My Experience with the Nomads Clinic

I’m with the Nomads Clinic under the auspices of the Upaya Zen Center based in NM under the direction of Roshi Joan Halifax who leads this Nepal trip. This is Roshi’s 19th year with Nomads and 39th year for trips and service work in Nepal. Roshi selects the western folks who comprise this trip. We number 26 made up of medical practitioners writers, photographers, artists, climbers and support team. We are in partnership with the Rinpoche from the Dolpo area and his high ranking Llamas. Together with Sunny Trek Co of Nepal made up of staff and countless horses and mules we head out on our adventure. Suffice it to say I’m honored to share and participate in such an extraordinary group of people. After a myriad of travel delays due to hurricane activity we all made it to Kathmandu. Our pre trek event was to host a clinic for the Rohingya refugees at one of their camps. We arrived and learned more of their culture, challenges and need. I was in charge of providing an art experience for the children of the camp. My sister Leslie and I had planned our project in the states so we were ready with supplies, support and approach. The children are stunningly beautiful and all ages joined. They wanted only to be with us and create there was no rush. We celebrated them and invited each to draw and create something about themselves or their community that they value. Renderings of place, love, and family dominated. Some also drew the boats that brought them to Nepal. Quite meaningful and profound. We connected their images with unbroken lines to create community and hung their art as a mural outside for all to see. During this process there was a teenage girl who shyly indicated she would like to participate. She was beautiful and talented inside and out and grasped the concepts immediately and she was the one to connect and create community with her line drawings. At the end she could not come out of her home per her cultural customs. As I was cleaning up her mother came into the art room and tried a few of the supplies and then the two of them proceeded to share their own experience oblivious of my presence but I’m grateful to have witnessed their homes or the camp without escort and they do not speak Nepali. Their children receive education 1st to 8th grade. The Rohingya have little access, rights or opportunities as refugees and the women live the culture of not leaving.

– Amy MacDonald