Over £6,000 raised at this year’s LED Fundraising Weekend

Our Dufton Pike and High Cup Nick fundraising weekend raised well over £6,000, which will be a huge help to LED’s projects in Nepal and Peru, purchasing and distributing new solar lights as well as helping our health centres and local schools.

Thank you to all who supported and/ or came along for a great weekend on 12/13 May and an amazing fundraising effort. We were blessed with great weather and a brilliant time was had by all on the hike over Dufton Pike and High Cup Nick, and at the evening festivities.

Special thanks go to Liam and Sue at www.fellsidecottages.uk in Dufton for hosting the event and all of their organisational support, and wonderful puddings after dinner!

Also a huge shout out for the food and drink in the evening, provided by Helen and Mark Hunt, Denise Brown and the trustees of LED. Jan at the Wakemans House Cafe in Ripon made some excellent scones which we all enjoyed after the walk, and Reunion Ales from Twickenham, West London provided some exceptional ale for the evening.

Thanks again from Val and the LED team for the support through sponsorship, buying raffle tickets, lending organisational help, coming along and making the event so special.

For updates on our projects, fundraising, treks and other activities, follow LED on Facebook/LEDCharity and Twitter/LEDCharity.

Donations always welcome via our LED JustGiving page.

 

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LED Nepal 2018 Report by Ross Gillespie

Leeds University medical student Ross Gillespie has recently returned from spending a month in Nepal, during which he distributed over 40 of LED’s solar powered lights, carried out eye tests and prescribed more than 50 pairs of reading glasses (kindly donated by Dave and Pat Booth) and conducted research interviews with healthcare workers about the primary healthcare system in the rural areas.

Here’s what he has to say about the experience….

Having worked with LED before in the Cordillera Blanca mountains of Peru, I was fortunate to have a second opportunity to work with the organisation, this time heading to the Himalayan foothills of Nepal in April. A combined project (alongside some research with University of Leeds) was the perfect chance to explore some of the more remote villages of the Dolakha region, north east of Kathmandu, as well as trekking through the stunning Gaurishankar Conservation Area.

Myself, Jenny (friend at University), Nima (guide) and Budi (porter) headed to the mountains on a 10 hour bus journey – public buses only for this route which is an experience worth having – and arrived in Singati, raring to go. After storing some extra kit with Nima’s family, we began our trek in the afternoon at Chyotchyot, with a solid two hours of uphill steps, to lead us to Simigaun. From here (approx. 2000masl), we ascended through Dongang, Beding, and Na, along the ‘Classic Rolwaling Valley’ trek through forests, fields and surrounded by brightly coloured flora. Accommodation consisted of small but comfortable guest houses, all hosted by the welcoming locals. The highlight of this first trek would have to be the day-visit to Tsho-rolpa lake and beyond (to approx. 5000masl) and after a little more exploring for another day we headed back down the trail. (In October season there is a pass that can be reached to complete a circuit but this is snowed over in April/May).

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With some extra time on our hands before Jenny moved on to her next destination, we explore more of the spectacular region – and although mostly dry, the heat (up to 30 degrees Celsius) made uphill stretches particularly challenging at times. Another highlight was visiting the women’s monastery in Bigu (great place to stop for your first hot shower in a fortnight) followed by the Hindu temple in Kallnchowk – both with far reaching views of snow peaks and rolling mountain valleys.

After two weeks of dedicated trekking, the real work began. Jenny left for Burma and Nima and I touched base at his parent’s house to draw up a plan. We spent 4-5 days distributing over 40 solar powered lights and prescribing more than 50 pairs of reading glasses (kindly donated by Dave and Pat Booth), in and around the Khare region. I also took the opportunity to teach some English in the local school. Following this, Nima and I took to the trails, walking from village to village to conduct interviews with healthcare workers about the primary healthcare system in the rural areas. Locals were very receptive to our work and appreciated the contribution made by our efforts. Whilst mobile, we did further eye tests though eventually ran out of glasses as we could only carry a limited supply. Whilst unfortunate, it means there is still much to be done.

Another two weeks passed in total before Nima and I headed back to Kathmandu. In addition to the trekking I managed to visit Pokhara, a fantastic tourist town with great food, some western comforts and a great mix of locals and travellers (especially at Busy Bee on a Friday/Saturday night). I also spent three days in Chitwan in and around the national park. At a muggy 38 degrees Celsius it’s a very different climate to the crisp mountain air, but there is lots to see and do. In particular I would recommend staying near Sauraha, and in low-season you can get great deals on Jungle safari tours, motorbike hire, and more.

