One year ago, November, 11th 2008, Acupuncture Relief Project helped open the Vajra Varhi Natural Healthcare Clinic, here in Chapagaon. The day before the doors opened we all sat around wondering if anyone from the village would even show up. How would this community embrace us and our strange medicine. Now a year later ARP has provided over 10,000 acupuncture treatments to this rural Newari and Nepali village. The clinic continues to grow and serves upward of 400 patients per week. Some walking up to 5 hours to reach the clinic. In addition to acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine the clinic now has practitioners who practice Tibetan herbal medicine and homeopathy. The clinic has also hosted two dental camps.

In celebration of the one year anniversary of our partnership with and opening of the Vajra Varahi Clinic we had a big party and invited the village to come sing and dance with us. We were inundated by gifts of sweets, pickled foods and other tasty treats. We had a local Newari folk band whose drums had everyone on their feet and a spread of food that won't soon be forgotten. After the last of our friends had retired for the evening I was struck by the sense of community involvement that lingered. A sense that this clinic had not only served the community but now was  something that actually belonged to them. Something to care about, nurture and protect. I don't think anyone in the western world can imagine how important a community clinic can be to a place that is without basic healthcare. Even a place as simple as our clinic where the community can get health advise, have their health conditions and medications explained to them and receive basic effective treatment for a wide variety of conditions makes a huge difference in the quality of life here.

After our celebration we had to say goodbye to our Camp A clinic team. Heidi, Jennie, Allydreth and Nikole all did remarkable work here and have many amazing stories of their experiences and clinical outcomes. Their last few days here were marked with many tears as their patients and interpreters said goodbye. They will be missed. I personally enjoyed working with and getting to know each of these talented and compassionate practitioners. They diligently struggled through their first confusing and frustrating weeks to emerge as confident and competent field clinicians. I hope they will seize the opportunity to reflect on all of the things they have contributed to this community and also the things this community contributed to them. I sincerely wish them success in their future practices. – Andrew

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