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World Humanitarian Day

World Humanitarian Day Photo courtesy of the United Nations.

In honor of this first World Humanitarian Day, the United Nations created a powerful video with a message from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, highlighting the importance of humanitarian efforts around the world and inspiring us all to renew our commitment to our global community.

Although Interplast does not send volunteers to troubled regions, we would like to recognize our developing world doctors who serve the poor every day, and our devoted volunteers for the invaluable work they do.

In the words of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, “These men and women come from many backgrounds but they share a conviction that one person’s suffering is everyone’s responsibility.”

To all humanitarians on this day, we thank you and admire you for your ongoing commitment to serving those in need.

Dalai Lama Honors Interplast Nepal Director

Photo by Michael Yamashita Photo by Michael Yamshita

A few months ago, we announced that Dr. Shankar Man Rai, director emeritus of Interplast’s surgical outreach center in Nepal, had been named an “Unsung Hero of Compassion.”

On April 26, 2009, the “Unsung Heroes of Compassion Ceremony” was held at the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco, California. It was a touching and humbling event, honoring 49 individuals from across the globe for their service to the worldwide community. Each honoree received a ‘kata,’ a traditional Tibetan blessed scarf, from His Holiness the Dalai Lama as they walked across the stage to receive his blessing. 

The honorees, extremely passionate and generous individuals, head humanitarian causes ranging from the promotion and practice of interfaith dialogue among women in the Middle East to free clinics providing aid for autistic children in Thailand.

Among the honorees was Interplast’s very own Dr. Shankar Man Rai, who has trained more than 50 medical professionals with whom he has performed more than 10,000 free reconstructive surgeries in Nepal. He has taken his efforts to aid the people of Nepal one step further by setting up speech therapy camps to help more than 2,250 children in rural Nepal with their speech impediments. As he continues with his wonderful work, Dr. Rai never forgets his roots. Born to a poor farming family and the first in his family to become an educated professional, Dr. Rai brings a unique empathy for the patients he helps.

Dick Grace, activist, head of Grace Family Vineyards, and one of the co-hosts of the event, summed up the sentiments of those in the room as he explained, “My gurus are the burned, my gurus are the ill, my gurus are the undereducated, my gurus are those without access to opportunity, my gurus are those who are challenged and meet those challenges with dignity.” As Jack Kornfield, a renowned Buddhist teacher, stated about the event, it is “more than anything…about the values of the heart.”

Interplast Featured in Alaska Airlines’ Employee Newsletter

 3Nisha Chaudry, a customer service agent for Alaska Airlines, volunteered with Interplast as a coordinator/translator for a surgical team trip to Dehradun, India in February 2009. Thirteen years after her last visit to India, Nisha was eager to see exactly how changed her homeland was. With high expectations, some anxiety, but mostly excitement, she embarked on both a personal journey and a quest to help others.

Recently, Nisha wrote about this journey and her experience as a volunteer, and the story was published in Alaska Airlines’ employee newsletter. She mentioned, “As a translator, my job was to ask the long line of people waiting to be seen at the clinic how they were injured…I was struck by the physical and emotional pain they live with. It was easy to feel despair, but, instead, I found hope in the eyes of these strangers.”  To read Nisha’s full story click here

Global Health