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Osaka-based Nepalese doctor calls for support for quake-hit homeland

by Chiho Iuchi

Staff Writer

Osaka-based doctor Samantha Tamrakar is seeking support for the rescue effort underway in her homeland of Nepal, which is reeling from two devastating earthquakes that have killed thousands and left tens of thousands more homeless.

Tamrakar, 33, one of the recipients of this year’s scholarships provided by the College Women’s Association of Japan, spoke about the disasters during a short interview with The Japan Times on the occasion of a CWAJ meeting in Tokyo last Wednesday, a day after the latest quake struck eastern Nepal.

“This scholarship not only helps me continue studying in Japan, but also rescue my country,” she said.

Since its inception in 1949, CWAJ, which is open to women of any nationality in Japan, has sought to foster international friendship through educational initiatives and cross-cultural exchanges. The Tokyo-based nonprofit organization is best known for its print shows, which have run annually since 1956. All the profits from the shows go toward the CWAJ scholarship program, which was established in 1972.

Tamrakar, one of two recipients of this year’s scholarships for foreign women, has been in Japan since April 2014 and is currently studying for a doctorate in neurosurgery at Osaka City University (OCU) Graduate School of Medicine under the tutelage of professor Kenji Ohata. She says she has always aspired to be one of the first female neurosurgeons in Nepal, and to deepen her knowledge about this field of medicine.

“There are only three female neurosurgeons serving in my country,” Tamrakar said. “I learned about Japanese medical education from my mentor, Dr. Prabin Shrestha, who did his Ph.D. at Hiroshima University,” said Tamrakar, who finished her Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery programs in China and then worked for four years back in Nepal.

While neurosurgeons in Nepal only have the option of taking a general course within the country, “There are many branches among neurosurgery in Japan, so we can be more specialized in a specific field,” said Tamrakar, who has keen interest in epilepsy, which, despite affecting an estimated 1 percent of the global population, is still poorly understood.

Worried about the ongoing situation in Nepal, Tamrakar is preparing to join the rescue and recovery effort, with the support of her teachers and colleagues in Osaka.

“Due to the two major earthquakes, the airport is closed for the moment, but as soon as it is open, I want to fly back and to be of some help to my country,” she said. “When I return, I shall be helping Dr. Shrestha at the Kathmandu Neuro Center and Polyclinic.”

During the luncheon meeting, which was also attended by Abmbika Bhattarai, wife of the ambassador of Nepal, CWAJ president Nancy Nussbaum called for donations to support the disaster relief effort.

OCU has lent its support to Tamrakar by making one of its bank accounts available to receive donations from the public. The details are as follows:

Bank: Osaka City Shinkin Bank, Osaka City University Hospital Sub-branch
Account type: ordinary (futsū)
Account number: 8013134
Account holder: Kyojukai Arakawa Tetsuo

“This is the account of the OCU Graduate School of Medicine faculty council represented by Dean Arakawa,” professor Ohata said. “We will channel the donations to directly support Tamrakar’s relief efforts in Kathmandu.”

Your comments and questions: lifelines@japantimes.co.jp

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