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A simple Buddhist monk from Nepal

Earlier this month, healthcare worker, Buddhist monk and One Young World ambassador Wangchuk Rapten Lama, travelled thousands of miles to attend the inaugural Hippocratic Post Awards for Student Medical Journalism at City, University of London. He met fellow guests and speakers including the President of Medicins Sans Frontieres UK, Dr Paul McMaster, and concluded the ceremony with this powerful speech and about his life and work in Nepal.

My name is Wangchuk Rapten Lama and I am a simple Buddhist monk from Nepal. For those of you who do not know Nepal, it is a small landlocked country sandwiched between two Asian giants, India and China.

Nepal is among the poorest and least developed countries in the world. Around a third of the population lives on less than 50 cents per day. About 41 per cent of the country’s children under the age of five are stunted. Mortality rates are high, especially in remote mountain villages where people die of common diseases. I have had first hand experience of this since my own mother passed away because of a minor treatable disease, jaundice. This is what inspired me to become a healthcare and social worker.

When I was seven years old, in 1998, my parents arranged for me to go into a Buddhist monastery in Kathmandu, which is the capital of Nepal. They knew I would be well looked after and would get a good education. I have been a monk ever since. Whatever I am today, I owe to my guru, Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche. It is because of him that I am healthy today and have completed my education, qualifying as a healthcare assistant and being able to help many people through healthcare and other humanitarian projects.

In 2014, a friend of mine told me about One Young World, the global charity devoted to bringing together young leaders from all over the world. I was lucky enough to be picked to attend the One Young World conference in Dublin, Ireland, and became an ambassador. The experience really inspired me to do more for others. When a massive earthquake hit Nepal on 25th April 2015, I was ready to fundraise and organise rescue missions into the remote mountain villages where no aid could otherwise reach. In total, I lead 33 helicopter missions, rescuing people and providing emergency aid supplies as well as organising free health camps. 

Last year, I built a health clinic in my village and since then there has been a positive change in the daily life of the people living there. Today, when I see my friends and neighbours happy and healthy, it gives me a sense of satisfaction as well as motivating me to do more for local communities in these areas. 

I would like to thank Thea Jourdan for helping me publish my stories on Hippocratic Post and inviting me to celebrate the Hippocratic Post Awards for Student Medical Journalism. 

Lastly, I would like to thank the entire team at the Hippocratic Post for creating this big family to achieve a common goal of helping others, inspiring and being inspired and ultimately creating a beautiful and better world.

If I may, I would like to leave you with the Buddhist main teaching, ‘Help if you can help.’

Wangchuk Rapten
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