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Our History

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As a child growing up in a remote region of Nepal, Dr Aban Gautam was accustomed to frequent infections— and dangerously long journeys to the nearest hospital.

His mother would find someone from the community to carry him on their back to take him to the nearest health centre two days away from where he lived. It was all barefoot—through the rivers, through the jungles.

The inaccessibility of healthcare in critical moments stuck with Gautam, who went on to become a prominent doctor and founder of Mountain Heart Nepal (non-profit NGO), which brings mobile medical clinics to those in need in rural regions of the country. For years, Gautam has travelled across Nepal supplying life-saving medicines, equipment, and medical care to some of the poorest communities in Nepal.

When the Nepalese government began building a tunnel from the capital city of Kathmandu to the Terai region through the largely impoverished Makwanpur district (where the average household earns about $1.90 USD per day), he saw an opportunity. Currently, it takes about six hours to travel from Makwanpur to Kathmandu. With the addition of the tunnel, travel to and from the district is estimated to take only one hour. Additionally, Makwanpur’s administrative city, Hetauda, is connected to the low-land Terai region by a network of highways, making travel between the two relatively easy. If a hospital were to be built in that region, it would allow those in the Makwanpur district, and the larger Terai region of Nepal, to gain access to potentially life-saving medical care through doctors from the capital city- Kathmandu. Gautam decided to build this hospital— one that would change the face of healthcare in Nepal forever. He would call it the Siddhasthali Hospital Project.

To gain funding, Gautam started gathering information. The region was desperately in need of healthcare, especially once COVID-19 began. While pregnant women were scared to go to the hospital, midwives feared entering other homes. As a result, pregnant women were delivering their children at homes without professional care, causing complications like postpartum haemorrhage, as well as high infant and maternal mortality rates. COVID-19 patients were dying due to a lack of oxygen. Preventable diseases were turning fatal. The need was there, so he got to work.

 
Ongoing Construction of Siddhasthali Rural Community Hospital

Gautam and his team developed a plan for a multi-level, 15-bed medical care centre that would add value to the community in various ways. The doctor would be staffed with top-notch volunteer doctors, bringing professional healthcare to a community that sorely needed it— but it would also have economic, social, educational, and environmental benefits.

The hospital would set a standard for sustainability. For instance, Siddhasthali would grow cotton, which would be used in lieu of plastic for hospital gowns and other medical necessities. The farming of the cotton, as well as the construction and maintenance of the building, would provide jobs for local workers. The project was intricately planned to change the lives of the people of Hetauda, and it was on track to be built by 2022.

But the challenge of building a hospital amid a government change, a global pandemic, and monsoon season has delayed things. In 2020 Gautam received permission from the local government to build on a plot of land, only to learn later that the local government still did not actually have the authority to provide that land. COVID outbreaks ravaged the Nepalese population and put the country into lockdown, so construction was delayed. Monsoon season, too, has made progress difficult. Gautam’s expertly laid plans have become difficult to execute.

Still, Gautam has had help from significant organizations. World’s Top humanitarian organization based in California-Direct Relief (Mountain Heart Nepal’s long term partner) has donated over $400,000 to the project, which has contributed to the acquisition of the land, the construction of the building, and the establishment of an oxygen plant for COVID-19 patients. Chance for Nepal (a UK based charity) has donated funds for the beds, an incubator for infants, a hospital garden to be designed by Andy Sturgeon, and a wheelchair. The investment that these groups have poured into the Siddhasthali Hospital Project bodes well for its outcome.

This hospital will be built. But we need donations, we need the support of the community, we need skilled workers. So much good can come of this project. We have committed ourselves to this community, and we are determined to make it happen no matter what.