Nepal: The Project’s Future?

The intervention part of the program to create awareness of the need for better health measures to promote better outcomes for pregnant women in isolated and remote villages in Nepal has come to an end. The post intervention data has been collected and it is very pleasing to note that of the 1,656 people who responded to the original data collection, only 50 were not recorded in the post intervention data… they were away from their area at the time. This is an incredible response rate and their responses should give a true indication of the way the program was received by the people. Binod is now back in Newcastle, Australia looking at all his data… and that should be a very interesting read.


But the other indication of success can be seen on the faces of women visited!

So, it seems, that a very good start has been made in working towards a change in these villages which, over the years, have experienced awful maternal mortality death rates.

But, now that the ‘entertainment’ of the singing and dancing and social interaction of the intense intervention program is over, will the momentum be continued ?


Binod had prepared for this and, before the end of the program, 1,000 laminated posters were distributed to all of the houses to help the women, and their families,  remember the important steps to follow through the nine months of pregnancy. These are visual in content. They were highly prized and sought after by the families in the villages. Binod has translated them into English for us.


Months one to four.


Months five and six


Month seven.

You may wonder about the comment regarding carrying the woman on a man’s back to get the health post. As there are only tracks, often difficult and slippery, a pregnant woman, especially if not well, would find it difficult to walk down the hills… and up again. You begin to understand the reasons why they often don’t go to the health posts and why more  local health posts are needed.


Months eight and nine.


And, if all goes well, a smiling Grandmother with her grandchild.


And a smiling, healthy mother!


And a healthy baby.


So, for the long term hope of better maternal health care, these women need to work together to help each other, and their families; checking the banners that will hang in their houses; reminding each other of the messages in the words of the songs… and, hopefully, the songs will become a part of their village tradition.




The older women have really embraced these messages, wishing Binod had come earlier when they were of child bearing age… they know only too well the consequences!






And teachers, mostly men, need to keep reinforcing the messages with their students.


This intervention is particularly important for the mothers of the future.

These teenage girls are taking intense interest in the messages.


And so are these young fellows… the fathers of the future.


Teenagers, like this young man, are the future of these villages.

We hope they remember these health messages and employ them throughout their lives.


Maybe, by the time these little ones are grown up, the messages of today’s intervention songs will be deeply etched into the culture of their villages and society. Let’s hope so.

And that’s all for our WordPress for the time being. It’s time for us to prepare video presentations to share with others here in Australia and back in Nepal. The goal is to develop this intervention as a model for other isolated communities.


On behalf of Annie, Roger, Binod and David (photo above), thank you to those who have joined them for the journey to these remote villages in Nepal on their important mission to help abate the maternal mortality rate. If you have enjoyed these armchair travel posts, please pass our site on to others. And for those just joining, there’s plenty to read and enjoy in past posts.

I will add more of David’s Nepal photos to our flickr site as and when I have the time… so pop in there from time to time and enjoy.

More anon when David takes on another travel adventure!

Jennie (on behalf of David and Binod)


Binod will be updating his project site from time to time as well:

Our other armchair travel site is

Nepal: Video of Day Eight of the Intervention Program

David is safely back in Australia from Nepal… tired but very happy that he was part of such an important program to raise awareness of the need for better maternal health in rural villages. We have just begun to sort his photos and video clips … as well as moving and preparing our old house for the spring sale market! So, because time for writing is a little short at the moment, we thought we’d add a video taken of the intervention group visiting isolated villages and farms to present their important messages in song and dance… even in the pouring rain!

More anon David and Jennie

Video by Binod and the intervention team

Some of David’s Nepal photos and more of our travel photos are on

If you enjoy these armchair travels, please pass our site onto others

more of our travel stories and photos can be found on


Nepal: More photos from the Villages

As I prepare this post this morning, David is winging his way back home from his month helping his Nepalese friend (and PhD scholar at the University of Newcastle), Binod, with an awareness intervention program to improve maternal health in rural mountain villages in the area of Ramja Deurali and Chitre, north west of Pokhara in Nepal.

I know that David has fallen in love with Nepal and the Nepalese all over again… he worked in Nepal 37 years ago on a tree planting project. He’s sent some more photos of the people and the scenery that he will miss when he gets home to a very different scene in modern day Australia.


