Legon, Tibet, Clinic Breaks Ground
It has been nine months since our return from Legon, Tibet and two years to the month since we were first asked by Lama Tenam, a former resident of the community, for our help with the health care of his village.
Legon is a community of villages and nomadic herdsmen numbering around 20,000, located near Dzogchen in the area known formerly as Kham, Tibet. It had no accessible health care. The community did not have a tradition of midwifery either which meant that complications arising with pregnancy and delivery of new borns was quite high. Every family either new from direct experience of their own, or reported by a close relative, of deaths arising from labor.
From July to December, 2013, Bodhi Seeds would conference with contacts in the area about how to best serve the health care needs. We agreed to have a trial run at sponsoring a local Tibetan doctor and refurbishing several rooms of an old building to serve as a prototype of what might be a future center. We received reports about how many people the doctor was seeing and how many deliveries he was performing, but still, it proved difficult to say what needed to be done without a close up visit.
September, 2014 Susan and I and Colin Coltrera, our translator, arrived in Chengdu and made our way westard to Legon. Lama Ajok guided us through the nooks and crannies of the domain he knows so well. He showed us the villages, the people, their wellnesses and their illnesses, those who needed urgent help and support, and a long wish list of many projects for the future.
The clinic would have the support of the local district health officer whose family was also from Legon. Dr. Lobten would continue on as the clinic's doctor and Dr. Chen, a Chinese doctor specializing in women's health agreed to come if we could build a birthing room. Lama Ajok would continue to be the administrator for at least several years. A site was already available on the grounds of the monastery.
The pilot project, the statistics we learned from the doctors' reports and our personal observations of the community's willingness and experience in handling projects of this size convinced us of the need and feasibility of sponsoring a larger clinic.
January, 2015, Bodhi Seeds agreed to sponsor the construction of the health center. It would have a birthing room, examination rooms, overnight rooms for patients and residents quarters for doctor and nurses. It would provide basic health care including minor trauma care for broken bones and lacerations, burns and sprains, care for infections and chronic illnesses, prenatal and post natal care, a place to receive vaccinations and health care wellness and education. It would provide an area to stabilize patients before transfer to larger trauma centers and hospitals for complicated surgeries and deliveries.
Ground was broken in March, 2015 (please see image above) and construction will likely be completed by winter of 2015 (please see follow up post). The construction costs to Bodhi Seeds was $50,000. This doesn't include furnishings and equipment, nor does it include operating expenses. We did learn this month that the center overcame a significant hurdle for construction of this type. The Chinese government agreed to issue the clinic an operating license and offer it a grant as well.
The future challenges from the donors' points of view are funding the equipment expenses and operating costs. However, the success of a project like this, is dependent not only on its donors, but also on the community and its leadership. There is not a more dedicated community leadership than Lama Ajok and Rinpoche and our two doctors and their staff. They understand the importance of working collaboratively with local, State and international parties and have a demonstrated history in doing so. They work practically and efficiently, generously and compassionately.
Please donate what you can so that we can continue to support the acquisition of equipment and the operating expenses of the clinic.
http://www.bodhiseeds.org/generosity.html, click on General Fund in the drop down menu.
Clinic construction: $50,000 (reached).
Operating expense estimate, $20,000 annually (2 doctors' salaries and staff, replenishing supplies, medications)
Capital equipment estimate, one time (exam and obstetrical suites, ultrasound, ekg, neonatal warmers, autoclave, minor surgical and obstetrical equipment): $44,000