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A Psychotherapist in Kathmandu (6)

At 4:45 we set off for the mountains.
Outside it was dark as Kathmandu started to wake up with the first signs of motorbikes coming and going. Four of us went downstairs with our luggage to meet the others who were already in the jeep.  I met the driver, the clinical psychologist, the country representative and the psychiatric nurse. All Nepali.  We organised the sitting plan and I was very happy I was given the front seat as I tend to be travel sick. I took the tablet and hoped all would be ok.

In a hour we started climbing up the mountains leaving the dusty view of Kathmandu behind us.  Even though I was still uncertain whether I would enjoy the hard trip ahead I was able to enjoy the beauty of the scenery and the exciting sense of going off on a Summer holiday. The road was not as bad as I imagined it would be but despite a million bends left and right. 

I felt guilty thinking how uncomfortable it must be for the three people sitting in the very back of the jeep but I was sure I’d find it very difficult to cope with the long trip sitting elsewhere. The music was on a bit too loudly but I didn’t feel I had the rights to complain from what felt like my royal seat! The driver kept looking at me as if he understood how I was feeling. I am sure he knew what a beginner I was in this type of mission. He was very kind and aware. Even though we couldn’t speak much we were able to make a connection through eye contact.

After two hours we made our first stop at a very basic place where people had coffees and sandwiches. I didn’t feel like having anything.  The toilet was in a little house on a hill where you have to squat down –not unfamiliar to me as when I was a child in rural areas of Brazil this was common. To our great excitement we found marijuana growing wildly in the fields. We took pictures with the plants and put it in our hair like rebellious and excited teenagers.

We continued driving through the mountains and following a stream of water which was becoming bigger and bigger. The sun was shining in the water creating a painterly masterpiece. We kept taking pictures of the mountains getting higher and higher. The beauty was impressively intimidating. I felt very small in comparison to its grandiosity.  After listening to Indian and English music it was time to listen to some Brazilian. I found myself feeling emotional and amazingly closed to home in such a distant part of the world. I was lost in my thoughts realising how different and similar we can all be in our humanity.  

We reached our highest point and the end of our days travel at about 9pm. The next day we left very early to Ilan Bazar the capital of a region called Ilan, one of the poorest places in Nepal, situated in the very middle of the mountain south of Kathmandu. It was time to deliver a workshop on mental health to health assistants in the region. 

Health Assistants are paid by the government. Not a great salary but it gives them a status of superiority. I was curious to why there were only men doing the job and which take they had on mental health issues. Later I learnt that the best jobs in Nepal are in fact taken by men because there is a general assumption they are more skilled to do it. I felt angry and lost in my thoughts imagining whether one day the women would rebel and overturn this very male dominated society.   Women get the worse and hardest jobs. For example, they are the ones who carry stones to help the men with building and the majority of tea leaf pickers are women. They carry a basket on their head that almost becomes another limb in their body.  Unsurprisingly, many women have terrible problems in their spine for being in that position too long.

We had two days of workshop. It was a time for us to understand their work placements and try to understand their deepest needs…

See my next post for details of our workshops with the Health Assistants… 

Testimonials

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Head-teacher of Woolmore School, Tower Hamlets

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Parent, 2023

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Parent, 2023

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Head-teacher of St Saviour’s School, Tower Hamlets

You have helped me build a barrier of protection against pain and I can’t thank you enough for that…I have never felt so emotionally strong.

Student, aged 15

Child in Time is a tremendous resource for head-teachers. It’s a consultancy that offers a short-cut to setting up a counselling service in your school with highly trained, qualified practitioners. Child in Time brings peace of mind to staff, knowing that the most vulnerable students are in safe hands.

Tereza Nogueira, Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist and Senior supervisor UKCP

This intervention has had an enormous, positive impact for us all and we sincerely hope that other families benefit from the same programme…his positive behaviour is having a really good impact on all elements of his school life.

Parent of child, age 8

I am glad I am coming to see you every Thursday because I used to hold all these things in my head and that was hard.

Girl, age 10

We are very happy with the counselling service we are receiving and in particular ‘our therapist’s’ flexible and accommodating nature. Parents are very pleased, both the target children’s parents and the consultation one’s too.

SENCO, Rhodes Avenue School, Haringey

She is an outstanding therapist who has made a real difference to the lives of pupils in our school. ‘Our therapist’ possesses excellent skills in connecting with others, creating a safe space for staff, parents and pupils to discuss a range of issues. Her expertise, compassion, and dedication are truly commendable and we have really benefited from her thorough understanding of child development and psychology.

Deputy Head, Highgate Pre-Prep

I want to say thank you. I found these sessions very very helpful. I could talk about anything with you. I remember our first one, when I was so worried that everything was my fault. I can now see things more clearly.

student, age 11