My name is Bandana, and I am from an untouchable caste. I work 16 hours a day to feed myself and my family. Our only asset is a ¼ acre field of dry mountainous land which only feeds us for two months of the year. I would have died after the birth of my first son were it not for Foundation Nepal’s healthcare services.
My name is Bandana, and I live in Thehe village in Humla. I am from an untouchable caste, and our occupation is tailoring. I am 20 years old, and am married with a baby. I am illiterate, as my family was too poor to send me to school. There are seven people in our household, and our only asset is a ¼ acre field of dry mountainous land, which we use to grow barley, millet, beans and potatoes. We can only grow sufficient food to feed the family for two months of the year. I must work to buy food for the other 10 months of the year. Tailoring work is very badly paid. I do 8 hours of sewing each day, as well as 8 hours of housework, farming and fetching water.
As a woman in Nepal, I am responsible for all farming work, as well as all household chores. The only means of transport is humans and animals. We have no animals, and I must carry heavy loads for many hours each day. As we are from an untouchable caste, we cannot use the main water supply for the village, we must use a remote water source, so I spend two hours each day carrying water.
I married 18 months ago and became pregnant. During the pregnancy, I was often weak and tired, but I could not visit the health post in the village because of my heavy workload, and because my mother-in-law would not permit it. When I went into labour at home, it lasted for three days and the pain was very severe. I eventually lost consciousness during the labour, and when I came to, I had delivered a baby boy without medical assistance. However, the placenta did not come out after the baby was delivered, which would have led to septicaemia and my death in a few days, had it been left untreated. If I had died, my baby would also have died of hunger.
Luckily, Foundation Nepal’s healthworker came to my house the next day and inserted his hand into my womb and removed the placenta, and gave me medicine, before any severe infection had set in. My baby boy is now eight months old and we are both healthy.
Foundation Nepal supports the health post at Thehe village with health care workers, medicines and equipment. We are setting up women’s literacy programmes and a women’s co-op to support micro-businesses, as well as providing advanced vocational skills training and other programmes to improve household incomes. We also support the local primary school and provide free educational materials, which enables poor children to attend school. With our help, Bandana should be able to upskill and earn more from her work to support her family, and ensure her son gets the education that she never had the opportunity to receive. Education will allow Bandana to improve household income, and access to healthcare and family planning will ensure that she is able to continue to work long hours, and have a family size that she can support.