Nepal: End of Maternal Health Awareness Intervention Program

After four very busy months in remote, rural mountain villages of Nepal, Binod’s program to raise awareness for the need to improve maternal health has come to an end. The program involved groups preparing song words to traditional style music that imparted the messages of the worth of mothers and the importance of good maternal health in pregnancy and beyond.

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This map shows the two ‘village development committee’ areas that took part in the project. The Chitre area is shown in red, with the Ramja Duerali area below. The terrain between the many villages in these areas is mountainous and it’s taken a dedicated effort by all involved, especially Binod, to complete this program of promoting the need for better maternal health through the medium of a community singing competition.

Binod writes: “We have now completed the intervention in the villages. We organised eighty sessions altogether in the two intervention areas. The singing sessions covered all (811) houses of the study area. A total of 2,369 people participated and/or observed the singing sessions in person.

We have also now completed the post-intervention data collection. There were 1,653 responses in the baseline survey and we now have 1,602 responses in the post-intervention survey. (51 respondents in both control and intervention areas moved out of the area over the four month period).”

Binod will examine all of this data on his return to Australia but he and David feel sure, from anecdotal evidence, that the program was an outstanding success and very much appreciated in the village communities. Binod will keep his site updated at: 


So now, Binod and David have left this beautiful but remote area of Nepal in the first stages of their return to Australia. Binod is seen here standing by the chautari (resting place) outside their much frequented ‘tea house’.


On a clear day, there are wonderful views from this area, like this view of Macchapucchre (Fish Tail Mountain) 6993m (22,943 ft). 

But the time had come to leave these friendly people and take that rather arduous journey back to the town of Pokhara. David’s email takes up their story:

“We’re back in PKR after a 3½ hour drive, this time in the same vehicle all the way.  In the past we’ve walked or used the jeep to the main road and then taken a taxi to PKR but, this time, there was so much stuff to return to PKR that it was easier and cheaper to hire the jeep for the whole journey.  I think the driver, who was very good on the rough stuff where he averaged under 10km/h, liked it when he could do 70km/h!  He was up to it but not his vehicle.  With the back stuffed full and up to 7 people on board, the old jeep tended to roll and sway all over the place.

So I’m back at the Adam Hotel for the princely sum of USD25/night. Binod has given me the morning off. I think I need it after so many days without a break and I’m sure Binod deserves a break after over 4 months without a stop!  I still woke before 06.00 so did some ‘illegal’ washing in my room, washed me as well and now I’m ready to write to you.  It is still not 07.00.  So much for a sleep-in.

Binod and I visited the tee-shirt shop a little way up the road to pick up my bespoke tee which was supposed to have been ready by last Sunday.  Still not done!  It has to be ready by 20.00 Thursday evening or I said I wanted my money back.  Looks as though we’ll spend an extra couple of days here rather than in KTM where transport and costs are a bit higher. I’m going to concentrate on editing the video I took, as it is what I know.  I will need better editing possibilities to deal with the earlier footage… so that’s a job for home.

Binod brought to my attention an article in the “Kathmandu Post” of Sunday 14 August. The headline read: “90 of 724 quake-struck health facilities rebuilt.” In essence the article mentions that a total of 927 health facilities buildings were damaged by the earthquake which occurred on April 25 and May 12 and claimed nearly 9000 lives and injured over 22,000 people. 103 of those health facility buildings were damaged in Kavre and 90 in Sindhupalchok… both of these districts were covered by the tree planting project that I was involved her in Nepal 37 years ago. There were also 89 health buildings damaged in Kathmandu and 83 in Gorkha.  These buildings provided day-to-day health services.  (The rest of the buildings were quarters and toilet facilities.)

“Mahendra Shrestha, a spokesperson for the MoH, said reconstruction of health facilities could not be carried out during the (135 days long) Indian border blockade, hence the delay. Many health facilities that are yet to be rebuilt are providing services from rented rooms or makeshift structures.  Some delays have been caused by hassles in acquiring land.”

It’s lunch time here in PKR… not sure what is in store for the afternoon let alone what’s in store for my stomach tonight. We’ve had a blackout/load-sharing for three hours from 9 this morning.  Back on at 12.  I have a feeling is will go off again at 3.  At least the lights, fan and internet don’t go off, just the AC.

Later: I went out about 18.30 to find some dinner and realised after a hundred metres or so that I didn’t have my phone, so went back for it.  In the time it took me to trundle upstairs, pick up the phone and get back down to the lobby, there was Binod and his nephew from Barcelona.  I could have missed them by seconds!  We went across the road to a restaurant that specialises in food from the Mustang District.  Really very good and probably the tenderest meat (mutton, read goat) that I’ve had since arriving in the country.  Lovely side dishes as well.  Perhaps the highlight was the raksi from that area. It was served in their traditional way.  This is done by heating ghee and adding uncooked rice.  The rice is allowed to cook until it turns ‘red’, then the raksi is added. The concoction is served in a glass with rice and all.  The rice becomes a bit crunchy in the process and the raksi is of course warm  The ghee is used to raise the temperature as the altitude of the Mustang area is quite high (2,700m).  I was back home about 21.30, thankfully, this time, not feeling stuffed. Even with all the exercise that I’ve been involved in, I’m sure I’ve put on weight.  Binod certainly has in his time in Nepal.

Apart from being extended beyond all realms of possibility over the last few weeks, dare I sat it, I have had absolutely no problems except for the usual sub-Continent ‘looseness’ of the bowels… and that goes with the territory and change of diet. In this place, again dare I say it… you never trust a fart!!!!!!

Apologies… no photos today.  I’ve got to meet Binod to get some laundry organised and to book our flight tickets from PKR to KTM. So my thoughts are turning towards home. It has been an extraordinary experience and when I do get home and we sort out my photos, we’ll upload them to our site… but that might be a couple of weeks away.”

In the meantime, we’ll add some You Tube video links of village life and the intervention program on this site on Monday, Wednesday and Friday as usual.

Jennie (for David and Binod)

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