Nepal: Model Village

RMF Clinician Saves the Life of a Superstitious Woman: February 2018

March 17, 2018

Pragya Gautam, Program and M&E Coordinator

RMF clinician Laxmi inserting an IV

RMF clinician Laxmi inserting an IV

Mina Kunwar

Treating Moderate Dehydration

Mina is a 48-year-old woman who was suffering from loose stools multiple times a day. Her condition was getting worse, as she had several episodes of vomiting too. Instead of visiting a local health facility or health professional, she and her family opted to call for a traditional healer, or “Dhami.” He offered sacred offerings to different gods and goddesses to satisfy them and drive the evil force away so that Mina’s condition would be better, but all the ceremonies were in vain, and Mina’s condition continued deteriorating instead of improving. She was not given water to drink, as her family thought the more water she drank, the more episodes of loose stools she would suffer. Superstition still thrives in the rural areas of Nepal, which leads to increased morbidity and mortality.

When Mina’s condition did not improve after the Dhami’s offerings, her family members finally decided to take her to the RMF clinic in Arupokhari, the nearest health center to their home. RMF clinician Laxmi received Mina and upon assessment found that she was moderately dehydrated and her condition was worsening. Acting promptly, Laxmi inserted an IV for Mina and infused two pints of Ringer’s lactate solution. The results were immediately seen; Mina visibly started to feel better. She was also given metronidazole and ciprofloxacin in injectable forms.

Mina was allowed to drink oral rehydration solution as well. At first, she refused to drink, fearing that she would have more loose stools, but once she was counseled about the role of the solution in the treatment of loose stools, she quickly understood and drank the therapy she was given. After a few hours, when her condition was more stable, she was discharged from the clinic. Mina and her daughter-in-law wondered at how ignorant they had been about the illness. Mina said that the bottles of saline worked magic on her, and now she would visit the RMF clinic any time she fell ill, rather than visiting the traditional healer. She was very grateful when she left. Through prompt treatment and effective counseling, RMF’s clinician once again proved her efficiency in overcoming the superstitions that prevail in rural society.

Altogether, 7,062 patients benefitted from health services provided by the RMF Health Clinic in the year 2017. Quality, around-the-clock services and the availability of affordable medications have been key factors in the RMF clinic’s growing popularity, both in the village of Arupokhari and surrounding communities.

  • Rebuild the village as a replicable model, which will include earthquake-safe structures designed by architects and engineers
  • Use local natural and human resources to ensure ownership and sustainability
  • Improve healthcare access and education based on the needs of the communities and with the leadership of the local people

In line with RMF’s concepts and the government of Nepal’s vision for a comprehensive and eventually sustainable Model Village, RMF, in close partnership and collaboration with Sarswati Foundation will be working towards the development of a Model Village in Arupokhari. Sarswati Foundation has been working in Arupokhari, Gorkha since 2009 as a non-profit. This was co-founded by Subhash Ghimire, a native from that village and editor-in-chief of the Republica, Nepal’s leading English daily that publishes with the New York Times in Kathmandu.

Following the devastating earthquake, the non-profit has been actively engaged in relief and reconstruction works in the area, which includes providing food and temporary shelter relief to the affected people. So far, the foundation has delivered 7.5 tons (100 sacks of 30 kg rice, 50 sacks of 50 kg lentils, 500 sacks of 0.5 L of oil, 500 packets of 1 kg salt, 495 blankets, 350 tents) to the community, and aims to rebuild the village as a replicable model, which will include earthquake-safe structures designed by architects and engineers, utilizing local natural and human resources to ensure ownership and sustainability, improved healthcare access, education and livelihood programs, based on the needs of the communities and with the leadership of the local people.

Similarly, the village also holds a huge potential as a thriving Manaslu trekking route, along with a 600-megawatt hydro project being planned around in the area. In addition, the community is also actively engaged in production of local agricultural products and livestock. With a thought-out detailed plan, the opportunities of the village could be tapped in to create a replicable, integrated and sustainable Model Village.

RMF supports the rebuilding of Sarswati Peace School (more than 200 students, mostly from economically and culturally marginalized backgrounds) and Darbar Higher Secondary School (public school with more than 400 students), both of which were badly damaged during the earthquake. The current plan is to demolish the existing damaged structure and construct earthquake resistant buildings.

Along with the support to the reconstruction of the schools, the model village project also seeks to help build at least 100 temporary shelters and 700 permanent houses to the identified most vulnerable households in the community and one earthquake resistant local health center. Health services, education, and the economy will be supported for the long-term as the people of Arupokhari build a stronger future in collaboration with RMF and Sarswati.