One of my hobbies is trying to get people to laugh on photos. Its pretty easy in Nepal I think. While having your photo taken is becoming more common, as there are many snapping mobile phones about, having photos printed is relatively expensive and, if not a luxury, something reserved for serious applications to officialdom.
If you can imagine pictures of your great, great grandparents when the world was still sepia coloured, or your youthful great grandparents when the world had turned black white, and then if you can picture the serious scowls they wore on their faces, add colour some colour and you have an idea of how portrait photography is most of the time Nepal.
Anyway, during the few seconds of overbearing stress while waiting for the photographer to click the button, its is really easy to make people explode into laughter.
There you go. Laughter therapy is free. The straight face behind the mask is Dil Bahadur and this tells something of our relationship. For him, because of the donations that have been collected, I am his (small g) god – a term I hate. But given the context of a culture with millions of Gods, I can see where he’s coming from: out of the dust and smog comes someone who agrees to help you (by asking his friends and family to part with some cash). But this luck has just been the cherry on the cake. Dil has done more than his best to get to this point: a great deal of fund-raising in his home town, representation in the press (Journo seeks support) and support from his colleagues, his family came to Kathmandu to help him through dialysis (and his wife donated a kidney), and recently becoming one of the very lucky few in Nepal to reach the operating table in Bir Hospital (which incidentally celebrated one year of successful transplantation on the 12th December 2009).
Back to the photo. Among the family there is a palpable sense of relief, but with Dil, constantly wearing a mask to minimise the risk of infection with his permanently weakened immune system, he knows this is a long term thing. He faces up to the cost of his treatment every time he goes to the pharmacy and parts with cold hard cash. So far, generous donations brought in around 1,300 Euro. This has paid for one of the (two recommended) doses of chronically expensive Zena-pax which increases organ acceptance by up to 40%, plus the initially high doses of immunosuppressants. So far so very good. Still another 600 Euro would required to get to a maintenance state, where the daily dose of drugs becomes much cheaper and (more or less) manageable.
After that the challenge changes: to earn enough money to feed the family and pay the pharmacist. Its possible. A group of patients are looking at a programme where they set up their own specialist pharmacy to cut out the middleman and save around 15% of the cost. A group of people connected with UNDP are planning a training course on how to “Start and Improve Your Business” so that families can improve their income to cover their increase expenditure. Its early days, but there must be some way found to make this self-sustainable otherwise transplantation remains only for the rich.
So, nearly there, nearly out of the woods. Thanks very much indeed for your support to get to this point.
Donations already received can be seen here:
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