Welcome to 2014, UMN’s 60th anniversary year!

On 4-5 March 1954, a small group of mission representatives met in Nagpur, India, and hammered out 11 principles that would guide the formation of the United Mission to Nepal. For that reason, 5 March is usually seen as UMN’s birthday, and it’s on that day that we’ll be celebrating at the UMN office in Kathmandu.

There are many other special days to remember during the year, though. The first is 7 January, when Dr Bethel Fleming opened the first clinic at Bhatgaon (Bhaktapur), just two weeks after arriving in the country after an arduous trip by train, vehicle and on foot from Mussourie, India. Later, a 20-bed hospital was built at Bhaktapur. This remained a mission hospital until 1972, when it was amalgamated with the larger government hospital.

These early clinics in the Kathmandu Valley provided the first opportunities ordinary Nepalis had for consultation with a doctor. Here’s how Dr Bethel remembered that opening day.

“One News Year’s Day, Bob [Fleming] and I, Dr Carl [Friedericks], and the nurses went to Bhatgaon to clean up the place, to put fresh papers on the shelves, and to sterilize our equipment for the expected avalanche of patients. Only twenty women and children, however, arrived on the opening day. Kathmandu was trying us out, waiting to see if our strange new medicine really worked.

An old lady with pus dropping out of both her eyes was our first patient. Imagine my concern when I found out that she was the chief midwife for that section of the city!”

(From The Fabulous Flemings of Kathmandu, by Grace NiesFletcher, p 78.)

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