The Dedication Ceremony - 5 December 2013

Just a few hours before the dedication ceremony, many of us witnessed the sun rising over Pokhara and Green Pastures from the top of nearby Sarangkot

Mike Smith's speech at the Dedication Ceremony on 5th December 2013

Lukas Eberle's speech at the Dedication Ceremony on 5th December 2013

Speech by Dr Ganga (Prem) Subedi, Executive Director INF Nepal and Pastor Grishna Parajuli's (Chairman INF Nepal) blessing - 5th December 2013

Ear Hospital

Thomas Meier, INF engineer, on a visit to the proposed site for the ear hospital. He explains to the INF leadership team the positioning of the recent test bore holes and the ground plan for the buildings. Painted white stones marked the corners of the audiology, administration, outpatient, ward and theatre wings as well as outbuildings for kitchen and laundry. The visit gave a chance for all to visualise the size of the buildings, the views of the Annapurna mountains to the north, the sun direction and how to minimise noise from approach roads, generator and patient traffic.

Enjoy a virtual 3D tour of the new hospital created from our architect's plans.

Ear Camps

Twenty-six seconds chronicling one hour in an Ear Camp Out-Patients Department, Pokhara November 2013.

Joy Rosenberg's beautiful and haunting photo-essay of the April 2013 Chainpur Ear Camp. It is about 17 minutes long but well worth watching right through to the end!

To reach the ear camps, especially when there were times of political unrest it was necessary to take flights, by small plane or helicopter. This is quicker but very expensive so whenever possible we travel by road. Some flights are spectacular and very exciting, with magnificent views of the Himalaya, such as Api and Saipal Himal. We often work in the district centres, in valleys, out of sight of the snowy peaks , so it is wonderful to see them on the journeys in and out of the area.

The airstrip at Juphal is at an altitude of 2,543 metres. It is an awe inspiring flight to the gravel airstrip. We had an ear camp at Dunai, a long walk down from the airfield. On the return journey up the hill to the airport in the hot sun some team members resorted to riding on ponies.

The road journeys can be no less thrilling than the air flights. Most district centres now have some form of motor-able road, at least outside the monsoon season (June till September). Many such roads are under constant repair and may cross rivers, landslides and other obstacles. They are gradually extending and getting better tarmac/pitch surfaces, but most areas outside the district centres are still only accessible on foot.

A lady with a fistula behind her ear resulting from many years of infection and abscesses finally has a chance for treatment. She has walked for many hours to the hospital, slept on a bazaar floor or even out in the open on a cold night, queued patiently to be seen in outpatients, then again for a hearing test and now finally for her operation. The operation will remove the hole and repair the mastoid bone, eardrum and as far as possible the hearing. This should make the ear safe from further infection, smelly discharge, pain and the risk of problems like meningitis or brain abscess. It will take time to heal but finally she will have relief after many years, probably going back to early childhood. She bravely walks past the other nearby operation tables; while Rabi the technician shields her eyes from those operations with her medical notes She climbs on to the table and awaits the first injections of sedative and local anaesthetic. The operation will take about 2 ½ -3 hours. All went well and we have every expectation that she will make a good recovery with at least some restoration of hearing. It was possible to place an ossicular prosthesis implant in her middle ear as part of the reconstruction.

Charlie Collins, consultant anaesthetist, has extensive experience of anaesthesia in low resource environments. He is a long term ear camp volunteer, he has also worked in zonal and regional hospitals in western Nepal, and in Kathmandu, and Bangladesh.. When the ear camps started there were no monitors available and his simple innovation allowed the anaesthetist to monitor a sedated patient’s respiratory rate, even when attending another patient nearby, it remains a useful aid today.

On the final day of the ear camp all the patients who had major ear surgery gather. They are checked and their dressings are changed. They are divided into groups according to type of surgery then receive instructions on post-operative care. They are given enough medicines to cover the post op weeks.

After providing the medicines we give patients an advice leaflet and go through it carefully item by item. We try to ensure they and their relatives fully understand. There are always many questions including some amusing ones and although a few patients are naturally nervous the atmosphere is always relaxed and happy.

Eka Dev Devkota, longstanding ear camp coordinator carefully explains to the 150 patients who had ear surgery in Burtibang 2012 about their postoperative care.
Each patient receives printed information; this includes general advice and then advice specific to their type of operation. All are given a bag of medicines to use over the coming weeks, as the ear slowly heals. As not all patients can read well, he goes through all the information in a slow and amusing way, repeating details and ensuring that the patient, and their parent or guardian has understood. There are plenty of opportunities for questions and the process often takes 2 hours or more. Every patient has their bandage changed and wounds checked. Many patients are given a brightly coloured knitted hat to cover the dressing and protect it until they remove the bandage themselves in about 10 more days.

Nepali Life and Culture

In some areas the main means of carrying goods are pack animals. One has to be very careful to keep on the inside of these when on steep slope, they can easily push you aside as they pass. The noise of their bells carries far in the silence of the hills, where there is no noise from any vehicle or machine. Life is slow and patient.

A trek in February after an ear camp took some team members to Phoksundo lake. A beautiful and steep walk, with leopard prints in the snow and very few human winter residents. This village however still had several families living high up through the winter to care for their yak herds. This was festival time and the children did not have to take the long walk down to school each day.

At the end of the ear camp in Burtibang there was time for the team to take a walk along the river. A lady quietly gets on with her regular chores, beating and washing clothes on the riverbank, meanwhile the sounds of the village and the water are heard in the background, and down river some locals cross the typical swinging bridge, many are returning home after the camp. We saw many patients with bandages on the path. Life returns to normal pace after the crowds leave the village, having visited the hospital.

A traditional dancer and drummers perform at the closing ceremony of the Ear Camp in Martadi, Bajura, in the Far Western Region of Nepal in March 2006.


Summit hotel travelogue. An overview of tourist destinations both in and outside the Kathmandu valley.