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A Mountain Of Need In Nepal

The country of Nepal is home to eight of the ten tallest mountains in the world, the tallest of which is the infamous Mount Everest (which, astonishingly, is more than twice the height of Pikes Peak, the mountain we see every day outside our headquarters in Colorado Springs).

Mount Everest becomes a fitting metaphor for the task our Medical Mercy team faces in Nepal. Dr. Beyda reflects on the second day of clinics:

The rising sun brought those who were going to the base camp on Mount Everest to a gathering place where they awaited their ride. In 4-6 days they would reach 17,500 depending on their strength and endurance. Then another 10 days to 2 weeks at the base camp getting acclimated to the altitude in preparation for the trek to the 29,300 feet summit. They wait for a "window of opportunity" in the weather where they have 2 weeks to get up and back. I am in awe of their fortitude and determination.

At the same time those of us who were going to a project to hold our medical clinic gathered in a place to await our ride. A 30 minute ride to the project, a full day of clinic, children a little sicker than we saw yesterday, and I am in awe of the team's fortitude and determination.

Two very different purposes, two very different destinations, and two very different goals. We "acclimate" not to altitude, but to the poverty that we see, to the malnourished children, to the sense of hopelessness that sometimes covers the faces of the mothers who have little to care for their children.

We approach our "base camp" no differently than the trekkers. Slowly, methodically, sure of every step, making everything count in order to reach our goal. We had our own trek. We walked about a half mile today into the project and again back out, carrying all of our supplies. No "sherpas."

This little girl in the picture perhaps gives you a sense of who we cared for today. We treated children with asthma, pneumonia, and ear infections. We saw children who were stunted, short for their age, as a result of being malnourished (as, it is estimated, half of the children in Nepal are). Those children will be vulnerable to chronic illnesses and a short life span.

Our sponsored children were seen, given the best we had, and for that they have been given a chance to reach the "summit." The summit of making a life out of nothing and being able to breathe without coughing and wheezing. As for us tonight, we rest, and prepare for tomorrow, becoming more acclimated to what we've seen and ready for what will be seen tomorrow.

Nepal is a beautiful country. The children are uniquely beautiful with facial features and smiles that radiate. I'll sleep a few hours tonight and wait for the rising sun and gather to a place in the morning where we will trek to the next project. A few thousand feet more and we are closer to the top: healthcare for those who need it the most.

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