In 1953 two nurses, Betty Bailey and Eileen Lodge, started the first Leprosy hospital in Nepal. This was on the outskirts of Pokhara, a town of about 5,000 people 100 miles west of Kathmandu and one week’s walk away. An airfield, grazed by buffalo was nearby and DC3s flew in daily depending on the weather. There was no electricity and water was carried up a 300ft cliff from the pipe below. They called the hospital ‘Green Pastures’.
There were one or two ‘leprosariums’ in Nepal where those with leprosy could find food and shelter but no medical treatment.
Betty celebrated her 90th birthday recently in Oxford. Someone asked her “How did you know what to do when you started?” “Oh” said Betty “We just did whatever needed to be done each day, and it just developed itself”. By which she meant, we built a few bamboo and thatched cottages – one for themselves included, got in firewood, food, and medicines and just welcomed whoever turned up.
And they did. Some walking for two, three or four weeks to get there, having heard there is hope in Pokhara. They could not go back to their villages from which they had been turned out. Leprosy was greatly feared, some believing that even if they saw someone with leprosy they might catch the disease. Green Pastures flourished with around 100 patients most of the time, with improved housing and kitchens, a hospital building, farming, vegetable growing, buffalos for milk and gas extracted from their dung for cooking.
A country wide Leprosy Control Programme was set up in the early 1970’s. The International Nepal Fellowship was responsible for three fifths of the country. The incidence of cases has dropped from 1 in 100 to 1 in 10,000 of the population, leading to fewer leprosy patients at Green Pastures. After years when no one would go to Green Pastures unless they had to for fear of catching leprosy, amazingly in 2016 an E.N.T. hospital was built on Green Pastures’ Land. It now sees 40 patients a day in out-patients and does up to 18 operations, mainly ears, weekly. They also treat spinal injuries and amputees, and a prosthetic workshop and rehabilitation centre has been opened, to which people come from all over Nepal.
The book ‘Light dawns in Nepal’ shows a leprosy patient holding a Bible. Many became Christians in Green Pastures. The church in Nepal was indigenous from its beginnings in1952 and it has grown from less than a dozen to just about 1 million believers in 67 years. Because of persecutions Christians Nepalis are to be found in many countries of the world.
There was a time of special revival of the church in Nepal in 1966 and it started in ‘Green Pastures’.
Please look at the table in Church for more information. I can get more leaflets printed.
If you borrow the book ‘Light dawns in Nepal’ please could you return it to Margaret Scott-Brown.