When you are living in the shadow of the Himal, it is difficult to find much that rivals it in beauty. There is this certain clarity that resonates in me when I can go to the rooftop of the clinic and see those enormous snow capped peaks in the distance. It’s like, just for a moment, everything else pales in comparison. That sight can jumpstart me at any point of the day or wipe things clean from my brain when I need a fresh canvas with which to reevaluate the moment. All my problems, the ailments of my patients and the realities of their situations and the challenges of my surrounds living in Nepal fall away, and I am left with simple natural beauty. It is there and available to anyone who cares to raise their head and look, no matter of their race, caste, or financial status. It is a transcendent type of beauty that can be shared by all.
Vajra Varahi Clinic is a platform of this caliber of beauty in the town of Chapagaon, Nepal. When people come here they not only receive health care, but also strengthen their own communities. It is not uncommon for one patient to overhear another patients inability to get to the clinic on a certain day and offer to make an appointment on the same day for which that patient needs to return in order to help them get back to the clinic for their next treatment. I am honored to be part of this clinic and this community, if only for a short time. Whenever someone here in Nepal asks where I am from, I always proudly say Chapagaon. It gives me the same feeling as when I talk about my own small town that I will be returning to after this experience. It instills a sense of solidarity in me towards this place and its people whom have taken me in as their own, taught me so much and kept me safe as I have explored what it has meant to live here and become a more experienced practitioner. As volunteers here, our fund raising provides supplies to help the clinic remain open. In this way, treatments are offered to the public at a nominal fee and access to primary health care is more widely available.
Of course, not all days are clear. Sometimes the sky is hazy for a stretch of several days and we must rely on what we have learned in the past and our intuition to guide us. It's during these periods that we are challenged the most and we truly get to explore how tensile our brains really are. Most days stretch the boundaries of our flexibility. It’s in these times, in between the clear skies, that we are cultivating the beauty that will arrive in us when the clouds part.
The experience of living in Chapagaon and treating more patients in a day than I ever imagined has been invigorating and exciting. I have had the opportunity here to explore my role as an acupuncture provider and practitioner of Chinese Medicine. Every single day, I am inspired by the hard work and dedication of the interpreters in which we work alongside. In such a short period of time, it has become difficult to imagine day to day life without them. Seeing their smiling faces each morning will be one of the things I miss the most. Their kindness and understanding has kept me going long into each afternoon. As the patients faces also become more familiar, their humor and guile remind me not to take myself so seriously. It is that connection with them and their right to health care that I recommit myself to each day.
The time here has allowed me to reconnect with my place as a member of this world community. To remember and re-experience the realities of how a majority of people on this planet live. In this way remembering the essence of my human existence, hardship, and pure joy. At the same time that I am grateful for this awareness, I am sad that it is necessary or can be so easily forgotten by myself. My hope is that I have in some small way contributed a fraction of what has been blessed to me during my life thus far. I promise my patients that I will take back the lessons they have taught me and use them to treat many more people during my lifetime. The faith that they have had in me has been the most beautiful gift of all and has enabled me to transition with more confidence onto the next chapter of my life. It will always be with me, helping to guide me on my way when my vision is obstructed, until I can once again have clarity and glimpse beauty, like the mountains, once more. ---Jennifer Walker