John & Jude's 6th trip to Chialsa
We were fortunate to have our excellent usual driver Dawa pick us up from Kopan Monastery at 4am on Friday morning the 6th October 2023. We had arranged the dental equipment boxes to be brought up to reception the night before to facilitate a quick and early departure from Kathmandu.
Not surprisingly traffic was very light as we exited Kathmandu and the Kathmandu Valley in the early morning darkness. This was our 6th trip to Chailsa.
The journey was, as usual, long and tiring, but we made good time and arrived at Salleri in the early afternoon. We drove up to Chailsa, with some difficulty on the slippery track in Dawa’s 2 wheel drive vehicle and finally arrived at Chailsa Monastery at 1530 hours. We were greeted warmly by a gaggle of children and the affable monk Bijay and Gisela Samten.
We bunked down in the visitors’ quarters in the old monks dormitory building. The adjacent toilet block provided hot water shower and a pedestal toilet!
We set up our Clinic, in what for us was the old dining room of past. Things are changing at Chailsa, and a recent building program has seen huge changes with new dormitories for senior students and a new kitchen and dinning room and new toilet and shower facilities for the 160 odd boarding students in the now, 240 student school.
We had spoken to Pemba Norbu Sherpa, the wonderful Headmaster of the Sagarmatha Secondary School, about getting help with our Clinic from senior student doing “work experience” with us. Pemba jumped at the chance to expose his students to that environment and 7 seniors reported for duty dressed in white jackets ready for work. It was a delight to have them help and learn new skills and practice their English as well. These students were year 9 and 10 and 17ish, very mature and eager to learn.
Jude and I were feted for all our meals taken in the dining room of the Gisela’s house. Nothing was too much trouble. We had delightful Dahl Bhat and Miso soups, MoMo’s, and pancakes and pizza’s and even apple crumble, once we gave them the recipe! Gisela Samten had You Tubed Pizza oven’s and build one just that year.
We were able to see some 170 patients, both students and local villagers. We anecdotally think about 30% of the students we saw did not need any treatment! So we feel our dental program at Chailsa is working, as last time we thought 20% of the student did not need any treatment.
Pemba organised a trek for us after our work was done. He and 2 porters and a cook with the two of us in tow, set out for Dudhkunda Lake, a four day trek to the lake and back. The sacred lake sits at 4600 meters, under the watchful Numbur Mountain at 6959 meters.
We completed the trek, very tired but happy, and made our long way back to Chailsa and Kathmandu with our trusty driver Dawa.
We regrouped at Kopan and delivered back our dental equipment to the Clinic and made plans to return again next year to carry on the now very successful Dental Project at Chailsa.