Surgery amid disaster in Nepal: A patient reflects two years on

By Corrie Butler, a Canadian Red Cross aid worker who recently travelled to Nepal to document recovery two years after the earthquake.

“I remember the exact day – it was 17 June 2015,” says Samita Tamang. Only one month after the second earthquake hit Nepal, Samita underwent surgery in her remote community of Dhunche, in the District of Rasuwa, Nepal.
Samita belongs to an ethnic group in Nepal that were particularly affected by the earthquake. Samita was in her home when the first earthquake hit – although the entire house had crumbled, miraculously, she survived. Living in a temporary shelter with her family, including her daughter, Samita began feeling a familiar but severe, gnawing pain in her abdomen. She knew what it was – gallstones. She had been putting it off for months before the earthquake and now the pain had come back.
The only hospital that could tend to her was in Kathmandu - a 6.5 hour bus ride away. Thankfully, Canadian Red Cross had set up an emergency field hospital nearby where she was assessed. As expected it was the gallstone – but it had now doubled in size. She underwent the surgery and even stayed overnight to be monitored.

Samita and her daughter at dusk in DhuncheSamita Tamang with her daughter, Mijen Dolma, stand at dusk in the mountainous town of Dhunche. Photo: Marko Kokic/Canadian Red Cross

"We were all treated equally,” recalls Samita. “It did not matter who we were."
Almost two years later, she is not only back in her home but has transformed it into a guesthouse for backpackers, hikers and Nepalese traveling through the mountain-side town. 
In just three months, 110 Canadians were deployed to Nepal to support the needs of earthquake-affected people, including the treatment of 5,400 patients and the safe delivery of 31 babies in the hospital.


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