Bhutan 

….Bhutan continues to be a WILD experience.  In the course of a day there is so much opportunity for jury-rigging, innovation, flexibility, and a lot of creativity.  I am reminded now of why I enjoy volunteer work overseas.  The challenges are great, but so are the rewards.  I am finishing up teaching Orthopedic evaluation and treatment, and will be gearing up soon for teaching three senior physios how to teach Pediatrics.  Their goal is to be independent with teaching their own program.  That is a ways off, as they don’t have a curriculum or really the training for teaching…The first ever Paraolympics is coming to Bhutan, and I am looking forward in assisting the Physio Department in developing a training program for any of the disabled athletes who are interested.  The opportunities here are endless….The work here is more rewarding that I could ever imagine.

Grace Brewer-Smith, Physical Therapist, Providence St. Peter Hospital
Sponsored by: Health Volunteers Overseas
Bhutan, June 28 – November 3, 2005

Yesterday while teaching at the Physio Clinic I received a formal invitation to attend Bhutan’s Royal Institute of Health Studies annual graduation ceremony…..The country's Minister of Health, who was sitting on an ornately decorated throne with offerings of fruit, stood to light a large ceremonial butter lamp.  One by one the students, single file, walked to the front and lit their own butter lamp from the Minister’s lamp.  The lamps, numbering 77, were placed in a row before the Minister of Health.  He then stood at a podium to deliver one of the most inspirational speeches I have ever heard.  The crowd of 200 was absolutely silent.  He began by saying that  "Today the health students would represent their country by administering kindness, politeness, and compassion first, and secondly, their technical skills."  He stated that the King of Bhutan has happiness in mind, and that people cannot be happy if they are not healthy.  He said that their goal is that no one in Bhutan should die of preventable illness, and that the students will be the ones to carry out that goal.  He also stated that people are not to be treated as a car parked in the garage, because people have souls that need ministering to whether Buddhist, Hindu, or Christian.  He also implored the Bhutanese students to not waste the country’s resources, that when it is easier to toss medicine or dirty laundry rather than preserving it, that they would remember that they have the opportunity to conserve the country’s resources.  The graduating students would be assigned to different districts throughout the country for a one to three year rotation.  He encouraged the students to accept these assignments with great honor, even if placed in a remote area, and that they should see this as the greatest opportunity for improving the health system in Bhutan.  There was a time of special recognition, at which time he offered thanks to three of us foreigners who have come to teach in the Royal Institute……As I walked back to the Orthopedic ward with my patients, I felt that this day was the highlight of my career as a health professional!

Grace Brewer Smith, Physical Therapist
Providence St. Peter Hospital
Sponsored by: Health Volunteers Overseas
Bhutan, June 28 – November 3, 2005