After the earthquakes: A journey towards safe motherhood in Nepal

By: 
CARE
Putali Gurung with her baby

Imagine walking for three days while pregnant, just to get to basic health facilities for a safe birth.

For many pregnant women in the remote villages of Gorkha district in Nepal, they don't have to imagine what it's like. This has been their reality for as long as they can remember.

CARE is helping to change this. Since the 2015 earthquakes devastated the region, CARE has been supporting the people of Nepal to build back better and safer.

This is the story of Uhiya village, where CARE is helping the villagers to construct a new health post.

Uhiya village in Nepal
A beautiful location - but the rugged terrain means the only way in and out of the village is on foot
Temporary health post in Uhiya village
After the earthquakes in 2015, the villagers have relied on a temporary health post which lacks the facilities and trained personnel to provide childbirth support
Aash Kumari Gurung in a darkened room
Aash Kumari Gurung still mourns the death of her 18-year-old daughter and unborn grandchild, who died while being carried to the nearest health post three days walk
The Bishwakarma family in Nepal
Rammaya Bishwakarma, her husband Buddhi Raj Bishwakarma, and their son

Rammaya Bishwakarma is pregnant and is expecting her second child. Her husband, Buddhi Raj, says:

Our first child almost died during his birth as there were no trained health assistants to help my wife during childbirth.

Kanchi Gurung with people in a room
Kanchi Gurung (centre) gave birth 2 months after the earthquake in 2015, but her baby survived for less than a week

The doctor had told Kanchi Gurung to visit the hospital during her eighth month of pregnancy, but she says:

I was not in a condition to walk to the hospital as I was experiencing pain.

Mules on a steep hillside path in Nepal
Mules are used to transport materials like cement and mortar to the village to construct the new health post
Two women carrying supplies in Nepal
Lal Maya Gurung and Poonam Gurung are carrying information materials to promote awareness in Uhiya village about safe maternal and child health
Sunmaya Sunar and boy in Nepal
Sunmaya Sunar breaks stones to be used in preparing mortar for the foundations of a new health centre in Uhiya village

Sunmaya Sunar breaks stones to be used in preparing mortar for the foundations of a new health centre in Uhiya village. She says: "When my granddaughter was born, she had to be delivered at home as the health post was so far from the village."

I think those days will be gone once we have a health post in our village.

Kamal Bahadur Rawat in the health post in Nepal
Kamal Bahadur Rawat in the temporary health post

Kamal Bahadur Rawat works in the temporary health post and is looking forward to the new facilities. He says:

The new health post will motivate pregnant mothers as they can receive reproductive health services in a private room.

Sun Kumari Gurung smiling
Sun Kumari Gurung is a community health volunteer

Sun Kumari Gurung is a community health volunteer. She says the training they receive from CARE "is so important because what we learn from the training is what we teach to the community".

Santa Maya Ghale smiling
Santa Maya Ghale, a retired community health volunteer

Santa Maya Ghale, a retired community health volunteer, has seen mothers delivering babies in farms and cow sheds in the past. She says:

The new birthing centre facilities in the health post will surely help women as they won't have to walk for days for their treatment. However, we need to encourage the young women in our village to use these facilities as most of them are very shy to talk about their problems during pregnancies.

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News and stories are provided by CARE staff working to support our emergency responses and long-term development programmes.