Steve’s Nepal Expedition 2011

Timbu School and the village centre

After arriving in Kathmandu on the 2nd August, I took the bus to Timbu and arrived mid-afternoon on the 3rd of August. Timbu consists of a very small village centre, a small health post and a school which taught classes 0-10 (primary and secondary). Our host family, the Lama family, lived further up-river about a 10 minute walk away. During the next 24 days I worked at the school and within the community.

My main aims were to train the staff in basic/advanced first aid

but I also taught science/health as per the school’s curriculum, taught basic first aid to the students, ran some after school English classes and helped the local health post where necessary. I donated first aid supplies to the school which I brought from the UK (after some difficulty clearing customs). I purchased this equipment from money generated by fundraising and thanks to proceeds from St John Ambulance, Bedworth Round Table and the Arbury Rotary Club.

The Ghangyul Anni Gumba (under-construction)

On the 27th August I left Timbu to reach the Ghangyul Anni Gumba where I spent the next 9 days. The Gumba itself it still being constructed, hopefully to be completed in 1-2 years time.

The nunnery consisted of 16 nuns whose ages ranged from 12/13 to 30+ with most of the nuns being young girls under 16.

Here I also trained the Nuns and the Lama in first aid. I initially also taught English as well as first aid but I found this quite challenging and decided to focus on teaching first aid which, being a practical skill, was far easier to teach. The Lama also took me on a walk to his private meditation room and where we discussed Tibetan herbal medicines, their use, preparation and where they are found (the Langtang region is noted for their abundance).


By the 5th September I was ready to set off to my next destination, Tarkeghyang. Although a relatively large village it was profoundly empty with barely 60 people still living there (it was explained to me that this was a result of the Maoist uprising with many people immigrating to the US). Here I managed to persuade some of the younger generation of villagers to attend first aid training but with the very small local school closed for exams there was little other teaching to be done. Therefore I took this time to assess some of the villager’s health complaints and visit the local medicine man at the Darma Help Self Centre.

Nakote School

From Tarkeghyang I ventured down the valley to Nakote on September 13th. The school in this village was well equipped and the students were well educated; they thoroughly enjoyed my basic first aid training to the students. I also taught the staff, although they were slightly reluctant at first.

I also did some health work where required (primarily when people came to me asking for help).

On the 19th September, Ola and Nima surprised me by arriving at Nakote School.

After swiftly wrapping up my work in Nakote we set off on the 20th September back to Timbu and

set of back to Kathmandu on the 21st.

First Aid Training

Teaching the nuns at Ghangyul

My training was based on the First Aid Manual (currently in its 9th edition, I also donated 2 copies to the school) however I had to make many adjustments/changes: In the UK first aider’s are taught to seek medical attention/ambulance aid for many basic and non life-threatening injuries, a situation which would be quite impractical in the Helambu region. I attempted to teach the staff how to judge the severity of an injury; would it require going to a local health post, would it require going to the nearest hospitals (Kathmandu) or would it heal on its own and what warning signs to watch out for later on. Most of the skills went above and beyond the scope

of the book and what would normally be taught or even practiced in the UK due to the absence of a rapidly acting ambulance and emergency service and the lack of readily accessible professional medical advice. I adapted my teaching to suit the needs of the area and taught more practical skills which could be easily used and adapted to fit many situations (such as casualty handling and transport).

At Ghangyul, the lack of English meant I had to improvise with gestures, pictures and demonstrations. This was a steep learning curve but I felt I succeeded in teaching practical first aid knowledge that the nuns could understand. The training methods I developed here were very beneficial to my teachings later on in my expedition.

Teaching Spinal Injuries at Timbu School

I taught how to do a full head-to-toe survey of a casualty and how to assess any injuries. I taught how to clean and dress wounds and how to support/immobilise fractures. This ranged from simple bandages and slings, to full body immobilisation and casualty transport (including how to make improvised stretchers from local materials). I also put an emphasis on teaching spinal injuries because of how the local people transported goods (via a sling round their head). This included how to immobilise and move a person with a suspected spinal injury, how to correctly use cervical collars (I donated 2 to the school) and how to create an improvising long-board (spinal board) for moving casualties.

I would like to thank Nuneaton St John Ambulance unit for teaching me some skills which have been out of practice for many years but where very useful and applicable to the Helambu region.

I would also like to thank a paramedic friend of mine, Colin Jones, for his advice about teaching many things including spinal injuries.

Teaching students at Timbu School

About helambuproject

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