21 August – Back to the hospital

The first day we arrived in Leh a month ago, do you remember?  I was suffering from Dehli Belly and I had to go to the Leh Hospital.  They treated me for the magnificent sum of Rs2. 

Fast forward to this morning…. I was volunteering at the LBA again and the pickup truck I jumped into took us to the same hospital where I was treated last month.  It was nice to repay some more of the debt I owed them but it was shocking to see the place again.  Despite many volunteers working for the past two weeks, as well as the hospital’s own workers, several rooms were still a meter deep in mud.  Because the hospital was so close to the mountain that made the tragic “donation”, the mud was the thickest, wettest and foulest smelling I had encountered.  Working all day, about 20 of us could not even finish clearing two four-bed rooms.  I walked through the hospital at lunch time and everything they had was a total write-off.  Air-conditioners, beds, desks, medical equipment, doors, windows, everything was caked in mud or broken and no longer usable.  Basically, the walls, ceiling and floors were the only things salvaged.  The emergency room had been cleaned enough that they were painting the walls.  The clinic area where I was treated was in the finally cleaning stage before re-painting.  The wards, operating theatre, storage areas and some admin offices were mostly cleared of the deep mud but a layer remained and the muddy equipment, furniture and broken doors, and air-conditioners also needed to be removed.  Outside, bulldozers were busy trying to clear the mountains of rubble and mud that had been shoveled out from inside.  All very sad.

The Operating Room

Ladakh normally gets just a few inches of rain per year.  In the past fifty years, they have never had anything like this.  In living memory, several residents said that they could only remember one storm four years ago that washed out a small bridge and two years ago a storm that washed away a road that ran next to the river south of town.  Both problems were tiny in comparison but also recent.  Has climate change hit Ladakh??  What will the future bring?

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