The essence of having compassion for all beings is the wish to free ourselves, and all beings, from the cyclic continuum of suffering.
Tempa Dukte Lama
Lack of healthcare is a serious problem in the Humla Valley. The population of the Humla District is 50,000 people, and there is only one hospital which has a shortage of doctors. For most villagers, it takes 2-4 days to reach the hospital, a trip made on foot by narrow goat trails through steep mountain passes. A handful of villages have small medical outposts, but they are frequently closed, unstaffed or unequipped. In addition, most Humli villagers do not have the financial resources to afford medical care. As a result of these challenges, most illnesses and injuries go untreated.
In 2014, Humla Fund set up its first free mobile health clinic, led by Humli native, Tempa Dukte Lama. Our volunteers trekked through the Himalayan mountains and set up four clinics, treating over 700 villagers in the span of seven days with acupuncture, Tibetan medicine, pediatric exams, first aid, health and hygiene education, myofascial massage and chiropractic care. We treated villagers for many conditions, including musculoskeletal and joint pain, neurological conditions, infectious disease, pediatric conditions, respiratory illnesses, skin conditions, digestive illnesses, gynecological issues, and trauma.
Humla Fund is one of the first organizations to lead the way in bringing free acupuncture, Tibetan medicine and natural forms of medicine as primary care to the Humla Valley. These traditional medicines are especially well suited for serving traditional people. The medical aid we bring fits into the culture that values the intimate connection and balance with nature, and understands hands-on medicine. We have seen that our way of working with the body and treating illness is very compatible with our Humli patients’ world views. Our approach to primary care treatment alleviates symptoms, while also addressing the root cause of symptoms. The whole person is treated in a comprehensive way, showing immediate effects that can also be long lasting, well beyond the time the treatment is given. Our medical aid is uniquely suited to providing primary care in this remote area because we do not rely on lab tests, machinery, electricity or pharmaceuticals to deliver effective care. In the future, Humla Fund plans to establish a permanent and sustainable traditional Tibetan medical clinic with midwifery nursing care in Humla.
The Humla Medical Service trip offers the opportunity for acupuncturists, naturopaths, midwives, doctors, nurses, chiropractors, herbalists, massage therapists and non-medical volunteers to share their wisdom and compassion through the delivery of no-cost, high-quality health care. The trip also provides an opportunity for volunteers to experience meaningful human exchange through caring for one another, and to encounter the wisdom and traditions of the Humli people. Volunteers from the Humla Medical Service Trip interact with the village shamans in an exchange of healing traditions. The medical volunteers share their knowledge and treatment of medicine, and receive healing from the shamans and directly experience the traditional rituals and festivals. Encountering the Humli culture and Bon spiritual tradition can inspire us to reconnect with our own authentic generosity. It is our essential nature to be generous and compassionate. When we are fully in touch with this aspect of ourselves, we can express it effortlessly in a way that benefits everyone. This trip is a profound adventure of self-exploration and development through service to others. Practitioners can share this renewed sense of expansiveness with their patients and community back home.
The Humla Medical Service Trip is a grassroots effort and all of our practitioners fund their own travel and volunteer their time and expertise. We employ over 40 local people from the Humla Valley as support staff in the roles of medical translators, trekking guides, sherpas and cooks. These mutually warm and heartfelt relationships have also resulted in lasting friendships between our staff and volunteers. We rely on donations of medical supplies and monetary donations for purchasing supplies to provide medical care to the Humli people. Donations have a direct impact on the villagers we treat. Every dollar donated translates into needles, herbs and time spent with patients who have little to no access to healthcare.