From development aid to self-reliance

Are you familiar with the colorful images of hard-working Nepalese women in the rice fields? With 40 kg of freight in the basket on their backs down the mountain? Or with jugs of water from the valley the same way back up? Taking care of children, parents and in-laws, laboring on plots of land and caring for the cattle?

Generally, life isn’t easy in Nepal.... But what if you have to deal with a prolapse of the pelvic organs on top of that? Shame and lack of knowledge prevent you from sharing your burden with family and friends. You just keep on working, what else can you do? Health workers in the Nepalese mountains often lack a thorough knowledge of pelvic organ prolapse, and the suffering that comes with it. Let alone that they can offer solutions to this debilitating problem. And even if the woman with a severely prolapsed uterus finally finds the way to a hospital: who will help her if she has no money for medical care?

It is a challenging but also an inspiring problem. Solutions are available and often simple: good medical advice, a pessary or a surgical intervention.

With these solutions in mind, the Women for Women Foundation started in 2002 to help individual women in the mountains of Nepal. Helping to make life bearable and enabling women to take care of their life .

Despite the efforts of many willing physicians and nurses the question remains if our effort is enough. Often the first results are impressive, but soon thereafter reality kicks in. The problem is so big and there are so many women who need help. The sheer volume of women in need exceeds the capacity of the Nepalese government and the local aid workers have insufficient training and skills.

The only sensible answer is: education and training in Nepal in order to transfer knowledge and skills. Training is needed at all levels: starting with the women (and girls) in the villages of Nepal and continuing with health post staffs and gynecologists in Nepal. And last but not least the Nepalese government. Promoting self-reliance with regard to diagnostics and treatment of prolapse is the main goal of Women for Women with 16 years of experience. In addition, we continuously evaluate the efficacy of our interventions in Nepal. How are women doing after treatment? What is the recurrence rate? How is the position of the woman in her family and in her village before and after treatment of the prolapse? We turn to Nepalese anthropologists to answer these questions that are difficult for Western aid workers.

Complete self-reliance remains our ultimate goal, which eventually will make the Women for Women Foundation redundant. Until then, we continue our support to Nepal and greatly appreciate your help and financial aid to realize our goal…..