Report by: Lalita Lamicchane

The title of this blog is not a sensationalized headline but a harsh reality faced by many. For example, more than 25% of the people in the UK say that Cancer is due to some type of “fate” rather than smoking. Similarly, in rural communities like the ones we serve, a lack of awareness about basic health issues for girls and women is showing that a lack of education can indeed kill.

Understanding the severity of the issue, the Rukmini Mom’s Club organized a daylong program to raise awareness of women’s health issues at Bhandarkharka village. Ms. Radha Gyawali of NAHUDA (a non-profit, NGO established in 1992 with a mission to develop human resources specifically in women’s reproductive health) served as the resource person and led the program.

Ms. Radha Gyali presenting women’s health issues and awareness.

This is the first time such a program has ever been held in this village, which is mostly inhabited by members of the Tamang community. The community has a very low literacy rate for women and health awareness is also very low. This kind of program was long overdue, and seeing 24 women participating in the program was a very good sight. On this day we covered a lot of areas, including the following:

  • Reproductive health
  • Ovarian cancer, causes, symptoms and cure
  • Breast cancer
  • Effects on health from early marriage
  • Birth gap and other issues
  • Pelvic organ prolapse (POP)
  • General Sanitation / Hand washing methods

The participants were taking an interest in the topics. Ms Gyawali discussed how one can self-examine to find out the symptoms of breast cancer. The participants mentioned some interesting facts that they were not aware of such problems that arise inside their body. Some said they knew they had a problem but were not able to discuss with others. They expressed that they learned a lot from the program.

Ms. Gyawali explained why cleanliness is important for good health and taught seven processes of washing hands. Washing hands before eating, washing after touching dirty things. Cleaning hands of children is equally important since everybody uses their hand for eating.

Everyone went outside to learn how to wash hands properly as shown by Ms. Gyawali.

Participants enthusiastically participated in all activities including this seemingly simple, but very effective lesson on how basic sanitation can prevent illness.

I gave birth a month ago, so this program was very valuable to me. I knew what kind of special care I should be taking as a new mother. I learned about ovarian cancer due to lack of proper cleanliness. Hand washing is the first step of cleanliness that I learned today. I am going to teach my family and others about this.

Sirjana Bomjhon, Event Participant

I am forty years old, but I have never had a checkup of my ovaries. I did not know how important this was to do and now I know that I can get this checkup for free. I will go to the hospital and get checked up soon.

Hira Lama, Event Participant
Participants enjoyed a nutritious meal afterwards to bring the powerful day to a close.

If lack of education can kill, conversely, education and awareness have the potential to save lives. Three takeaways from Rukmini Mom’s Club’s recent daylong program: first, we focused on a remote location and under-served population. Second, the educational program was active, collaborative, and hands-on. Finally, the third, the program provided practical and lifelong lessons for the participants.

We look forward to our Moms club conducting similar workshops in the future.

About Laxmi Aryal

Laxmi was the first female in her family to receive an education. While the education she received was limited, she was able to make the best of it and became the first person from her family and village to complete high school, undergraduate studies and eventually a Masters degree. She eventually earned a Masters Degree from the University of Pittsburgh in Public Policy. Hers is an inspirational story that the Rukmini Foundation hopes to replicate. She serves as an inspiration for the foundation and its leadership.
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