Voluntarism in Jhumlawang

Dharma!

Academically, the word is understood as ‘religion’. However, in Jhumlawang, people use the word ‘dharma’ to mean ‘the good work’. It is specially used when the act is for greater good of the society and people.

These days, you can often hear village’s elders use a phrase “Dharma Garyachan!” They are using the phrase to express their joy and pride when they see new projects and programs in the village. Literally, the expression can be understood as ‘they have done good work’. Their pride outspreads as youths are getting more involved in volunteering for these projects.

Shyam Thapa, Sub-civil engineer, with Parshuram and Ajay
Shyam Thapa, Sub-civil engineer with Ajay and Parshuram

“Along with new projects and youths involvement in the village; voluntarism seems to be more organized and encouraging,” says Ram Bahadur Budha, Chairperson of JVF-Nepal.

Though new ways of voluntarism is being introduced in the village, the idea itself is not new to the society. In a small, closed society like Jhumlawang, the social voluntarism is of greatest need. Village people come together in almost every important events of life: in birth, in marriage, in death, in building houses, making roads, water taps, chautari and so on.

Voluntarism in Jhumlawang is generally done through ‘Jhara’. It is called for mainly in two different occasions; one is to assist individual and another is for the common purpose. Similar trend are being observed in volunteering. Generally, when calling for ‘jhara’, it is for everyone in the village (one member of the family is a must). But, recently, voluntarism is also done individually. The constant example has been the architect Ajay Magar.

Architect Ajay Magar in School Building Project
Architect Ajay Magar in School Building Project

Ajay, architect by profession, designer and supervisor of JVF-Nepal’s Community Health Center, Community Cultural Center and School Extension Project, has been spending long time supervising in the field. Recently, he was in Jhumlawang for 6 months, volunteering in the school project. His selfless act of serving the society has been highly admired. Among his admirers is Hom Jung Rana, Headmaster of Jhumlawang Primary School who likens him with the labourers of Dolpo.

“Not any Dolpo labour but the one who is most hardworking, most sincere, most dedicated and determined,” he emphasizes. Famous for using metaphors and similes, Rana’s comparison of Ajay to Dolpo laborer is wholly agreed upon by people who worked with him and people who saw him working.

“He worked more than anyone of us,” JVF-Nepal’s Field Co-ordinator Parshuram Budha seconds Rana, “He is a supervisor but he worked as a laborer, as a carpenter, as a collie, and what not!” He recalls working from 7 am to 7 pm, straight; sometimes.

“It is very difficult to keep up with him in work,” Laxman Budha, Field Sub-Engineer in the project says, “He gives his best and expects that from others as well.” Parshuram clarifies “Ajay believes in ‘If I do it, others will also do it’ motto.”

Jung Bahadur Kunwar, carpenter of the school project, says while it was a very demanding work, it was also a great learning experience for him and his team. “We knew only how to make square and triangle,” he states, “After working with him I have learned the possibilities of pentagon and even hexagon.”

Parshuram adds, “Ajay is an example for people who aspire to do something for their society.” He hopes slowly there will be more people who will follow his example in the village.

While individual voluntarism is a new trend in the village, group voluntarism has been of constant practice. Especially through Jhumlawang Youth Club (Laligurans Jana Yuva Club) group voluntarism has been prominent.

"United We Stand" ! Youth Members of Jhumlawang Youth Club
“United We Stand” ! Youth Members of Jhumlawang Youth Club

This year, youths spent 3 days for afforestation around the Jhumlawang Primary School. During Dashain, they collaborated with Jhumlawang Forest Committee in order to collect fund for upgrading school from Primary to Secondary level. Purna Gurung, a Youth Club member, was a Singaru (a dancer in a traditional dance Singaru which is only danced during Dashain). They collected Rs. 19,000 excluding the expenditure.

Again, in Tihar (Dipawali) – the festival of light, Youth Club led ‘Deusi-Bhailo’ program to collect financial support for school. Youths who had returned back to celebrate Dashain-Tihar joined the youths in village to go from house to house dancing, singing and making merriment while collecting ‘Daan-Dakshina’ (fund). In four days of Deusi-Bhailo they were able to collect the total of Rs 99,957.

“Through school we are working for our future,” Youth Club President Bhim Prasad Shrestha says, “Of course, wherever we are, we are coming together to work for betterment of our society, always.”

‘Deusi-Bhailo’ program to collect financial support for school
‘Deusi-Bhailo’ program to collect financial support for school

With time and the circumstances, Jhumlawangies have spread around the world; some in search of education, some in search of work and some in search of comfortable life. But, no matter where they are, through different means and medium they are coming together for betterment of the village. In their endeavor, like-minded organizations like Foghlaim, GRC Solidarity, Association Partages, and Association Humanitaire Partage et Soins have been supporting the community continuously.

