Ruth’s first day at Anandaban

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Ruth Jones, 21, is one of a group of young people taking part in a two-week volunteering trip to Anandaban Hospital, Nepal. Leaving the UK on 7 April, our volunteers are now getting stuck in to life at the hospital and learning more about our work.

I’m writing this blog post from my room in Anandaban Hospital’s Training Centre; it has the most beautiful view of the local village and hills out of my window, but I can also hear the sounds of the honking, clattering trucks as they drive along the rugged roads through the village.

Driving here is very different to the UK; I experienced this when I first arrived in Nepal on Tuesday. Even driving out of Kathmandu Airport’s car park was an experience of harsh braking and loud horns. The roads leading up to Anandaban are rugged, with steep drops at the roadside, with no barriers to protect the cars from falling – this only unnerved me when we were inches from the edge while overtaking wide trucks. Honestly, I did have complete trust in the driver – despite the chaotic road system. I have not yet seen any crashes, so there must be method in the madness!

Upon arrival at the Hospital we were greeted by some of the staff and then given Nepalese food for dinner, a welcome taste after the aeroplane meals I’d been munching on over the past 12 hours. We then went upstairs for the evening devotions – climbing the 365 steps that separate the Training Centre from the main hospital compound, as Anandaban sits neatly on a hill.

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Sleep quickly engulfed me after arriving back from the devotions, and the next morning I awoke to beautiful birdsong and the clatter and honking of trucks (not so beautiful!). After tucking into a tasty breakfast we got stuck into a day of touring the hospital, self care, and research facilities – which also involved climbing up and down the 365 stair path twice more, so I think my legs will be pure muscle when I get home! It was great to learn more about leprosy, meet some of the patients, see the facilities, and hear about how research into leprosy is developing at Anandaban.

The day came to an end with a walk into the local village – an amazing way to start our first full day in Nepal as it gave context to the lives of the leprosy patients before they entered the hospital, and the lives they will come back to when they are cured and leave Anandaban. It was also an amazing opportunity to meet some of the locals and the children especially enjoyed our visit.

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All photos: Ruth Jones

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