Dec 16, 2016

THE GODS WILL BE ANGRY

23 yr. old new mother - in cowshed while 'unclean'
23 yr. old new mother - in cowshed while 'unclean'

THANK YOU - THANK YOU - THANK YOU

Your generosity has made our GIVING TUESDAY campaign a huuuuge success. In only 12 hours we were able to raise more than $12,500 for the Rajbash hospital in rural Nepal!

$12,500 will cover the salaries for all 13 Rajbash Hospital employees, from doctors to midwives to the ambulance driver,  for 3 months.  Your support is vital for our crew of dedicated professionals who day in, day out, for the last five years, are providing critical medical care in this remote tri-county area of subsistence farming families.  Their commitment to improve the lives of their countrymen in these previously unserved areas is absolute. Our nurses will literally ‘go the extra mile(s)’ (on foot) to reach and treat ill patients living in remote mountain villages with no roads. Our medical team consistently treats 300 to 350 patients per month, many of whom could be permanently incapacitated or die without medical attention.  

This year the Nepali government awarded Rajbash hospital certification as a Regional Birthing Center. The incidence of maternal and infant mortality, particularly in remote areas, is a great concern. Our outreach educator (see her Bio in our last report) makes it her special focus to reach pregnant women in their villages with education about hygiene and perinatal care. She checks on their health status and counsels them on the advantages of a hospital birth with a trained midwife. This part of her work often seems like an uphill fight. A recent article in the Nepali Times will help you understand why:

‘The gods will be angry 

Seminars in Kathmandu debate gender, reproductive rights and the maternal mortality, and as we mark the 16-day campaign against gender-based violence the clamour for gender equality gets louder. But in the remote mountains of Nepal, women still deliver babies in dirty, cold and stuffy cowsheds. They live there for one month, without nutritious food and no attendants. Donor-funded projects for safe motherhood have yielded few actual results in these far-flung villages. Women here fear that the gods will punish their families by causing drought, famine and disasters if they enter the house after childbirth. They are not allowed to eat nutritious food before and after delivery, and no one can touch them. The superstitions persist despite development projects and education. As a result, mothers and newborns suffer from malnutrition, other diseases and even death.’

The young woman in the picture above described her experience as follows:

‘I have been living in the cowshed since I gave birth 12 days ago. After delivering the baby, the mother and child were not allowed to stay in the house because the gods would be angry and we will face poor harvests and the baby will not be healthy. All the women from this village and my maternal village live in a shed after delivery and during menstruation.

This is my fifth child and I have lived in a shed for a month after every delivery. It gets too cold in there, and two of my babies died because of exposure. This baby is also suffering from cough and diarrhea.  Not all children who are born survive. Everyone has lost a child, so have I. 

The doctors at the health post tell us not to live in a cowshed after giving birth. The people from the NGOs also tell us the same thing. But this is how things have been done here for ages. Why would we have any problems when no one in the past faced any? I was also born in a cowshed and I am still healthy. Why discontinue the rituals that have been going on? We should not be selfish and make the gods angry?’ 

Nepal has made some progress in reducing infant and maternal mortality but, as this article illustrates, women in small, isolated communities still find challenging ancient traditions a tall order. That is an important fact to heed for us as we present our arguments for perinatal care and midwife assisted hospital births. Much work remains to be done.

Please join us in our ongoing effort to bring critical medical care to underserved Nepali families and to make childbirth safe for all women and infants in Nepal. 

