Nepali mis­sion­ar­ies bring grat­i­tude to Elk­ton

Churches have sup­ported aid mis­sion overseas

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - IS­SUE By BRI­ANNA SHEA

bshea@ce­cil­whig.com

— From all out­ward ap­pear­ances, the Zim­mer­man fam­ily stay­ing in town over the next few months looks like many other fam­i­lies in the county.

But this fam­ily of mis­sion­ar­ies re­cently re­turned state­side af­ter work­ing in Nepal, a far­away Asian

ELK­TON

coun­try sand­wiched be­tween China and In­dia per­haps best known for its side of Mount Ever­est and its re­cently scut­tled monar­chy.

The Zim­mer­man fam­ily is now stay­ing in a home pro­vided by the Wes­ley United Methodist Church for two months, said Deirdre Zim­mer­man, a mis­sion­ary with the General Board of Global Min­istries (GBGM) of the United Methodist Church. While on home as­sign­ment, they will meet mem­bers of churches who have sup­ported them fi­nan­cially, through prayer or both, in the United States and Ire­land, she said. Their two sons are at­tend­ing North East Mid­dle School while in the county.

“We think it’s a great place,” said Deirdre’s hus­band, Mark. “We could even set­tle in a place like this.”

Mark has worked in Kath­mandu, Nepal’s cap­i­tal, since 1986, while Deirdre be­gan her work there in 1997.

He be­gan work­ing in Nepal as a hospital-based

clin­i­cal doc­tor, where he treated lo­cal pa­tients, but four years into his ser­vice he met GBGM mis­sion­ar­ies in the coun­try. Af­ter learn­ing of their work help­ing the Nepali while also spread­ing their Chris­tian faith, Mark soon signed on him­self.

Mean­while, Deirdre be­came a mis­sion­ary through the Church Mis­sion So­ci­ety, an in­ter­faith mis­sion­ary or­ga­ni­za­tion, in Ire­land. She was sent to Nepal to help im­prove health and nu­tri­tion of the Nepali.

The cou­ple met through their work in Nepal, af­ter Mark sought help with his pa­tients’ di­ets at a mis­sion hospital. They were mar­ried in 2000 and con­tin­ued on with their mis­sion­ary work un­der the GBGM, even­tu­ally in­clud­ing their chil­dren in the work as well.

Today, they work in Global Health, a sub­sec­tion of GBGM, where their pur­pose is to con­trib­ute to im­prov­ing the health care in the coun­try, Mark said.

“It’s sim­ply that part of the Chris­tian be­lief is that ev­ery­one should have ac­cess to good health and the be­lief that that’s part of God’s pur­pose,” Deirdre added.

She works as a nu­tri­tion­ist and di­eti­tian with the Nu­tri­tion Pro­mo­tion and Con­sul­tancy Ser­vices, a lo­cal Nepali non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion that trains and ed­u­cates about mal­nu­tri­tion in women and chil­dren. Nepal has el­e­vated lev­els of mal­nu­tri­tion in these two groups.

Deirdre said the NPCS’ ef­forts have ex­tended far past just ed­uca- tion though. Af­ter a 7.8-mag­ni­tude earth­quake struck the coun­try last year, killing thou­sands, in­jur­ing far more and leav­ing whole com­mu­ni­ties home­less, the non­profit strived to aid the af­fected women who they had pre­vi­ously trained and ed­u­cated. They cre­ated kits that in­cluded lo­cal food and passed them out to preg­nant women, women who breast­feed and to those with chil­dren un­der age 2.

Deirdre said she is in the process of ap­ply­ing for fund­ing, and the NCPS hopes to start a fol­lowup train­ing pro­gram in July and Au­gust.

Mean­while, Mark said he has treated scores of pa­tients since he be­gan work­ing in Nepal, a coun­try still striv­ing to move out of “least de­vel­oped na­tion” sta­tus.

De­spite its sta­tus, Mark said the medicine in the coun­try is ac­tu­ally “quite amaz­ing and could do a lot for peo­ple with less,” which was a fac­tor in­flu­enc­ing him to stay in the coun­try, while the other was his com­mit­ment to his faith.

Mark de­scribed help­ing a lo­cal Nepali woman, who told him that things be­gan to “go bad for her” when her third child and her niece fell off a bridge cross­ing the Ta­makoshi River. A lo­cal dove into the river to save the pa­tient’s niece, but her in­fant was never re­cov­ered.

The woman suf­fered from a chronic cough and fever, among other symp­toms. Mark was able to di­ag­nose her with tu­ber­cu­lo­sis as well as epilepsy.

A few days be­fore he left, he saw the pa­tient again and she told him she was feel­ing bet­ter fol­low­ing treat­ment, al­though she still suf­fered from anx­i­ety.

He said he did noth­ing “heroic” to treat her.

“Nei­ther was hard to di­ag­nose and nei­ther was hard to treat,” he said.

The fam­ily will re­turn to Nepal the first week of Au­gust, where Deirdre will con­tinue her work to ad­dress mal­nu­tri­tion while Mark will re­turn to Patan Hospital, a fa­cil­ity where he served as med­i­cal di­rec­tor for seven years, where he will train doc­tors in the coun­try.

PHOTO COURTESY OF MARK ZIM­MER­MAN

Deirdre Zim­mer­man speaks to a group of Nepali women dur­ing one of the fam­ily’s re­cent mis­sion­ary trips.

PHOTO COURTESY OF MARK ZIM­MER­MAN

Mark Zim­mer­man poses with two men in Nepal dur­ing one of his re­cent mis­sion­ary trips to the Asian coun­try.

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