Scenery on the walk to Chitre. David was particularly pleased to see the number of community planted trees. These assist with soil erosion around the terraced rice paddies as well providing a sustainable source of firewood as cooking is done on small wood burning stoves. (See video link at the end of this post)


A smiling Hari on the stoney track on the way to Chitre School. Great gum boots!


At the end of the intervention program, items bought for use in the program were handed on to local schools for their use. Here David hands over the printer to the Principal of Chitre School.


Dandapani, who’s been part of the program, poses with David at a shawl embroiderers stall. I know that David will miss all of the team… they have all played such an important part in making the project such a success..

And speaking of the team, here’s a happy snap of them “all tikad up”… David’s description! Front row, Binod and David with Roger (Binod’s UoN supervisor) and his wife Annie.


A path can suddenly become steep, often slippery, steps in this part of the world.


Walking these steep paths is part of everyday life for the locals. here a couple of young men carry ‘dokos’ full of cut herbage for tethered animals at home.


Most of all, I think David will miss the interaction with these hard working women who were so very appreciative of the intervention program. Here, a group sits in their corn field watching an impromptu concert of songs and dances about the importance of their health.

Older women like these commented often that they just wished that a program such as this had happened in their younger days. Too may women and their babies have died from lack of knowledge and assistance. But now they will help the young women of today… mother’s-in-law caring for daughters-in-law.


And of course, he’ll miss the children like these… a serious sister, a smiling brother.


And just as David will miss the people he lived with for a month, I’m sure those like his little shadow, Gani babu, will miss their experiences with a foreigner from Australia. I have a feeling that one day David will return to see how they are all getting on in life.

As David wings his way towards Australia, I’m sure he’s looking forward in many ways to being at home. And being one who loves to cook, he may well appreciate even more his modern cooking facilities. Let’s finish today with a video of Binod cooking his meal in the village in the traditional way on a small wood fired ‘stove’.

More anon   Jennie (for David)

All photographs copyright © DY  of  jtdytravels

The project site is

If you enjoy these armchair travels, please pass our site onto others

More of David’s Nepal adventure photos are being added to our travel flickr site:

The project site will be updated by Binod

More of our travel stories and photos can be found on


Nepal: Final Days in Pokhara

Excerpts of emails from David…

At the beginning of the day….

I was up and about a bit later this morning as there was a big lightning and thunder storm around 4am.  I doubt that anyone except the deaf could have slept through it all.  The thunder rolled around the valley for what appeared to be forever… but was probably only 30 mins or so.  I woke again a bit before 06.00 but overcame that by rolling over and not moving again for over another hour.  ‘Twas nice!  Very nice to stop for a bit. It has been a hectic four weeks.

I’ll try to get some musings written about these, my last days in Pokhara for Jennie to add to our WordPress site. 

At the end of the day….

The roller shutters of most of the retail establishments are rattling closed, the streets are emptying fast.  It’s bed time in these parts.  So let me muse a little on the doings of the day… or at least of the evening. A bit before 18.00, I suddenly realised that this was to be the last night in Pokhara for Binod for around 2 years.  He was to call me to arrange to have dinner with me somewhere near my hotel.  Now, as I can more that adequately look after myself, I called him on my Ncell Nepali cell phone and told him that he MUST spend his last night here with his family.  I believe he was grateful for the suggestion as, being the gentleman he is, he was putting me before his family.

He agreed it would be nice to be ‘let off the hook’, so I went off to have my last massage with Bhumesh this eveing instead of tomorrow morning… suited me fine as that leaves tomorrow open to cater to all the possibilities that can arise in these parts of the world.  Oh, how good is a massage after all that walking up and down steep mountain tracks!

Being on my own for dinner also meant that I could wander up the street to my ‘favourite’ bar/restaurant – The Rainbow Bar.  There, my friendly waiter, Robin from Hetauda, was to greet me in his usual warm manner.  He had only just arrived in Pokhara the day before I met him on my first occasion to visit the place. He was just starting to get used to life away from his family.

 I remembered the name “Hetauda” well. It was the place “Star Beer” was brewed and that was virtually the only local beer to be had in Nepal 37 years ago when I lived here.  I’m told that beer was full of glycerine then… but that didn’t stop the ex-pat community from consuming rather large quantities of the stuff in this rather humid climate… well, that was our excuse anyway.  Interestingly, in those days, the beer was brought up the Rajpath (road from India) in hessian sacks, packed into the back of a Tata truck.  Each bottle had a rice-stalk cone placed over it to protect it from the tortuous climb up to Kathmandu.  If I remember correctly, there were around 1,500 hairpin bends in the 30km length of the Rajpath.  I travelled this route on numerous occasions and I remember well the interesting situations that would develop when two Tata trucks met each other on one of those hair-pin bends.  One had to back up as there was no way they could pass each other… a sheer drop on one side and a sheer cliff on the other.  In these situations, blowing the horn is more than a life-saving event.  There is now a less tortuous route from India to land-locked Nepal.

