Medicine Man: Henry Ashworth takes EC-ERT and Empathy to Nepal

Journalist: Josie Brett| Editor: Trish Schranck 


“Eckerd taught me the simple lesson that if you have a vision and the drive and energy to work towards it, it becomes possible,” says Henry Ashworth, a 2016 Eckerd College graduate. Ashworth, who graduated with degrees in Biochemistry and Philosophy last May, is currently pursuing a joint Masters in Public Health from University College Dublin (UCD) and a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Grant. He is also a recipient of the Ford Apprentice Program at Eckerd, a two-year scholarship that encourages undergraduates with outstanding academic performances to pursue a career in teaching.

On March 7th, 2017, Ashworth arrived in Lumbini, Nepal with the first half of his Master’s program under his belt, ready to begin his Fulbright grant work. He’s currently involved with three primary projects in Nepal: working as a full-time English teacher in a rural school; conducting his Master’s thesis on the quality of life and access to health care in rural Lumbini, Nepal; and working alongside Eckerd alumni Zena Marpet (Class of ‘16) and Haven Allard (Class of ‘16) for the Lumbini Social Service Foundation (LSSF) to start an emergency response team in Lumbini. 

This third project is particularly special to Ashworth. As one of the first recruits and former Training Coordinator of Eckerd College’s own Emergency Response Team, 
Ashworth has personal experience building programs like this from the ground up. When the Eckerd team started, they were just a small group of twelve working from the Epsilon lounge closet. But thanks to the hard work of recruits like Ashworth, Eckerd’s current program has over forty members. “Working as a responder…showed me my love for emergency medicine, gave me the pedagogical tools to teach, and taught me about empathy,” said Ashworth.

Now he’s taking the skills he learned on Eckerd’s team to start the Lumbini Emergency Response Network (LERN) in Nepal. By this time next year, his goal is to have LERN fully operational. Another goal for next year is for LERN to become a model for other rural areas in need of an emergency response network. To see this vision realized, he hopes to have open-sourcing of training materials, a logistical set-up plan, and a standard set of operating procedures ready and accessible for those who want to start their own team.

To do that, Ashworth is collaborating with the LSSF, a non-profit organization managed by the local Lumbini community. “Currently,” Ashworth said “the LSSF already have a motorcycle.” However, he wants to fundraise for a second in case of mechanical failure or increased demand. Fundraising, however, has proved to be his biggest challenge thus far. Ashworth has raised $2,300 of his projected $6,000 goal, which is slowing the progress he’s hoping for. The funds raised go into purchasing necessities like the motorcycle and medical supplies, but it will also aid in training the twenty Lumbini responders.

As if this wasn’t enough to keep him busy, Ashworth is also working on a side fourth project, an extension of his ongoing LERN project, with Associate Professor of Religious Studies Amy Langenberg. Together they want to create a potential 2018 Winter Term trip to Lumbini, which is looking like a real possibility since Professor Langenberg worked with the LSSF on the 2017 Winter term.

However, despite all his projects and accomplishments, it hasn’t been all smooth sailing for Ashworth. “I applied for and was rejected by four scholarship programs in a row before I was granted a full tuition scholarship from UCD and the Fulbright Grant,” he said. Then, once he was awarded both, he was told he had to pick one.“I had two hour-long arguments with my parents telling me I had to pick free school over working in Nepal,” he said. “In the end, I opted for the third option, both.” UCD accepted his request to split his Masters in half and to conduct his thesis in Nepal.

Ashworth says his experience and education at Eckerd shaped him in almost every way to be who he is today. He credits Dr. Gregg Brooks, whom he conducted research with on the BP oil spill, for contributing to his most intuitive changes. “Brooks taught me about independent and collaborative thinking, hard work, initiative, and gave me the confidence and opportunity to conduct independent research,” he said.

And while Eckerd may be a world away from Nepal, Ashworth said that it is possible for all students to achieve their dreams. He urged everyone to work hard and do what they love because so many students become easily caught up in grades, awards, and what he called a “false sense of prestige.”

“If you follow your heart,” he said. “The hard work you put in will be an act of love, and the what will always be connected to the why.”

If you want to contribute to Henry's LERN project, you can donate at here. In addition, feel free to email Henry with any questions, comments, or concerns, regarding his LERN project at hcashwor@eckerd.edu.