Tuesday, January 26, 2016

When the Sturges Family was Here!

Do you know the history of Scheer Memorial Hospital?

Here is our website's history page:

Dr. Stanley and Mrs. Raylene Sturges were the first SDA missionary family in Nepal.

In 1962, Dr. Sturges wrote an article for Listen magazine.
The link is here:

You will have to click the link to see the pictures, but here is the full article
for your convenience:

Stanley Sturges, a United States medical doctor working for the mountain peoples of far-off Nepal, is a young man of dedication and daring who cares enough—

To Give His Very Best

F ROM the very first my wife and I have been interested in some type of pioneer assignment, particularly since my parents were missionaries in the Congo province of Katanga. Because of this, when we had an opportunity to go to Nepal, we knew it was exactly what we wanted. 

After six months of language study in India, I went looking for a suitable hospital-clinic site in the Nepal mountains. En route I passed through the village of Banepa, a short distance northeast of the Nepal capital, Kathmandu. While I was there, the headman and 10,000 of the local tribesmen staged a demonstration urging that their town be chosen for this new medical facility. 

After the villagers took up a collection of 7,000 rupees and purchased a plot of land above the town, it was given to the king on condition that it be used for the American doctor. The minister of health immediately assigned us to Banepa. Then came construction of roads, bridges, water pipelines, and living quarters for our family, and the securing of hospital assistants from India. 

The Nepalese immediately began to "customize" a local building for me, since I am six feet and four inches in height. This meant the raising of the doors to six feet and six inches and the ceiling to eight feet. 

On the first day of work, we broke a centuries-old taboo by treating a woman with a retained placenta after she gave birth to her baby. When I began examining the woman, all the midwives warned me not to touch her. So I left, but the husband asked me to come back again. With the promise that the husband would keep any intruders out and allow me to do what I felt necessary, I trudged back to the home. A few minutes later, after squeezing the placenta out from the abdominal side, I again left, this time with the confidence of the midwives. Henceforth the clinic was in the business of treating women as well as men. 

Parasites are a major medical problem in Nepal. The people have no concept whatsoever of sanitation and hygiene. Consequently, a good 95 percent are infested with some type of worms, about 6o percent of them having hookworms. Also, typhoid, cholera, and smallpox rage in periodic epidemics. Tuberculosis constitutes a major health problem, too, with at least io percent of the population afflicted. 

At first we were equipped with only a clinic, but we kept wishing and hoping for a hospital. This dream came nearer to reality when we received a $25,000 memorial donation from the Clifford Scheer family of Springfield, New Jersey. I talked with Oden Meeker, head of CARE in India, regarding equipment. Ultimately, CARE agreed to match a mission gift of $5,000 from the Seventh-day Adventist Southern Asia Division. 

To keep costs down, we carried on our own building program. While a student I had worked as a plumber, painter, and carpenter to finance my high school and college education. So with this background of experience I hired the best native help available, secured some mud and dung, and went into the bricklaying business. Six months later the prime minister of Nepal and more than 3,000 townsmen gathered at the Scheer Memorial Hospital for the dedication of another demonstration of America's friendship for Nepal. 

The Nepalese are about 70 percent Hindu and 30 percent Buddhist. You might think the religions would not get along too well, but the situation is such that the Hindu people enjoy thoroughly a Buddhist festival, and vice versa. 

In spite of their religions, the Nepalese have a drinking problem. They go on drinking sprees during their festivals, with widespread drunkenness as a result. Their liquor is made from rice which is fermented and distilled. They call this rakshi, and they have a mash made from cornmeal which is called janr. 

Drinking during their festivals must be considered one of their favorite pastimes, although there are a few of the orthodox Nepalese who do not drink at all. 

As far as smoking is concerned, the Nepalese smoke, in small clay pipes, an opium derivative called ganja. When I ask what effects it has on the body, they say it gives them peace. 

A hookah is a type of pipe in which a long rubber tube is connected to a water trap. For use in this the leaves of the tobacco plant are mixed with a sort of brown sugar. The Nepalese call it sucker, and it gives off a sweet-smelling smoke. It provides a certain atmosphere to the village at night when you hear this gurgling sound, for you know that someone is awake and enjoying his evening rest. 

There is a lot of confusion these days as to what role America plays in this world, what the image of America is in these underdeveloped countries, and what direction these countries will take in the years ahead. So it appears to me that we need to strain every nerve to apply the ideals of the Christian West in our dealings with other people. Thus, my wife and I have never considered either of these two habits of drinking and smoking. We feel they are unnecessary to our well being. 

 I was reared in a Seventh-day Adventist home and my parents always were careful to point out the disastrous effects that can come from such habits. Our church bases its beliefs on a text of Scripture admonishing us to keep in mind that our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit, that Christ dwells in us, and that by defiling our bodies we are actually defiling the temple of God. 

Oftentimes my friends ask me why I don't smoke or drink. I like to ask them a question right back: "What benefit do you derive from doing these things?" 

The Nepalese people are looking toward the West for their methods of government. They certainly admire the American way of life. They have many students who have gone to America and have returned and reported on the spirit of the American people. 

We are parents of four children, but probably will never forget the birth of our youngest son, Jimmy. Raylene gave birth to him on a black Himalayan night while I jeeped down the rocky trail toward the United Medical Mission Hospital at Katmandu, sixteen miles and two hours away. 

As she writhed in labor, her baby turned so that a natural birth was impossible. Raylene fought back tears of agony while I struggled with the jeep. Suddenly the jeep lurched to the right near the edge of a cliff, jolting Raylene. "Stanley, I think she's changed position," she gasped. 

I halted the jeep, and near the edge of a cliff in the darkness, Raylene gave birth, not to "she," but to nine pound Jimmy. The delivery accomplished, I started on toward Katmandu, but Raylene wanted to return home. Somehow I turned the jeep around on the narrow trail and headed back to the clinic at Banepa. 

Back at the hospital we resumed our previous schedules in a short time, continuing to give medical attention to hundreds of Nepalese, 95 percent of whom neither read nor write. But this picture is changing. Until 1950-51 Nepal had been a closed nation, but now with the aid of the United States Government the Nepalese are making great strides in education. 

They have set up a college of education for the training of teachers. About 850 primary schools have been set up, these schools being maintained on a fifty-fifty basis by the local government and by the Nepali government. So the educational future of Nepal is brightening. 

Many youth today are interested in serving their country and their church in some overseas country. When a person thinks in terms of working in an undeveloped country, he must keep himself adaptable. For example, if all you see is the filth and the slums, you might as well turn around and go back. A person must be flexible in his attitude and must be willing to see through the eyes of another person. In this way he can be of real service and help to all in need. 

Listen, July-August, 1962, pages 12, 13, & 14

Thank you Dr. & Mrs. Sturges!
You will always be remembered with love!

We also want to thank our supporters and friends for their prayers and help
during this difficult time in Nepal.  THANKS!

To keep current, you can read this article:

Stay tuned for more information and have a nice day!

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