Back to my chat with the waiter, Robin. I asked him if he was married.  Yes, he is… and with a 4 year old daughter.  “When did he think he would get back home?”, was the obvious next question.  I suggested ‘Dasain” the major festival of the Nepali calendar.  “No”, he said, “I’m a Christian”.  So, maybe, Christmas is the opportunity he will take to reunite with his family… but that’s in the middle of the tourist season, albeit a a bit of a downturn time.  All one can hope for is that he is not away from his family for too long to miss out completely on his daughter’s growing up. I’ve enjoyed my chat’s with Robin and hoped that a bit of friendliness helped to lessen some of the loneliness for him. 

 As an aside… I read in the English language newspaper on a table in the lobby of this fine establishment, the Adam Hotel, that Qatar has offered an armistice to illegal immigrants to leave the country without prosecution.  It’s estimated that this will benefit up to 22,000 Nepalis. Who knows how many other Nepalis have left their families and country to earn enough money to provide, in particular, a better education for their kids ?  It beggars the imagination, and we in Australia, in the Land of Plenty, by most standards, send refugees to remote islands and let them rot!!!!  We, again from the the Land of Plenty, cannot possibly conceive what it must take to leave behind one’s country of birth, with what you can carry on your back, and head into the unknown.  Shame on us!  Mind you, I believe that if we let these people in, they must accept our standards and rules and the first foot put out of place and that individual is on the first plane back to where they came from, no matter what the consequences are.  If Australia was such a good place to come to in the beginning, then they should live by our rules!  Now, I admit, those few words have ended these musings with a bit of pontification, but I don’t say “Sorry”. 

So what, in fact, did I have for my meal this time….  I ordered a fungi (read mushroom) pizza, but in my defence, it was the first non-Nepali meal I’ve had in 4 weeks.  I also ordered a ‘Nepali’ Ice’ beer, at 7% alcohol. It was lovely and chisso (cold) and the next one was just as good.

Now back in better internet connection, I’ve sent Jennie some photos of my final days in the villages… good memories of an exceptional experience:


Children from one of the primary schools we visited.


Our farewell from the Thanti High School. Binod and I had been given the inevitable scarf… in this case yellow… so we do stand out from that sea of blue uniforms.


Our beds being returned to their rightful owners. Many thanks!


My farewell from the newly completed health post which was my home away from home while staying here in this pretty remote and isolated part of Nepal. Such friendly people… and yes another scarf… this time in red… matches the farewell tika on my forehead!


A photo of some very happy women… happy that Binod had come to their communities to bring hope of better awareness in these rural villages of the need for much better health programs especially for pregnant women and for safer births. Binod had worked non stop for four months and the results are very promising. So much has been achieved here in these villages on such an important community based program.


I know Binod feels very happy with the outcome of all of his vision and hard work… well actually it’s only the start of his vision for better health for rural Nepal. He has a twenty year plan and, being the dedicated person he is, I’m sure he will achieve his goals and dreams. He’s seen here with the man who tailored my Nepali outfit that I was wearing in the post about the visit to the school in Chitre.

Jennie has begun to add photos of my time here in Nepal to her flickr site… and we’ll add more photos when I get home and sort out my SD Cards. In the meantime why not check out the site:

Updates of Binod’s work will be added to his site for this program:

More anon from Kathmandu… my last port of call before heading home to Australia.


If you have enjoyed reading of this journey into rural Nepal, please pass our website onto family and friends.



Nepal: Chitre; One of the Song Program Intervention Areas

While David was back in Pokhara, he was able to send through a couple of photos of his visit to the school at Chitre… the children there had taken part in the singing intervention program.

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As you can see from this Google images shot, the terrain between David and Binod’s ‘home base’ at Ranja Deurali (bottom centre) and Chitre (top right) is not an easy walk… and walk it was as there are no roads… unless of course you go right back down to the valley… and that’s a very rough, tortuous road anyway.  To show you the sort of walk, I’ll add one of Binod’s video You Tube links at the end of this post.

