Imagine a place where quality Ayurvedic care is available to all, in a healthy natural setting and at a cost according to their means.
Expand this vision to include a thirty-bed Ayurvedic center with an Ayurvedic approach to family planning and birthing, traditional health modalities, gardens where medicinal herbs are grown, an herbal pharmacy, and a place which serves as a cross-cultural educational and retreat center for an international community of holistic healthcare practitioners and students. Include also the vision of a center focusing on sustainability an all levels by maintaining the integrity and diversity of the cultural heritage of Ayurveda.
The seeds of such a place now exist in the Himalayan foothills of Nepal, the traditional birthplace of Ayurveda. It is called the Devi Ma Kunja, and is the manifesting dream of Dr. Sarita Shrestha. A “Kunja” means a holistic, serene place filled with positive energy, and “Devi Ma” is the Universal Mother.
Dr. Shrestha is well qualified to be the force behind a center with such an ambitious name. She faced discrimination while pursuing her medical degree. She was told by the principal of the university, ” Women are not able to become Ayurvedic doctors. You should quit now before you begin.” Her response was, “I will try”. She tried and succeeded. Today she is considered a national treasure and has received national and international recognition for her exceptional services and was Nepal’s first woman Ayurvedic MD physician and the first Nepalese Ob/Gyn in Ayurveda. Her accomplishments and dedication to selfless service have inspired other Nepalese women to follow in her footsteps and succeed in becoming doctors themselves.
Dr. Shrestha saw a lack of compassionate care available to many in Nepal, as well as a heavy emphasis placed on allopathic medicines even though Ayurvedic herbs are abundant through-out Nepal. There are only 2 government Ayurvedic hospitals and a few private hospitals in all of Nepal, so they are often poorly supplied and staffed. Dr. Shrestha’s dedication is a response to a growing need. Frequently she does not accept payment for her services. On rare days off she travels to remote villages, giving free health camps, education and medicine or free clinics in Kathmandu. In the past she has also traveled to India to volunteer her services to the children at Sri Ram Orphanage in Haridwar as well as local residents and help to train a group of doctors to provide healthcare there on a regular basis. She regularly travels abroad, teaching Ayurveda, consulting and raising support and donations to build the hospital to supply Nepal’s poorest with medicine and care. She is truly an inspiration.
The Devi Ma Kunja is a unique approach to meeting the extensive healthcare needs of Nepalis. While providing profoundly needed healthcare, it will also function as a unique laboratory illustrating “Ayurveda in action”, for an international community of practitioners and students who will be welcomed to work and learn within this Nepali-run center. The clinical program of the Kunja officially opened its doors to patients in December, 2002. As of now, the clinic is housed in a 6 room rented building in Sipadole, near Bhaktipur, Nepal – a rural community of about 8,000 people, 22 km from Kathmandu. The clinic contains 2 outpatient rooms, two rooms for management and a small garden to supplement the wild herbs collected, and a pharmacy. It provides greatly needed and previously unavailable healthcare services and educational self-care programs to local villagers.
The Devi Ma Kunja is pregnant with possibilities as a holistic model of Ayurvedic healthcare. Very simply, the mission is to provide sustainable healthcare to the people while supporting the natural environment on which their continuing well-being depends. In the words of Dr. Shrestha “Playing is healing, singing and dancing are healing, being in nature is healing. All of these healing ways will be found within the community of the Devi Ma Kunja for all people.”
So little goes such a long way! A contribution of ANY amount will help to support these important on-going services, and will be fully tax deductible. Please participate in the development of its future!