J-school student documentary makers Dan Haves and Anupreet Sandhu Bhamra report from a remote district in the Himalayas, where Dr. Videsh Kapoor from the UBC Medical School and her team of medical students have established a health care centre.
Greetings from 4,000 metres above sea level.
We are in a tiny village following Dr. Videsh Kapoor from the UBC Medical School and her team of medical students who have started a health centre high up in the Himalayas. Their goal is to treat some of the basic health problems faced by local children, and also to create awareness of hygiene and prevention.
The people are friendly and helpful. The routine of the local students is rigorous. They rise at 5:30 a.m. for yoga and stretches, line up for morning assembly at 9:30 a.m., and attend classes till 4:15 p.m. The younger children are an absolute delight to watch and film. They greet us every time they see us – with folded hands (traditional Indian greeting) and call us “teachers.”
This trip started in New Delhi where we endured 40-degree Celsius weather and enjoyed the colours and aromas of India’s capital city.
We stopped en route in Manali, a city that acts as a base camp for trekkers, to acclimatize ourselves to the higher altitude.
From Manali to Rangrik, the drive turned adventurous. We passed through the Rohtang Pass at 3,978 metres above sea level and then the Kun Zum La Pass at 4,550 metres, the highest elevation of our journey so far.
The terrain was rocky; and at places there was no road at all. Our bodies were in a constant state of motion as our truck traversed the rocky and winding mountain path. The barren mountains stood guard as the evening sun splashed light across them. It was stunningly beautiful.
We reached Rangrik in the Spiti Valley in the evening. The valley is snowed in and cut off from the rest of the world eight months out of the year.
There is a boarding school here, named Munsel-Ling, that provides education from kindergarten to Grade 10 for nearly 400 children, mostly ethnic Tibetans from the Spiti Valley. Because of the school’s isolation, the students have no access to health care most of the year. Basic health problems like anemia, scabies, lice and dental disease are rampant.
The UBC medical students are screening the local students for anemia, doing surveys on sanitation and water problems and compiling data.
We’ll be in the valley for a few more days filming and documenting their journey.
Anu and Dan