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Another closer up Google maps aerial shot shows the area of Chitre. People are scattered throughout the area. Binod took his intervention program to 49 ‘places’ in the area ranging from small settlements of 12 houses to isolated farms. In all he covered 390 homes and the program in Chitre area involved 1,042 people. (In the Ramja Deurali area, which has somewhat larger settlements of up to 25 houses, a total of 1,327 people from 421 houses were involved.) Every house received the visual poster of ways to improve maternal health and pregnancy and everyone had the opportunity to be involved… most were more than happy to do so.

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The above photo from the web looks into the Chitre valley.

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The school was built with the help of volunteers in 2013. Chitre is on one of the newer ‘treks’ in Nepal and has thus had some interest from visitors in the last few years. The school was solidly built and was not damaged in the earthquake. It’s a big asset to the children of the area.


Inside, the school is not quite what we are used to, but they do have a school… and how could you not fall instantly in love with these bright eyed children. There up to 35 children per class.


You may not instantly recognise the man handing out books and pens to some younger children…  It’s David dressed in his bespoke Nepali outfit! In Nepali, the white trousers are called ‘SURWA’, the top is a ‘DAURA’, and the long waist coat is an ‘ASKOT’. And, of course, there’s a hat to add to David’s men’s hat collection that adorns the lounge in our home.

One thing that we  try to do when visiting such countries, is to give books, pens and pencils to little schools like this… but we always buy them in country to add to the local economy.


And here’s David, dressed Nepali style, on the track to Chitre school (blue roof).

An earlier walk that Binod did from Ramja Deurali to Chitre as shown on the following You Tube site recorded a couple of months ago.

More anon

Jennie… David and Binod send their best wishes to all

Personal photographs copyright © DY  of  jtdytravels

The project site is

If you enjoy these armchair travels, please pass our site onto others

more of our travel stories and photos can be found on

More of our travel photos are on



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)

Please pass our site links on to others 

More of our travel stories and photos can be found on

More of our travel photos are on



Nepal: Back in the Villages of the Ramja Deurali Area

Safely back from Pokhara to the rural mountain villages of the Ramja Deurali area, David has written an account of his day in an email.


‘My day started as usual at around 06.00.  It’s broad daylight by then at this time of the year. This is the view from the top of the Health Post building where I have been staying. 


Shortly after I got up, a troupe of Rhesus monkeys passed through the community forest area behind the health post where Binod and I are staying.  They were all very healthy, as is the forest, with a number of mums and their babies in arms.  One wide-eyed youngster stared at me through the window.


During my time here, Binod and I have frequented the local tea shop for breakfast and to get a better chance at internet and to download photos. This rather serious young man is Prem who often wanders by while I’m there, taking an interest in my photos and in my camera. I’ve shown Prem how to use my camera and found him to be a good student.


Yours truly… a photo taken by Prem.

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We’ve given the name of ‘Gani Babu’ to another young village boy who has befriended me. That name translates as ‘wise and knowledgeable boy’. I wonder what his future holds.


When the weather’s clear, this is the view of the nearby mountains… fantastic.

Today (Sun 21 Aug) is another Nepalese festival day, this time a celebration of departed relatives.  On this day, a senior person in a household gives female relatives a gift of money. Perhaps this is insurance so that they get a worthy send off themselves?!


My little friend Gani babu, on this occasion, was also given money…. Rp250 by his maternal uncle… no doubt a fortune for this little fellow.

While we were having our tea, a funeral procession passed the tea shop.  It was lead by some male family members carrying a long white banner.  This indicates to everybody that the procession is in fact a funeral procession.  Other family members followed including the senior male who had his head shaven and wears only unstitched cloth as a wrapping around his body.  The dead body was covered with an orange cloth and carried on a stretcher-like frame on the shoulders of two younger men.  It was going to take the procession around 4 hours to reach the confluence of the Kali Gandaki and Modi Kholi Rivers where the cremation would take place.

We’d planned to meet three of the data collection girls at the tea shop. They have been working with Binod on his maternal health awareness programme.  We wanted to record them to add to the video presentation that I’m developing for Binod. They arrived ‘on time’ at 11.45 and that footage will, one day, be part of the final video of the program which has been such a success here in the villages.

