When you are one of the world’s poorest nations, and reeling from a huge earthquake, how do you look after the most vulnerable in society?
Clare Grimble of Starston is working to meet the needs of at least some of those people in Nepal, in the heart of the Himalayas. The qualified physiotherapist, whose parents Peter and Sue Grimble have lived in Starston for 32 years, is working as a volunteer for International Nepal Fellowship, a Christian health and development mission organisation, where her skills as a physio are being used to help children and adults with disabilities.
She is based in Pokhara, the second largest city in Nepal, nestled under the snowy Himalayan peaks - some of the highest mountains in the world. Part of her job is to travel into the villages in the mountains by foot, on buses and sometimes by small plane, to work with two INF community physiotherapists and many different field workers from community disability organisations. She has been there since 2014 and is due to return for home leave in 2016.
She worked with INF from 2003 to 2008 and first visited Nepal back in 1997 at Green Pastures Hospital in Pokhara.
She said it was that first visit that made her realise she had found a calling in life: “My story is closely connected with my experience of discovering a God of immense love and coming into a relationship with Him, while at university. While at Green Pastures Hospital I felt a strong call to give my life to serve the poor and disabled in Nepal.”
Nepal is a country of 30 million, not much bigger than England, ranking near the bottom of many indices for socio-economic development.
Clare, a fluent Nepali speaker, said: “It is immensely rewarding to meet children and adults with disabilities and their families, whose lives we can impact through providing things like simple exercises, a wheelchair, a wheelchair accessible toilet, or referring them for an operation, and teaching the family and community how to help the person to participate as much as possible in daily life.
“While it is slowly changing, there is still much discrimination towards people with disabilities in Nepal. Many believe that it is due to a curse or a sin in their previous life that they are disabled; therefore creating positive and inclusive attitudes of the community towards people with disabilities and helping the disabled person to love themselves, is a significant step towards their full rehabilitation.”
Fortunately Clare was unharmed during the recent earthquakes, but many were not so lucky, and she has seen first-hand the devastation caused, but has also been encouraged to see the relief work undertaken by agencies. She has been reporting back to people in Starston via her column in the village magazine, the Pigeon Post.
She fundraised locally through the local church and community as part of raising support for her voluntary work, and will have a role to play in the aftermath, helping INF to make community rehabilitation plans in some of the earthquake affected villages and recruit and train community workers to rehabilitate those injured.
Proud dad Peter added: “We would like to see more of her, of course. But she is a very determined young lady. You can’t do these things without total commitment.”
For more information about INF, visit www.inf.org