Here are two ways to support the Rajbash Hospital in Nepal:

  • Make a donation through Global Giving to project # 14750 or
  • Come join us on one of our three week treks into the spectacular mountains of Nepal (trips to Annapurna Base Camp and the Mustang region are in the planning stages for 2017. Everest Base Camp treks can also be arranged). For information contact: kbreibel2@gmail.com
Chinkala, 22, and six day old baby in cowshed
Chinkala, 22, and six day old baby in cowshed

Links:

Nov 22, 2016

DONATION MATCH ALERT

Anjala delivering class on adolescent body changes
Anjala delivering class on adolescent body changes

                                                     MATCH YOUR DONATIONS BY 50%

                                             NOVEMBER 29th (eve of Nov. 28th in California)

 

 TO OUR GENEROUS RAJBASH HOSPITAL SUPPORT FAMILY:

 

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has generously provided $500,000 in matching funds for ‘Giving Tuesday’ (Nov, 29th). There will be an unprecedented 50% matching on this day for each donation up to $1,000 until the first $1 million has been raised. The matching begins at 00.01am ETS on Nov. 29th and ends at 11:59 pm ETS on the same day. For us Californians this means Nov. 28th, 9:01 pm PST, ending Nov. 29th, 8:59 pm PST.

To take advantage of this very generous offer, and if you have been thinking about including the DCWC Rajbash Hospital in your holiday giving, you must time your donation just right for a chance to have your donation automatically increased by 50%. Many other Global Giving project people will be poised by their computers, donation ready, to donate as close to the opening as possible.  Please adjust the timing of your donation to your particular time zone and be ready for your donation to Global Giving, project # 14750 - Lifesaving Healthcare for Remote Farming Villages. Please mark your calendars!

Much is happening in Rajbash, and that will be reflected in our December report. In the meantime,

                             MEET THE NEWEST MEMBER OF THE RAJBASH HOSPITAL STAFF

Anjala Phunyal has a Masters’ degree in Health Science and joined us as health educator/outreach coordinator seven months ago (since we lost our beloved Min Prasad to a government job). She knows the Kavre area well as she grew up here,  in the Patlakheta VDC to be precise.  Anjala is married and has a 12 yr. old daughter who lives with her family in Kathmandu. Since Anjala lives in the hospital compound in Rajbash, she sees her family only occasionally - this is a sacrifice few of us in the West can comprehend, yet it's a hardship so many people in Nepal accept to provide for their families.

Anjala’s education and experience singularly qualify her for the job of health educator and as such she works with people of all ages on aspects of health maintenance and hygiene training. As she travels from village to village, identifying urgent health needs, she also goes door to door to identify newly pregnant women. She checks their health status, their vitamin intake, and refers them to the hospital for perinatal care. She counsels them on the advantages of a hospital birth with a trained midwife. Many women, particularly in remote areas of the country, are wary to involve the hospital in something as private as a new birth. Often the husband as well is unwilling to expose his wife to they eyes of strangers during the intimate act of birthing. However the risks of contamination, uncontrolled bleeding and improper placenta removal are great and can result in death of the mother or the baby. (For more information you may want to watch the video by journalist Subina Shrestha on 'Birthing in Nepal' referenced at the end of this report.)

With prior permission of the principals Anjala also visits village schools to deliver her health education. Especially the young children respond enthusiastically to her use of song, rhyme and dramatic acting as well as charts and graphs, while learning about the importance of handwashing and oral hygiene. Having a young daughter, Anjala feels particularly committed to educating teen girls about the physical and mental changes of the adolescent female body, about the menstrual cycle, and the use of sanitary pads. Many adolescent girls quit school for fear of embarrassment once they start menstrating. Commonly the school bathrooms have not been private enough to make girls feel safe from exposure during this very intimate time in their cycle. However, more recently, principals and administrators intent on keeping girls in school have instituted separate bathrooms for girls with very beneficial results.

When classes are over the premises often become a place where the community meets. On a recent afternoon Anjala conducted a community health class on the topic of uterine prolapse. This is a common and often untreated condition for women in Nepal. Interest in Anjala’s presentation was intense and one can only hope that some of the women who suffer from uterine prolapse will feel empowered to seek relief at the hospital. 

In a way Anjala is like an ambassador of Rajbash Hospital as she brings the message of the services we offer to the people in the village. Her professional and warm interaction with those she teaches is slowly reducing the distrust toward hospital use that cultural conditioning and also extreme poverty have created. Instead she uses her work to educate, to promote trust and to building bridges between the hospital and the communities we serve. We are excited to have Anjala on our team. Some of her outreach activities for the Rajbash hospital are well illustrated in the pictures below.

