Since my last blog it’s been quite the opposite as it was before... I have been keeping extremely busy!
In the days that followed I spent a great deal of time at the University and even got to assist one of the medical-surgical course instructors with her lecture. At the end of that week I travelled outside of where my home base is in Uttara and headed to Savar for an entire week. There was very limited internet access there, hence the gap in blogs.
The name may sound familiar to you, as it was the town where the garment building collapsed. It is also the area where one of the most renowned Bangladeshi health facilities exists – CRP (The Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralyzed). The centre opened in 1979 and is the only non-profit, non-government organization of its kind. They treat and rehabilitate individuals who are disabled largely as a result of spinal cord injuries. These injuries most commonly occur in Bangladesh due to falling from a tree while harvesting fruit, or from carrying heavy loads upon their heads. They also treat a large number of stroke patients and children with Cerebral Palsy. They take a
very holistic approach to their care by offering everything from physiotherapy, occupational therapy, nursing care, speech language therapy, and vocational training to counseling services. They treat everyone regardless of income status to ensure that any patient who endures the type of injuries that these individuals suffer can return to their home and community environment with the knowledge, confidence and skills to lead a productive life with dignity. At present, the centre has also been gracious enough to close down their dining hall to make room for the Rana Plaza tragedy survivors. There were both women and men who managed to survive the collapse, but they have many broken bones and will require a great deal of support.
While I was there, I got to meet with the head of each department and observe the care that they provide. Some of the practices were shocking, such as the use of newspaper instead of proper briefs, but they work with what they have and do a great job. I was also allowed to observe two surgeries and pair up with the team that went out for a number of follow-up appointments in the community to visit patients who had been discharged.
Some of the patients were able to cope quite well and were now functioning at a very high level, although some were not and have been bed bound ever since and are covered in pressure sores. I’m sure you can guess that where they resided and whom they had to rely on for support was a great indicator of their overall health status.
I was not able to provide any nursing care per se to the patients we encountered due to the language barrier and for various legal reasons, but I can honestly say that the patients were just happy to see new faces around. They really enjoyed having someone to practice their English with and to show their newly developed skills to. This was extremely evident in the wheelchair cricket game and hospital bed ring toss.
After we left CRP, we managed to visit a few tourist sites before heading back to Uttara. We stopped at the Martyrs’ Memorial Museum and Dhamrai village. The memorial is where many people are buried that were killed in the 1971 war of independence. Dhamrai is an old Hindu village that was once home to very wealthy families who constructed massive
homes that have an almost colonial-like appearance. There still are a large number of Hindus that reside there, and they are known for their excellent skills in brass work and silk weaving. We were invited to visit Dhamrai Metal Craft which utilizes an ancient technique called the "Lost Wax Technique" to compose their brass sculptures and ornaments. This particular shop is a family run business that has carried on this tradition for five generations. Their house has also remained in the family for the last 150 years and was quite a sight to see just on its own. It has 27 bedrooms!
I now have a couple of days off to myself and then will be heading to the School of Hope on Monday. This school caters to approximately 200 disadvantaged children, many of whom are in great need of medical attention. The nursing students at IUBAT, a few Canadian volunteers and myself will be conducting hearing and eye exams, as well as growth assessments to determine those children that are in need of attention so that the school can hopefully organize care for them. I will also be visiting the International Centre of Diarrheal Disease Research of Bangladesh
where they treat individuals suffering from cholera.
I will definitely keep you posted on the details of my next adventures! Until then, take care, xo.
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