Okhaldhunga Celebrates 50 Years of Service
Okhaldhunga Celebrates 50 Years of Service

All roads led to Okhaldhunga in eastern Nepal last week, and all of them were extremely dusty! But people travelling to help the team and community celebrate the Golden Jubilee of UMN’s work in the district didn’t mind. It was a great opportunity to remember the contributions of the pioneers, and share with the hospital and community their exciting vision for the future.

Established by Church of Scotland mission doctor James Dick and his team in 1962, the hospital has grown from a tiny dispensary operating out of two rented houses to a 30-bed hospital offering a wide range of health services. During the 1980s and 90s, a large rural development project included work in literacy, agriculture, water and sanitation, income generation and nutrition in some of the poorest areas of the district. The hospital still has a strong community health program, providing support and training to government Health Posts in 11 localities. The ambitious new building program will see the hospital renovated and extended to provide beds for more than 50 patients.

Special guests at the Jubilee celebrations included Gauharka Rai, the village mukya (headman) who provided the houses for the early dispensary, and Ella Dick, youngest daughter of James Dick, who read a congratulatory letter from her father. Ella, who was born in Okhaldhunga, found this first trip back since her

childhood a very moving experience. She was thrilled to see how the work her father started all those years ago has continued, and affected the lives of so many people. Bir Bahadur Rai, the first pastor of the Okhaldhunga church, reflected on how God has moved in the district, both through UMN’s work and through the church itself.

Okhaldhunga has always had a strong Norwegian connection, ever since Pastor Robert Bergsacker accompanied James Dick on an exploratory mission in 1958, and Odd Hofton designed the first hospital buildings in 1962. Current UMN appointees Erick (hospital medical director) and Kristen Bohler were pleased to welcome the current Norwegian Ambassador to Nepal, Alf Arne Ramslien, as Chief Guest.  Mr Ramslien congratulated the staff and community, and expressed his delight that a partnership between people in Norway and in Nepal could be so productive.

We join with the team in Okhaldhunga in thanking God for his gracious provision over the past 50 years, and committing this work into his hands for the future.

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