Community outreach and education is only one of the many activities that make the Rajbash Hospital a success, and that success is made possible by you, our supporters. We therefore close this report with a heartfelt THANK YOU to all of you who are sustaining us as we continue our important mission.

Discussing women's health issues
Discussing women's health issues
Menstruation and the adolescent body
Menstruation and the adolescent body
Oops, something went wrong in oral hygiene lesson
Oops, something went wrong in oral hygiene lesson
Health awareness training in the community
Health awareness training in the community

Links:

Sep 9, 2016

DCWC and Global Giving: Our three year anniversary

Announcement of free Health Camp at Rajbash Hosp.
Announcement of free Health Camp at Rajbash Hosp.

September 2013 marked the launch of our collaboration with Global Giving. Neophytes to fundraising, all we had to offer was our desire to support a small hospital in the Kavre District of Nepal. The Rajbash Community Hospital opened in 2010 to provide much needed basic medical care to some of the poorest people in this remote area. We had visited the hospital twice while trekking in Nepal and were truly inspired by their mission. Inspite of our ignorance and with amazing coaching by the Global Giving staff we managed to organize our first, very successful fundraising drive. Many have followed since, and the Rajbash community hospital with its all Nepali staff is not only still standing, it is thriving and an important part of the larger Rajbash/Kavre community. 

As I think back over the last three years I remember the many small and large challenges that we have weathered: 

  • monsoon landslides that regularly took out the road; 
  • the unreliable electric grid breaking down in the midst of surgeries; 
  • government promises for our birthing center certification delayed; 
  • the loss of valuable employees, lured away to better paying jobs, to name just a few.
  • The biggest challenge, without a doubt, was the incredible devastation wreaked by the series of powerful earthquakes that hit Nepal in April 2015. Damage to the upper floor of the hospital made us transfer patient services to a hastily rigged outdoor space covered with tarps. When the monsoon came we moved into the small pharmacy building and labored for months in these cramped conditions while the hospital yard became a command center for relief activities in the hard hit area.

However, the upper floor of the hospital has now been earthquake proofed and repaired, and operations are back inside where they belong.  There has been much else to celebrate:

  • the donor who generously provided the funds to initially complete the interior of the hospital’s second story; 
  • the 2012 donation by TATA India of a fully equipped, back country enabled ambulance; 
  • the building of independent staff quarters to house doctors, nurses and other personnel; 
  • installing a new solar system that makes us independent of the electrical grid (which, incidentally, was seriously damaged by a major landslide that took out a portion of the dam providing hydropower to the region); 
  • the generous UK donor who gifted a new Ultra Sound machine and a warming bed for our neonatal unit
  • the long awaited government certification as a regional birthing center and, finally,
  • we celebrate and thank the many volunteers who have given their talents and their time in support of this important project.

All these achievements would not have been possible without DCWC's expert management, Global Giving’s guidance and the staunch support of you, our kindhearted donors. Through Global Giving your donations go directly to our project. Your generosity allows us

  • to continue providing basic medical services to large numbers of subsistence farming families in remote Nepal; 
  • to increase our reach to even more remote areas through our free Health Camps; 
  • to reach more expectant moms through our outreach programs, improve their perinatal care, and thus lower the incidence of maternal and child mortality for families in remote areas.

We are grateful to you for standing with us in this ambitious undertaking and hope you will  continue to lend your support in the future. 

PS. For a more detailed history of this project please read our reports going back to Dec. 2013

 

 

Hosp. staff with french medical student volunteer
Hosp. staff with french medical student volunteer
Opening ceremony of newly certified birthing cente
Opening ceremony of newly certified birthing cente
Rajbash then (2011)
Rajbash then (2011)
Rajbash now (2016); staff quarters behind hosp.
Rajbash now (2016); staff quarters behind hosp.

Links:

 
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