Dr Ray Hodgson has been recognised as Humanitarian of the Year by Rotary Zone 8 Australia and New Zealand, for his work with women and children in Nepal.
Hi Dr Ray. How did you feel when you heard about the award?
I was blown away – I had no idea this was coming.
Even though our energy is focused in Nepal, our work takes us to a number of trouble spots around the world, where we work alongside some wonderfully compassionate people. I feel delighted to be given this award, but part of me thinks a number of others deserve just as much recognition.
When we last spoke, you were about to launch your book – Heartbreak in the Himalayas. How has the book been received, and are there copies still available to purchase?
I’m thrilled to say that Heartbreak in the Himalayas is selling exceptionally well. It’s now on to its fourth printing run, and it’s just made it to Number One on the Amazon Bestseller List.
Copies of the book are available at Bookface in Port Macquarie, or on our website at www.A4WH.org
The first part has also just been released as an eBook.
It’s great for Heartbreak to be doing so well because all profits from the sales fund the construction of our Mothers and Babies Hospital in Nepal. But there’s another plus to the success of the book: we’re getting the word out there of the appalling state of health in women and their babies in Nepal. These desperate people don’t have any means to fix their problems, and they don’t have a voice. We have both of these. And the more of us who learn of the plight of these people, the greater the chance we can end their suffering.
How’s the Mothers and Babies Hospital you’re involved with constructing in Dolakha, Nepal progressing?
We’re not far away from the start of construction of our Mothers and Babies Hospital. As we speak, the road into the hospital is being excavated. Tenders for the hospital construction will be announced in October, and we expect work on the hospital itself will begin later this year.
We’ve trained up local Nepalese doctors and nurses and midwives. We’ve got pathology staff, technicians, hospital cleaning staff and administrators. We’re all ready to go with the hospital – it’s just that we don’t have a building to put them in yet.
We need $500,000 to build the hospital. To date, we’ve raised just over $380,000. And, we’re pushing on as hard as we can to raise the last $120,000. Once we’ve done this, and the hospital is built, Rotary International has pledged to fully fit out the hospital with all equipment. Our own club here in Port Macquarie Rotary has been magnificent in their support for our project.
What plans do you have for the rest of this year – especially related to your humanitarian work?
It’s going to be a very full rest of the year. Later this month, I’ll be off to New Zealand and the United States to promote the book in those two countries. Soon after that, it’s back to Nepal for another surgical camp, where we’ll be training more Nepalese doctors and nurses in the treatment of severe genital prolapse. On this trip, we’ll be taking with us some of the techniques we use to train our own medical students at our Clinical School in Port Macquarie.
Training local medical staff in Nepal is a major focus of our work. The whole top floor of our hospital will be entirely devoted to teaching. Our aim is to create a hospital that can eventually work independently, without regular input from us. Ultimately, when we discuss our hospital project, we want to be able to say that our work has been so successful that we’ve done ourselves out of a job!
How can FOCUS readers assist you with the vital work you’re doing … are we able to make a donation, and do you need volunteers to help on the ground in Nepal?
We still need lots of support for our Mothers and Babies Hospital. It’s a competitive world out there, the charity world – we understand that. And there’s a healthy cynicism about donations and where your money actually goes. With our organisation, AUSTRALIANS FOR WOMEN’S HEALTH, every single cent that’s donated goes directly to Nepal and our hospital project – donations do not contribute to administrative or any other overhead costs. (These expenses are all covered from profits from Port Macquarie Ultrasound.)
Visiting www.A4WH.org will let you know how you can help, either with a donation or as a potential volunteer.
Buying a book will help us achieve our dream. And even the smallest donation will help us even more.
Thanks, Dr Ray.