Nepal: Update on Singing Intervention Program

An update today from David and Binod in Nepal after I was able to speak to them at length on Skype. I still find it amazing to be able to chat with someone so far away from Australia, but what is more amazing is the remoteness of the area they are working in. To give you some idea of that, the children of these villages who are under 12 years of age, have never seen a white person before. It’s really remote and well off any Nepalese tourist track.

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The singing and dancing intervention has now been completed in all the trial villages. The program went exceptionally well and the anecdotal evidence is overwhelming that this has been a successful way of drawing attention to the health problems of women, especially pregnant women in these remote areas. Although the original intent was to have about 6 songs prepared by primary age students in the intervention villages, the interest roused produced twenty-six songs from groups representing all areas of the communities.

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As well as the proposed 6 songs from primary school age student groups, there were 8 songs from adolescent groups, 6 presented by mother’s groups, 2 from teacher’s groups, 3 from combined students and teacher’s groups, and 1 from the  Female Community Health Volunteer’s group. It was impressive to witness so many men joining in with the project and dancing to raise awareness of the importance role women play in the community and the importance of improving maternal health.

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Also… instead of having to hire a special singing group to go around the villages to present all of the songs, the Principal of a local high school and a group of his male teachers offered to give their time to taking on this task… a very healthy sign in a culture where traditionally it would be hard to involve men in such a project. Their voluntary dedication to this project is much appreciated by all.

Now, that the competition is over, its time to go back to the intervention villages to collect follow up data. In the initial baseline data collection, Binod had collected 1,656 responses. These participants will all now be revisited and the same questions asked again.

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That process means that David will accompany Binod on some lengthy hikes between villages… lots of hiking up, lots of hiking down, lots of crossing fast running streams, and lots of leaches… David’s pet hate.

David is enjoying his time with Binod and enjoying getting involved with the locals in these remote villages. His only complaint has been cold showers and squat loos! He has to have something to enjoy when he comes home!

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Both Binod and David commented that they are continually being told by the older women that they wished this intervention had happened when they were younger and of child bearing age. This is important because these older women are the ones who will now support the younger women.

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In this culture, on marriage, a woman leaves her own family and village to spend the rest of her life with her in-laws. So it is very important for the mothers-in-law to really embrace the project. 1,000 posters have been distributed to all the houses to help the women remember the important steps to follow through the nine months of pregnancy. These are visual in content.

The other item for discussion in our chat was what will happen to the equipment that was purchased in Nepal as part of this project; musical instruments, printer, internet modems, etc, etc. All of this equipment will now be distributed to the schools that have so willingly taken part. That’s another bonus. We know they will continue to sing!

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Of course there are many villages who have not had the program of intervention because they are the control group. David and Binod will now visit them also and the same data questions asked again. But they will not be forgotten or left out. David and Binod are planning to make video presentations of both the competition and the processes used to share with the control villages and any other interested villages. This project is the model and we hope to make sure that there is a large ripple effect across the villages of Nepal. The rainbow seems to add a positive note for the a good outcome for all women in these rural villages across Nepal. 

David and Binod send their best wishes to all of our readers

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