In the pre dawn darkness we don our headlamps and set out to walk up to a viewpoint to see the sun rise and shine on the Himalayan high peaks. We are members of the International Advisory Board here to attend the 8th Annual PAHS Consultative Meeting.
We have traveled from Kathmandu up to a small resort area called Nagarkot where, aside from these early morning walks, we gather in a conference hall and marvel at the incredible progress made by our Nepali PAHS colleagues during the past year. There are presentations on the basic science and curriculum that is well under way with the 3rd batch of students just starting the program. There are ongoing discussions about the upcoming clinical curriculum and the development of two additional schools at PAHS (Nursing /Midwifery and Public Health). There are medical educators from around the world all here for the common purpose of supporting the PAHS mission to bring better health care to rural Nepal. We are definitely not here to “give a helping hand” in the traditional sense since the exchange is firmly bidirectional. Educational strategies that are being tried here will be models for providing care to under-served in our own countries.
The subset of early morning trekkers made it up to the peak and watch quietly as the sun rises above the prayer flags and lights up the alpine glow on the peaks of the Langtang Range.
Photo credit of mountain: Darren Nichols
As we walk back down the road we come across a group of Nepali Army soldiers on a brutal early morning training run. They are in full camouflage, wearing high black leather boots and carrying small metal-framed backpacks and large heavy rifles. They looked to be about 2/3 of the way through a long uphill run.
We could see the stragglers much further down the valley on the twisting roads. I was watching them as they climbed further up the long hill when I heard from behind me what sounded like someone struggling with their breathing. One soldier, who clearly was having a hard time, went past me bathed in sweat and moving at a painfully slow pace. As he went past me I noticed the soldier behind him had his hand on his backpack propelling him forward up the hill. It was such a small but kind and supportive gesture that it stopped me in my tracks. In this macho-drenched army setting I wasn’t expecting to see kindness.. yet there it was, a brotherly helping hand.