Namaste! It is my fourth day in Kathmandu, Nepal and I already feel adjusted to the busy streets, colorful clothing, welcoming friends and families, and rice and lentils for every meal. The woman I am staying with, Aparna Bhatta, is the local coordinator for Hasilo Nepal but more importantly, the most warm-hearted, hardest working, caring and loving person I have ever met. Her bright purple house is constantly filled with visiting friends, Nepali and international, seeking her advice or just coming to hang out. Two of the community health workers I met last time are staying here as well, Shanti and Ganga and they cook every meal with traditional and healthy ingredients, despite many shops selling only junk and packaged food that line the street.
Despite the worrisome amount of these shops I can see from just my window, this is the perfect place to begin collecting data for the maps I will make in August! Today was my first oral health camp of the trip, located at a school just down the street. After quickly obtaining the school’s location with my GPS, I was available to help apply fluoride varnish. Many were excited or indifferent to having the fluoride treatment and patiently sat still as I painted the varnish on their teeth, licking their lips and looking very confused about what just happened after I finished. Some however, scream and cry at the site of the tiny brush, thinking it is some type of shot or painful process. For some reason, I got often these types, maybe because I don’t speak Nepali and can’t say anything to comfort them. Even though I knew it was for their own good, I never got used to prying the small brush into their screaming mouths as teachers and moms held back their hands. Actually the screaming ones are easier because they at least have to open their mouths to cry….the geniuses who really really don’t want the treatment don’t make a sound, keeping their lips sealed with no possible entrance for the brush. I think I’ll ask to pass out the tooth-brushes and tooth paste at the next camp.
For the past few days I have been visiting and collecting locations of food stores in the area with my GPS. On our street, I walked down two blocks in each direction and counted about 12 shops selling only packaged food like candy, chips, cookies and soda. And I found two shops and one cart selling fresh fruits and vegetables. And I could see a possible consequence of the ratio of these types of shops in the kids’ decayed teeth as I applied fluoride.
We have a few more camps in other areas of Kathmandu and next week we are traveling to Bhotechaur to stay at their health clinic, do camps and collect data in the nearby villages.