It has been a while since I have written on this blog and I think my recent adventures have given me a perspective that I had lost with my work schedule and the hustle and bustle of life. Normally I write about Business, Real Estate, or things that in my humble opinion would appeal to a large audience? Today I am going to take a little detour and talk about something that I am very passionate about and that is giving back. There are many ways to give back in both your community and around the world but I am going to discuss my latest adventure, what we did, why we did it, and why I can’t wait to do it again next year.
I believe in giving back to those truly in need. I don’t want it to sound like one form of giving is better than the other because all giving is great. Basically what I mean is that I like to do things that I think have the most impact. Let me give you a great example; did you know that in rural Africa a chemically treated mosquito net on average saves the lives of three people? You see the entire family sleeps under that one net so that $10 has an impact beyond what most people could ever fathom. People that live in the United States of America have privileges that many people in most of the world could only dream of, and for the most part take them for granted. We have the protection and benefit of some of the most amazing Policemen, National Guard, Firefighters, First Class Education System, Clean Drinking Water, Reliable Utilities, and the list goes on and on. Trust me I know because I have traveled the world and volunteered in some of the poorest places that most people could never imagine.
Aaron and Debbie Cuha in Nepal
To start with my wife and I are the founders of a small Non-Profit Organization called the Center for Global Change. I would simply say our mission is to open eyes, inspire minds, and enlighten hearts. We do this primarily by helping children in third world countries with basic needs (food, shelter, medicine). For the last few years we have been focused on Nepal with its unstable government, complete failure to provide even the most basic of needs to its people, and one of the worst child mortality rates in the world. We started by fundraising for an Orphanage that was founded by a good friend (Daniel Nassie of Rescue Humanity), after some successful fundraisers we decided it was time to go to Nepal, get to know the children and expand what we were doing. Needless to say we were hooked and so we started going two or three times a year and doing a yearly Medical Outreach in one of the rural villages. We were so overwhelmed by the need and our ability to help so many people that it has grown exponentially from there.
This is where our latest adventure starts, you see we have just returned from the most successful Medical-Dental camp at the Jamahit Secondary School in Ratnapur-8, Damachaur, Syangja district of Nepal. This school served as a center point for us to treat people from Syangja, Tanhun, and Palpa Districts. To say this was a remote village would be an understatement. I went there in May to make the arrangements for this camp, I was the first American any of the children had ever met. It took most patients many days of walking or being carried to reach the camp.
Let’s back up a little, our camp started with our team of 55 medical professionals, 10 American volunteers, and 60 Nepali paid volunteers leaving Kathmandu at 6:30 AM on October 26th. I don’t know if any of you have seen the “IRT Most Dangerous Roads” recently but it is a hazardous drive to say the least. The journey took 18 hours on the most dangerous roads anyone has ever seen with the last 35 miles off-road on a muddy trails thru the Himalayas. Fortunately a small group of the volunteers were able to fly to a small tourist town called Pokhara and shave about 9 hours off the trip. Either way most everyone finaly arrived about Midnight the night before we were to start. We were greeted by the most amazing welcoming committee with a local band and all the children giving us flowers even though it was so late.
Over the next three days we hit a new Medical Camp record by treating 4229 patients. Unfortunately there were seven critical patients with life threatening issues that were transported directly to Kathmandu. This was the most successful Camp that we have ever been involved in and to give you some prospective our previous record was 1039 patients last year. We attribute this to the very remote region , highly committed volunteers, and the financial support from the Vanetik Foundation, Chase Merritt, and Windell and Karen Stout our three sponsors.
Here is a quick outline of the services we provided,
The Number of patients who received Medical-Dental service in the 3-day Syangja Camp
To utilize our limited human resources and materials our first priority was to adjust and control the flow of patients, to enhance service quality and efficiency and treat as many people as possible. It is a huge task to guide villagers, insist they take a place in line, and wait their turn. Most are anxious about losing the chance to receive the free medical service based on first-come-first-serve principle so it was our mission to educate and guide them. Our dedicated volunteers referred to this as “Mission Impossible”. Our American volunteers (Debbie Cuha and Ferial Mosharaf) were able to convince them that each patient would be seen. Of course with the assistance our local translators. After three days of encountering thousands of people we were finally done and able to start our long trip home.
The services provided at the health camp were General Medicine, Dental, Gynecological, Ophthalmologic and Pharmacy. In addition, we conducted Children’s, Sanitation, and Eco-Awareness programs daily from around 8 AM to 5 PM outside the medical service area. I can’t tell you the joy in a person’s face that has been suffering from a disease, hernia, poor eyesight, or numerous infected and or rotten teeth, especially when you are not only able to help but in most case fix the issue. Imagine the sparkle in a child’s eye when you give them their first toothbrush or print a picture of them and give it to them to take home.
I wish I could say that this is just about making a difference and that I do this just for that reason but I can’t because there is a selfish part. It is also about you or me and how it makes us feel, no matter who or what your beliefs are it affects you and gets under your skin like a virus and once infected it never goes away. Once you truly start down this path you would have to non-human to not do it again and again. It fills your heart with joy and puts a smile on your face every time you think about what you have accomplished.
There are so few who give back the equivalent of what they take and even fewer, more than they get. There is a mentality of entitlement the has spread throughout America, and it’s selfish appetite is nearly insatiable. Most people are polite, courteous and civil when it serves their self-interest, but not many are truly selfless. When is the last time you did something for another person without expecting anything in return?
Please don’t take my word for it go to our website www.c4gc.org look at the pictures then click on the tab that says volunteer and go with us next year. Or if you can’t get away then sponsor the trip. I assure you it will change your life and at the least give you a new perspective. It is not like just giving blindly to some charity although that can be rewarding but in this situation every penny goes to help people and change the lives of many. All because of you! You might ask yourselves “What difference am I making in the lives of those around me? In the world?…”
I would like to thank the following people for their support this year. Without you none of this would have been possible and if I have forgotten someone I apologize just email me and I will add it.
Yuri Vanetik, Lana Shpir, Chad and Kirsten Horning, Windell and Karen Stout, Paul Makarechian, Erik and Alison Brown, Eric and Desiree Rogers, Dr. Moni Mosharaf, Dr. Susan Dindot, Todd and Sherry Rustman, David and Paula Latona, Chris and Marcella Dornin, Steve Nordhoff, Curtis and Laurie Barnes, HK Yoon, Dean and Laurie Gray, Thad Foret, Dr. Joseph Manzini, and everyone else that was involved in this great project.