So much so, that we are being fated by the locals in an unbelievable way here at the moment. They are all so grateful for the intervention program that Binod has brought to their community.  It has become even more pronounced now that we have a departure date (Tue 23 Aug) to leave the village to return to Pokhara on our way back to Australia.

An example or two of the hospitality we are receiving:

Last night we went up to a local village (Thanti) which is about half a km above the tea shop. We went there for me to be measured for a waist coat that Binod insists I need to go with my Dhoti and Kuta!  We left the tea shop about 18.00.

When we got to the village there was an invitation to have some buffalo milk produced by a cow which gave birth 3 days ago.  And when you are an honoured guest, you can’t say no!  The milk is still very rich and is prepared by slowly heating with a little added sugar.  It’s a bit like spongy crumbled feta cheese, is eaten with a spoon and is delicious.  I was served far too much but there is not much I could do except accept and consume graciously.  It filled me up!  The guy (Kaki) who owns the buffalo often frequents our tea shop and continually apologised to Binod for not being able to offer us milk because of his buffalo’s pregnancy.


Thats all changed now that the baby calf has been born, so we had to promise that we would go back to his house (above) each day, until we leave, to have a glass of his milk.

The next ‘obligatory’ call was just up the street to a tea house which is owned by our friend Hari’s older brother, Baburam.  One of his two delightful boys is my little friend “Gani babu” (learned, wise person).  I wanted to buy him a tea shirt at the material shop, but he was so embarrassed he didn’t want to accept it.  I MADE him choose the one he liked best as I was determined to get him a shirt that he liked, even if he didn’t want to accept it.  He said he didn’t deserve it and that it cost too much.  It cost me AUD4.20!  I guess that is a fortune for a 11 year old Nepali boy.

A chicken was killed for dinner and cooked beautifully in the Nepali way, tossed in a mix of spices before being fried.  It was accompanied by a wonderful array of side dishes that just kept on coming.  Now, remember I was already full of buffalo milk… all this food was making my stomach tighter by the second.  A plate would be finished and cleared away and another one brought.  The last was a plate with a small serving, by Nepali standards, of Mustang grown five-fingered millet.  This is highly prized and is used to make the finest raksi and also a very thick ‘porridge’ with the consistency of grainy putty.  When one is already overfull, this porridge concoction is very difficult to swallow and if it hadn’t been for the luke warm beer, I’m not sure I could have done it any justice at all.  I left the table feeling very uncomfortable.

By the way, Raksi is a traditional distilled alcoholic beverage, often distilled at home. It’s clear like gin and vodka, very strong and it tastes a bit like Sake.  Nepalese drink Raksi to celebrate festivals, religious rituals and social events.


After that huge meal at Baburam’s house, there was the customary hand washing, watched over by Gani babu, his youngest son. 

We arrived back at the health post at 21.30.  Another programme member (Dandapani) had been invited to dinner as well.  Binod and I had walked up to his place a few nights earlier for dinner and had to walk back in the rain in the dark.  However, Dandapani wouldn’t walk back home after dinner as he feared being attacked by a tiger.  It was OK for us but not for him!  So he stayed the night… Binod has two beds in his room, being the one Roger and Annie used. We didn’t really mind. We all slept very well, and heavily.

More anon


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Nepal: A Long Walk to Pokhara

Binod and David’s plan to revisit the villages to collect follow-up data for the maternal health awareness project came to an abrupt end when David’s not so young Apple Air computer finally decided that it didn’t have enough room for all of the video David had taken… and he had run out of external USB capability. An important part of the plan is to have an edited six minute video re the project completed before David leaves Nepal. Now… there’s no shop nearby to pop down to to buy some more external hard drive space. So…

What do you do when you have such an emergency with your computer? Hop in the car and pop down to the local computer store and buy more external hard drive space… or just use another computer that you happen to have in the house. Right?

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That’s the scenerio for most of us… but not quite the case if you are in a remote village in the mountains of Nepal. The nearest town to them is Pokhara… and that journey began with a THREE HOURS WALK from Ranja Deurali to the road head at Dimuwa.  It had been raining and the switch back type mountainous track was muddy and very slippery… and David had to carry not only the computer but also clothes for an over night stay because there was no way they would get back to the village that day. 

(David was able to send some photos of this remote area once he made it to Pokhara… I’ve added his comments.)


David: Nepali doing Harelo Puja (the Land God).  On this day all the planting has been completed so a puja (prayer) is sent to the Gods to appease for any wrongdoing or damage done to the land during the planting season. 


