The ladies of the Bega CWA and their visitors enjoyed a fascinating presentation on Nepal for this week’s International Day lunch.
Wilma Chinnock, of Quaama, has travelled to Nepal four times, to trek the Himalayas as well as to volunteer in the Anandaban Hospital in Kathmandu run by the Leprosy Mission.
She shared her first-hand experiences with the intrigued crowd of CWA members, guests and Class 6 from Mumbulla School who also performed as part of the annual International Day lunch.
Ms Chinnock explained Nepal has the second-highest incidence of leprosy in the world and that it’s a disease of the poor and unsanitary.
She described the appalling conditions in areas of Nepal where there is no running water or sewerage and electricity is only available for parts of the day – “there’s just not enough to go around”.
The latest figures show more than 28.5million people live in the tiny land-locked country between India and China – with close to an estimated 2million in just the capital Kathmandu and surrounding urban sprawl.
“Nepal is the 12th poorest country in the world and that contributes to the very high incidence of leprosy as it’s essentially a disease of poverty,” Ms Chinnock said.
“The Leprosy Mission is a fantastic organisation in Nepal. They have hospitals where people can come to and see doctors for free, get medication for free, get operated on for free, get false arms, limbs, whatever they need for free.
“Not only that, the mission also goes into the remote areas to educate on how to avoid leprosy – prevention is better than cure,” she said.
From the lows to the highs of Nepal, Ms Chinnock also described her Himalayan treks to the group, including hiking to Mt Everest Base Camp, which sits around 5000m above sea level.
She shared an amusing anecdote that one of the group of fit blokes from Melbourne who were making the journey at the same time looked her small frame up and down and said “you’re not going to make it”.
That man was airlifted out on the third day with severe altitude sickness, while Ms Chinnock in her “tortoise versus the hare” pace was the first into camp without any hint of illness.
Ms Chinnock said she would love to go back again, not only for the scenery, but the people and helping in the hospitals – “it’s all of that”.
“If life gets a bit tough in the city, which it does, you can go outside and see the snow-capped mountains and think ‘wow’.
“The people there are so gentle, hospitable and so kind and appreciative.”
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