Seeing new projects focused in education, health, culture and overall development of people in the village and full involvement of young generation along with assistance from different international organizations in these development works; it is no wonder older generation is full of joy and pride. However, their pride is not one sided. Well aware of elders’ contribution in establishing and sustaining school, acting as a bridge between generations to transfer traditional knowledge in the village, youths are equally grateful. And they say, ‘Dharma garyahun; gardaichhan!” – They did good work and they continue to do so!

By:

Smita Magar,

Jhumlawang, Rukum

Nov 12, 2014

 

All for Secondary Level School

Jhumlawang, Rukum

There is a 13 year old boy in Jhumlawang whom teachers and elder people of the village would prefer to avoid meeting. The reason is simple; his constant inquiry, “When is our school starting?”

The boy, Nabin BK, wants a definite answer. “I want to know whether I have a chance of studying in my own village’s school,’ he reasons. He is a 6th grade student in Shree Shahid Shukra Higher Secondary School, Sima. Every morning, it takes him more than an hour walk to go to school.

“It’s not exactly a problem but it’s a very long way to walk,” Nabin states, “I don’t get much time to do my homework.” Three hours of to and fro leaves him tired in the evening. He says if the school was in the village, he could spend more time studying and helping at home.

Janmala Shrestha, mother of Urmila, 5th grade student in Shree Primary School, Jhumlawang is equally eager to know when Secondary level will start in the village. “It would worry me less if Urmila gets to study in our own school.”  A JVF-Nepal member Janmala’s elder daughter Sharmila studies in Sima school. “How I wish the school extension process had started earlier,” says Janmala, “Sharmila would not have to walk such a long way, every day.”

Students studying in Sima complain of exhaustion and no time for study. While, parents are worried about their decreasing marks in exam. Also, when students join Sima school they are in their early teenage. This delicate phase of their children worries their parents. “Far from home, in another village, our children have been found to have forgotten their discipline, sometimes,” says President of Jhumlawang School Management Committee Sher Bahadur Shrestha. According to him students tend to be more prone to negative influence in neighboring village.

 All these concerns has led Jhumlawangies to start the process of establishing Secondary level (i.e. till 8 grade) in the village, itself. The last meeting of teachers, parents and School Management Committee on 18th September decided that it was time for upgrade. The school has begun its preparation to get a permission from District Education Department (DED). To get a letter of support and permission from five other neighboring Secondary school is not a problem. Getting three experienced teachers also doesn’t seem much of a trouble. The hurdle is as always, financial.

“To tackle it, for a start we have decided to collect Rs. 1000 from each house,” says School’s Headmaster Hom Jung Rana. The Jhumlawang Youth Club is collecting donation by playing Deusi Bhailo in Tihar. It has already collected some amount by performing Singaru dance during Dashain festival.

Headmaster Rana is looking after all the document-process of school extension. Excited as he is about this new venture, he argues it’s not only about the necessity but also of prestige. “We are known for educated ones in this area but we still do not have secondary level school,” he says, “We cannot always be with primary school; we have to march forward.”

NEW SCHOOL BUILDING
New school building alongside old one.

Parshu Ram Budha, JVF field Co-ordinator, says the students’ population makes it a compulsory. “JVF-Nepal realized this necessity a long time ago that is why we have already built the building,” The newly built school building is result of active participation of community members, diaspora members with JVF’s partnership with three organizations from three countries: Association Partages- FRANCE, Foghlaim- IRELAND, and GRC Solidarity- ITALY is giving hopes to villagers in ensuring the Secondary Level this year.

It takes three years to upgrade Primary school to Secondary level. First year, they have to sustain grade 6, then next year grade 7. In third year grade 8 is added, if successfully executed, the school gets the permission to upgrade to Secondary level.

This fact has not deterred Nabin from questioning whoever has something to do with school extension program. “I have siblings,” he says, “It will be great if they don’t have to go through all the trouble I am going through.”

-Smita Magar

Oct 11, 2014

Raj Bahadur Gurung

Raj Bahadur Gurung (1976-2014)- Founding Chairman of JVF-NEPAL

Raj Bahadur Gurung
(1976- February, 2014)

Founding Chairman,and
Field Co-ordinator
(2008-2014)
JVF-NEPAL

Raj Bahadur Gurung, one of the founding members of Jhumlawang Village Foundation ( JVF-NEPAL), and Field Co-ordinator tragically passed away on 6th February 2014 in a Bus Accident in Palpa,west Nepal.

Our Kathmandu Co-ordinator Purna Magar and he was on their way to Butwal from Kathmandu to visit our 3 scholars who have been studying JTA- Animal Science & JTA-Plant Science.

We are saddened and devastated with this tragic news. We lost a Great Community Leader, one of the most dedicated members who have been working days and nights to make sure that we make our community an example on “Sustainable Based Development” in Nepal so that others can learn from us.

We pray with our ancestors and deities to offer his departed soul rest in eternal peace, and give us strength to deal with this difficult time.

Our Kathmandu Co-ordinator Purna Magar was critically injured and now has been going through operation in Palpa Mission Hospital. We are praying for successful of his operation and speedy recovery !!!