All in all this was a fantastic trip with a great balance of charitable work, difficult trekking and touristy bits in between. As my first time in Nepal, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time spent here and will look forward to my next trip to the region. I would like to thank Val Pitkethly for organising and coordinating the trip, to Pat and Dave booth for their advice with prescribing reading glasses, to Nima for his hospitality and commitment as a guide, as well as Jenny, Samay and all the other travellers who made this a memorable experience. Finally, thanks to the kind people of Nepal – their kind, easy-going and positive attitude makes you feel very much included and welcome in this incredible country.

Namaste.

Ross Gillespie
Medical Student at University of Leeds

Photos from Ross of the two weeks he spent in Khare are available in this LED Facebook album.

Interested in volunteering with us in Peru or Nepal? Use the Contact LED form on the website (www.lighteducationdevelopment.org), or message us on facebook.com/LEDCharity, to find out about opportunities this year and next.

Quisuar Health Post Report – August 2017

Leeds University medical students Ella and Laura spent August at the LED health post in Quisuar, high in the Cordillera Blanca of Peru. Here’s what Laura has to say about the experience….

Quisuar Health Post

Our adventure starting by driving through the Llanganuco pass and trekking for two days to arrive in Quisuar. This was to be our base for the next few weeks. We were centred at the health post which has now been running for twelve years. The aim of the project is to provide healthcare and education to a less privileged and remote village in the Andes. In the mornings we ran the clinic seeing villagers with common problems, for example, worms, gastritis and back pain. In the afternoons we would teach English to the children.

Leeds medics, Ella and Laura, with the children, on their last day of English lessons in Quisuar

Ella and I, with the children, on their last day of English lessons in Quisuar

Skills and Attributes developed

There is no doubt that my confidence as a clinician has improved throughout this experience. Our previous exposure to patients in England has often been just observing and it is usually hard to get the opportunity to utilize what we have learnt. I was surprised at how much knowledge we had gained throughout medical school and how we were able to adapt these to the environment. One of the biggest daily challenges was communication. I had tried to learn Spanish before and during my trip. The problem however was that many of the villagers could not speak Spanish, but Quechua. As we learnt this is an impossible language to pick up in a few weeks. The consultations where therefore a lot less straight forward than we had witnessed in England. It was an invaluable experience, as we had to think outside the box in terms of communication. For example, many of the villagers could not read, so when testing eyes we had to point at pictures and things in the room instead.

Once the diagnosis had been figured out, then it was on to treatments. In England often patients leave with multiple medications, however, these were not available and this is not sustainable. Therefore, we had to think of ways to help which did not involve medication. For example, physiotherapy movements for pain and massaging using hot water and oils. It was often down to our judgement and an educated guess.

This experience has also broadened my cultural understanding. Peruvians are very superstitious and believe highly in non-medical treatments for diseases. They explained how they had cured asthma by placing the skin of a particular animal on their skin. It often effected compliance with the advice and medication we had provided, which with potentially life-threatening illnesses like asthma, can be very dangerous.

Benefitting the Wider Community

The project impacted the local community by increasing their understanding of certain illnesses and the importance of hygiene. We worked alongside a Peruvian Nurse Tula. We taught her how to conduct a Muscoskeletal examination of different joints and a thorough examination of the heart and lungs. We also taught her about different illness, for example the different types of diabetes and how you diagnose it. These are skills she can continue once we have left.

Ella and I (Laura) with our guide (Juan) and the nurse (Tula)

Ella and I with our guide (Juan) and the nurse (Tula), at the Quisuar Health Post

In conclusion, I loved my time in Quisuar, being fully immersed in Peruvian culture, without Wi-Fi and bucket washing for a few weeks. It was an experience I would love to relieve, I would recommend it to anybody that asks and hopefully one day I will return.

Laura Chapman

Interested in volunteering with us in Peru or Nepal? Use the Contact LED form on www.lighteducationdevelopment.org or message us on facebook.com/LEDCharity to find out about opportunities in 2018.

Summer 2016 in Quisuar

This summer, Leeds University medical student Ross Gillespie spent 4 weeks as a volunteer at the LED health post in Quisuar. Here’s what he has to say about the experience….

I have recently returned from Quisuar having spent 4 weeks in the LED health post, located in the captivating mountain range of the Cordillera Blanca. I’m Ross, a Medical Student of Leeds University, UK, and I’d like to share a short account of my experience over the summer.

