The Mint Village

My alarm went off at 04:50am, it was time for another day of hiking. I watched as Lynda packed her rucksack, I still felt tired from the effects of not eating as much as I usually stuff in. I decided though I would only regret it if I didn’t make myself go.

The days plan; to go by bus for an hour to the base of a hill, then walk for approximately 3 hours to a village. At the village the volunteers would work with doctors to provide a health camp and hand washing sessions for the local communities. We would then walk back down the hill and get the bus back to the hotel. So it would be a long day!

We watched the sunrise on the bus journey out. We piled out the bus and started the walk. It was a bit steadier than the previous hill walk, with only a few river crossings to contend with. In a few areas the path would become narrow and force you to the edge because of previous landslides. We stopped for a nutritious breakfast of boiled eggs and bread (we were expecting this and many of us packed biscuits to enjoy instead😉).

I soon dropped to the back of the group and slathered on the factor 50, it was such a hot day to be out hiking! Luckily all us volunteers get on well. We had a good laugh about our embarrassing levels of fitness whilst locals of about 60years old essentially ran past us, uphill, with huge baskets of rice and supplies strapped to their heads.

The village was quaint and beautiful and smelt of mint on the walk in. We had been expecting about 400 people to arrive but apparently there were several weddings on locally so there would be less demand. We put our supplies into separate rooms to create a doctors room, a first aid room and a gynaecologists room. Toothbrushes and soap were piled up ready to go in an open area outside.

I patched up a few fingers, toes and knees on several shy children. Then I went in to observe the doctors sessions, they were brilliant. One elderly man had been carried to the village on his son’s back. He had difficulty with his vision, cataracts, and pain when walking from osteoarthritis. The doctor suggested surgery to improve his vision and gave him pain medication for his arthritis, then his son carried him away again. I have no idea how far they walked, but I’m sure it’s further than I would ever imagine carrying another human.

The gynaecologist was a funny man, very interested in hearing how our degree is structured in the uk. Women came to him because they were recently married and hadn’t conceived a child yet. He mainly dealt with gynaecological issues,but he would also see people with general health complaints too. He said he had learnt a lot from other doctors doing health camps before.

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After several hours of work, we all had the spiciest vegetables with rice for lunch. Then began the walk back down, racing against the descending sun. We hopped across rivers and slipped down the loose stones all the way down to the bus. We waited in the darkness for the rest of the group to catch up. When we got back to the hotel I decided I deserved a nice glass of beer!

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It was a challenging day, we were so tired. I’m so glad I went and accomplished such a long walk after being ill, but it was also so nice to experience another village and provide help to people who struggle to access any healthcare.

Life is good! 😊 x

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