On my first visit to Spiti in 1993 with a group of intrepid travellers we visited Kibber, one of the highest villages in the valley.
Dr Laji from the Mission Hospital in Manali was travelling with us. As we emerged from our jeep, a man came running out of his house with his tiny one month old son in his arms and pleaded with the doctor for help. On a quick examination it was easy to see the child had meningitis, his little body was as stiff as a board. We went to the house and looked to see what we had in our medical kit; between us we had some Procain penicillin, a syringe and needle. We gave the child the first dose then instructed the Father on what to do after we left. How to sterilise the syringe and needle in boiling water, how to draw up the correct amount of the antibiotic in the syringe and finally how to inject this little scrap of a baby with no fat on him at all. There was a week’s supply, enough to cure the child. After that we had to leave and say a prayer for his survival.
This little fellow haunted me, once I was back at home I often wondered if he was still alive. There were no mobiles then, the telephone system was minimal, communication was done by the “bush telegraph system”, mostly shouting from the roof tops! The next year I visited Spiti with a team of doctors, our purpose was to hold village clinics where roads permitted around the valley. I couldn’t wait to visit Kibber and as we drove into the village, I felt very anxious, my heart was thumping in my chest – was the little child still alive? To our absolute delight when the Father saw our jeep he came running out of his house with his chubby one year old son in his arms and a Khata* for us all. We were overwhelmed with joy to see this healthy little toddler.
P.S. This boy has grown up into a handsome 24 year old, he recently married a lovely Spiti girl, and I am still in touch with them.
*Khata is the term for a traditional Tibetan offering scarf. Khatas have auspicious symbols or mantras inscribed or woven into the fabric. It represents the sincerity of one’s offering.
JOAN’S ADVENTURE TIP
Travel with your children, off the beaten track to remote areas and open their eyes to different cultures, traditions and religions. This hopefully will make for a more peaceful, tolerant world. It would help us all to appreciate how lucky we are to have the educational opportunities and healthcare facilities we have in this country today!
ABOUT ‘ADVENTURER’S TALES’
A compilation of recollections in celebration of 10 years of Adventure Ashram, ‘Adventurer’s Tales’ is a true celebration of a decade of purposeful adventure by our charity partner Adventure Ashram, a small but mighty charity.
Complete with some great adventure tips, it not only provides handy pointers for when out ‘on the road’, but also some thought-provoking insights into the heart and spirit of adventure. Written with humour, passion and integrity, this wonderful book is a fine tribute to 10 years of Adventure Ashram. Click here to buy a copy.
If you are planning an adventure with Nomadic Knights, please consider raising funds for one of Adventure Ashram’s projects and help to make a difference to the people and places you explore. Anyone planning an adventure can choose to support Adventure Ashram.