Written by Eric Moffett and photographed by Sarah Abou Jaoudeh
Global Orphan Prevention have teamed up with two organizations and undertaken the mission of rebuilding birthing centers in remote and rugged locations in North-Central Nepal after two major earthquakes. The most significant damage in this country occurred in areas directly to the northeast and -west of the capital of Kathmandu, stretching to the Chinese border. Countless villages across steep mountain ranges that hug the Himalaya have experienced total destruction of labor and delivery facilities.
Click here to watch a video tour of our first birthing center
Our partners are the Midwifery Society of Nepal (MIDSON) and Helping Assist Nepal’s Disabled (HAND). MIDSON, a trade and advocacy association native to Nepal, “contribute[s] to the reduction of maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality in Nepal by providing skilled [and] compassionate care to women during the entire maternity and reproductive cycle.” And HAND, a US-based nonprofit organization, “serve[s] the Nepali people who suffer from disabilities of all types,” and takes special aim at serving communities in isolated and inaccessible regions
The alliance of GOP, MIDSON and HAND focuses on remote Nepali communities in need of immediate relief efforts. The engagement of these organizations has centered on maternal and neonatal care through providing temporary birthing centers, medical and postpartum supplies, and labor and delivery training. Our primary objective is to support communities and individuals during labor and delivery and for the duration of the postpartum timeframe (defined as the first six weeks of the newborn’s life). Our philosophy balances upon the principle that we have the ability to prevent infant and maternal mortality; indeed, more than half of such deaths occur during the childbirth and postpartum period.
Our methods include the construction of temporary birthing facilities. We provide high-quality tents intended to serve the community until permanent arrangements can be undertaken; especially in light of the imminent monsoon season. Besides staging necessary supplies and equipment as available, further services involve education and training of local health workers plus the provision of birthing and post-birth supplies (“kits”) for mothers and birth attendants. These kits contain a receiving blanket, sterile gloves, cotton diapers, maternal nutrition options, soap and more.
We have now completed two field “missions,” one in Rautbesi, Nuwakot District, and another in Ichowk, Sindhupalchowk District. Both villages are located within great river gorges in the midst of towering summits. The first site, Rautbesi, experienced complete condemnation of its health post; a large two story building that leaned off the edge of a cliff to the river below; it was reported that 78 pregnant women were once dependent on its birthing center. The second, and most recent, site of Ichowk experienced an incredible amount of destruction - the health post lay in rubble, only the foundation and wall remnants could be distinguished from the piles of rocks; most of the village resembled this scene.
Plans are now in action for four additional birthing centers. The first mission departed June 10th, to Dhading District, after which the team returned for two days and then departed June 14th for a multiday, three site mission in Sindhupalchowk District. These missions have been planned in conjunction with the US-based 501(c)3 One Heart World-wide, who has furnished intel and data, plus medical supplies, tents and solar power cases. As well, the 501(c)3 organization, Khusi Hona has provided additional supplies such as tarp tents and blankets.
On a reflective note, the great lesson of this work proves the power of collaboration. The partnership of GOP, MIDSON and HAND has employed personnel and expertise in order to outfit a highly motivated and capable team. Further, through pooling human capital and physical resources our alliance has optimized a unique model and methodology, thus occupying a distinct niche in the earthquake relief effort within Nepal.
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