David: Dividing the goat meat up evenly between 10 families who are going to reap the benefits of the 12kg goat that had been slaughtered just minutes before.


David: An interested recipient watching carefully that everything was done correctly.


David: An equally interested recipient.


David:   Lasiandra sp.  I found this flower with accompanying beetle on the path down from our ‘home village’ of Ramja Deurali to Dimuwa.


David: Another little purple flower found growing on the side of the path.

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Finally, Dimuwa and the road head came into sight! (Image from the web)


David: The river near Dimuwa… we crossed this on a long suspension bridge.

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Dimuwa Temple (Image from the web)

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In the village of Dimuwa (Image from the web).

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The next part of the journey took an hour and a half from Dimuwa (near Tilahar) to Pokhara by road.


David: The view down the valley towards Pokhara… still about 45 minutes drive away.


David: A hairy caterpillar was on the path.  After taking the photo, I lifted it onto a plant at the side of the path… I wouldn’t want somebody slipping on the poor creature!


David: There’s one Roadhouse that Binod can’t pass without stopping for a meal. This is the kitchen. A little different from our kitchens at home!


David: The mortar and pestle that was used in preparing our meal.


David: The meal consisted of boiled rice, a bowl of lentil soup, wok cooked sarg (spinach) and a cucumber stew with spices.  The fresh cucumber refreshed the mouth after the meal.

At least, when they finally got to Pokhara, the internet was a bit better, so David was able to send me the above photos. I’m not sure of the order of the photos but they give us a small glimpse into David’s view of his time in Nepal from behind the lens of his camera.


Another plus in Pokhara for David…there was hot water and a western loo in David’s room at the Adam Hotel… but his computer frustrations were far from over as we will learn from his next email contact.

Jennie (for David and Binod)

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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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Nepal: Women’s Work! Millet cultivation in rural village

As I write this, David and Binod are still hiking from one village to another to participate in the singing competition to promote awareness for the need for improvement in women’s health in rural villages in Nepal. While they do that, I thought we’d take a look at the daily life of these rural women who are the focus of this program. They work very hard from dawn till well after dark to grow food in their subsistence way of life.

Binod has put a couple of videos on You tube that will help us to take a peep at their daily life. Today we’ll look at Millet cultivation. I’ve taken some photos from the video to help tell the story (video links below).

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Todo millet, or finger millet, is important here as it provides nourishing food to these subsistence farmers. It’s rich in protien, fiber and minerals and vitamins,  a good substitute for, and addition to, rice or wheat.

In a world desperate for good, healthy foods, most people have never heard of Kodo. It’s usually looked upon as a “poor man’s crop” or a “famine food.” In the ‘developed world’, it’s often used only as birdseed! But researchers are finding that it has many benefits for good health; it’s rich in iron, B vitamins and calcium and is naturally gluten-free. It’s a versatile addition to the diet with its mildly corn flavour. It has a light texture when cooked and is relatively quick-cooking because of the small size of the seed.

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The shallow root system of finger millet makes it ideal for intercropping between the corn plants. Here, Binod works alongside the women and gets a feel for the work involved in this backbreaking task that takes hours to complete.

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They take a well earned rest and drink.

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Kodo millet is a member of the paspalum family, Paspalum scrobiculatum. It’s an annual grass that has slender, light green leaves of 20 to 40 centimeters in length.

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When mature, the plant has an inflorescence that produces several racemes.

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The harvested seeds are very small and vary in colour from light brown to a dark grey. This ancient seed, originally hailing from Africa, is a staple in the diets of about a third of the world’s population. The seeds need to be ground into flour to be used in cooking.

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To see the grinding process, Binod heads in the pouring rain to a house in the village.

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Here, the lady uses a traditional hand grinding mill, or janto, to grind seeds into flour.

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Seeds are poured into the centre of the mill a handful at a time. It’s hard work.

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A little one takes a nap on Mum’s lap while she grinds the seeds.

A woman’s work in these rural villages is never done!

Binod’s videos bring this aspect of life for rural Nepalese women into focus for us. I hope that you can get these You Tube links to work for you.

Video links:

Participation in finger millet (Kodo) cultivation with community people – You Tube

Traditional hand mill (flour mill), (Janto) – the rural village women use this technology everyday – You Tube


More of rural Nepalese village life next time.

David (and Jennie)

All photographs and video copyright © Binod Bindu Sharma

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