My journey began in Lima, a vibrant and busy city with some real gems to offer. An 8 hour bus journey lead me to Huaraz where I met Val, Juan (translator and entertainer), the crew, and four trekking Americans, Janet, Meara, Tara and Nalini. After some acclimatisation walks and some generous meals in the local hotspots of Huaraz we stocked up on medications and food, prepped our kit and headed into the heights of the Cordillera Blanca.

As with previous visitors a private coach journey winding through various towns and villages and over the Llanganuco Pass would lead us to Chingil. Here we would spend the night, before the 4 hour trek over a 4450m pass to the health post in Quisuar. The surreal beauty of the surrounding landscape seen throughout this journey was truly unique and a clear sky allowed us to appreciate the peaks, which appeared from all points of the compass.

Arriving at the village of Quisuar we were greeted by the locals with a traditional welcome party of singing, dancing and general frolicking before arriving to our goal destination of the health post. Here we met Tula, the nurse and I settled in for my 4 week stay.

As mentioned in other reports, the location of the health post is quite unique with incredible views surrounding it. The health post is basic but is well stocked with basic medications and equipment, somewhat loosely comparable to a GP surgery. This allows for a generous consulting room and a private examination room (which doubles up as the bedroom) in which to practise, as well as a small waiting room and decent kitchen.

The first week was especially busy in terms of patients, but we quickly established a system that seemed to work. With Tula translating to Castellano (I must admit, life was made much simpler by being able to speak Spanish, although not essential), a comprehensive history was easy enough to obtain and follow with examination and an appropriate management plan.

Conditions we encountered were mostly chronic back pain, gastritis, infections (of varying types) and the usual signs of ageing (poor vision, aches and pains, loss of strength). The village would most certainly benefit from some dental care and education seems to be the key step missing to further develop the health of the region.

We spent two days in the secondary school teaching about nutrition, mental health and general health. We were keen to address sexual health, a topic which is too frequently ignored or avoided in this region given the reserved nature of its people, however it is essential that any proceeding visitors do their utmost to educate the teenagers about this. Persistence is key, and has been successful in the past with vast reductions in teenage pregnancy rates.

I spent most afternoons teaching the local children English, with ages ranging from 6-16. This was very rewarding and its nice to see kids who remember how to play, using their imagination, and not have their eyes fixed on a screen at all times! We also brought school resources and skipping ropes etc to share with the children and schools.

Juan would cook breakfast, lunch and dinner and free time during the week was spent updating computer records (kids height/weight, consultation records, inventory), training Tula and doing home visits. Weekends were spent trekking and visiting nearby towns and villages. Juan and I trekked to Pombabamba (about 12-14 hours the long way around) and spent a weekend their, restocking and buying gifts for the children. We also visited the two lakes and attempted fishing (NB: spinners or ‘mariposas’ are useless, you need to sink a worm to have any chance), and spent a day at the big Sunday football tournament in Pochgoj.

The political stance of the village is not easy to gauge, but with an elected president representing the people, there is normally someone who knows what is going on. With big companies trying to exploit resources by giving false promises and strange new laws on employment of teachers, it is quite unclear as to the political direction of the village. The most important thing is that the health post continues to have its positive impact on the community, and with consistent support from the majority of the local village, and in fact surrounding villagers, this should not be challenged any time soon.

Tula is great with patients and is keen to learn to further her ability to help others. She is trusted and respected by the patients, and is a key asset to the health post. Juan, who plays a multi-faceted role of translator, guide, cook, entertainer and friend is an easy going Peruvian, and with an innate ability to read people, he knows just how to keep spirits high!

Returning home, we took the lazy option of a coach to Pombabamba and a bus back to Huaraz (about 14 hours of travelling door to door). Back in Huaraz I spent a week in the local public hospital in general surgery/A&E, which was eye opening to say the least. Here the interns taught me and treated me as one of their own, generously inviting me to meals and nights out. They exemplified the welcoming and humble nature of the Peruvian people.

Overall I had an amazing experience, and one that I will surely never forget. I would like to thank Val, Juan, Tula and the Crew (Melki, Antonia, Freddie, Augustin (Cuchin)) for their help throughout my stay. I am also most grateful to the people of Peru who made the experience so rich and memorable.

Ross Gillespie

Interested in volunteering with us in Peru or Nepal? Use the Contact LED form on the website (www.lighteducationdevelopment.org), or message us on facebook.com/LEDCharity, to find out about opportunities in 2017.

For photos, look at our LED at work – Peru 2016 album on Facebook.