to Africa while being on opposite sides of the world.  God knew I needed an amazing wife like Jess to make it through life!  I am also trying to coordinate all of the surgical instruments and supplies that will be needed for an effective O.R. in Kenya.  Lastly, pray that I will learn all that God intends for me while I’m here in Nepal, both professionally and personally. 


Top Photo:  Ancient Hindu temple -- cremation ceremony on steps of river is the source of smoke

Middle Photo:  Religious "beggars" outside temple

Bottom Photo:  Outreach eye screening camp in hillside village outside of Kathmandu (I'm the tall white guy in the back!)

1 comment:

Valerie said...

Thanks for the update! Know that you guys are on our hearts and minds as you leave for Africa! Will be praying!