Our prayers and thoughts are with all other families and communities who also lost their loved ones in this tragic accident and going through pains like we are.

6th February 2014

Condolence- Raj Gurung (1)Condolence- Raj Gurung (2)

Founding Fathers of our School with Byakul Maila

School Establishment Committee in 1978-1983:

Remaining members of the School Establishment Committee-1978 with Byakul Maila (Author of the lyrics of the National Anthem of Nepal) and first teacher of the school Mr Ram Bahadur Gharti Magar at the Felicitation Program jointly organised by Primary School Jhumlawang and JVF-NEPAL on 26th December 2011.

Mr Chitra Bahadur Budha
Mr Chandra Prasad Rana
Mr Gore Gurung
Mr Ram Bahadur Budha
Mr Tek Bahadur Shrestha
Late Mr Bin Raj Sunar
Late Mr Dhan Bahadur Thapa
Late Mr Mohan Lal Roka
Late Mr Tek Bahadur Rana

A Japani Dakdor in Our Door

Jhumlawang, Rukum:

Dr Ryukichi Ishida is a very quiet person. He does not make noise and rarely makes you feel his presence. And yet, whenever he makes his way through villages of mid-Western region of Nepal every eyes and ears are tuned to his footsteps. People from other neighbouring villages also walk for days to the Health Centre/health camp he is stationed at a time in hopes of being checked by the ‘Japani Dakdor’ from Thawang.

Dr Ishida in jhumlabang villageAnd their Japani Dakdor does not let them down. Unlike the ‘modern doctors’ of urban hospitals he is not only at their doorsteps but also charges not a penny for his services. In his aura of soft, gentle and caring personality the innocent village people seem to forget their usual ‘terror’ over the idea of seeing doctors or going to hospitals. His kind smile with slightly accented Nepali words ‘k bhayo?’, ‘dukchha?’, ‘kaha dukchha?’- (What happened? Does it pain? Where does it pain?) -instantly encourages patients to tell their stories of misfortune.

A 67-years old Orthopaedist intently listens to their stories, patiently, as if he has the time of the world. Only once a while does he look for local assistant’s interpretation. He uses few known Nepali words, sign languages and gestures to communicate with his patients. He doesn’t only check the patients but also gives consultancy and tries to help as much as possible through his expertise and network. His effort is to make the treatment as much reachable and affordable as possible to these village people.

japani doctor Ishida in jhumlabang“There is a very huge health inequity between Nepal, India and Japan,” a member of MSF (Médecins Sans Frontières – Doctors without Border) Dr Ishida says with concern, “Here; good health care is only focused on the wealthy people.” He considers this situation as a new humanitarian crisis created by neo-liberalism and globalization.

It is to further understand this crisis that has led him to walk through the villages of mid-Western Nepal as a ‘Medical Anthropology’ researcher for CNAS (Centre for Nepal and Asian Studies) from his research base Thawang, Rolpa. His research topic “Integrative approach to the traditional healers and modern medical practices” focuses on finding ways to balance the health inequity prevalent in the country.

Dr Ishida in Thawang - health centerWhile pursuing his medical research, equally close observant of the social issues and situations, Kobe born Doctor Ishida says he is in a quest to find answers to the questions that have poked him throughout his life. The current one being “WHY and how to overcome these inequity?” other questions that had arose during his youth days continue to be unanswered. “The search continues,” he smiles.

It was this nature of searching for answers that had him ended up in Nepal in 1968. A third year student in Kyoto University, at the age of 21, had packed his rucksack for a year-long journey of Asia, Europe and Russia; alone. His purpose was to experience the true life of Asian people and to find out answers to questions such as: What is the truth of Vietnam War? Is American campaign correct or the Viet-Congs? What is the problem between Japan and other Asian countries?

In his one year journey, he spent 6 months in India and Nepal. In India, he volunteered in Leprosy Centre of Agra. He was a part of traveling clinic for street lepers around Agra. “I was shocked by the reality,” he shakes his head at the memory, “So much of street leper expelled from their villages.”

After his voluntary in India, he came to Nepal. The mountainous country was not new for him. He was a member of mountaineering club of the University and had heard from his seniors.

At that time, tourism was not so common, especially in Western Nepal. So when he walked all the way from Pokhara, Beni Bazaar, Kali Gandaki to Tansen, he took shelter in the houses of local villagers; ate what they offered and slept on what they provided.

One day, he happened to stay in a house of an ex-Gurkha army. “He was probably a Magar, very old and he knew Japanese,” Doctor Ishida remembers with smile, “He said he learned Japanese from a Japanese war prisoner who had become his friend during War”.

Alone in an unknown place where no one spoke his language, finding a man who could speak his tongue gave him immense happiness. When he was leaving he wanted to pay for the homestay and food but the man would not accept. “This intimacy, kindness and friendliness towards a stranger touched my heart.”

He also remembers his strange meeting with an eye patient while passing through Tansen Mission Hospital. The man had asked “Dabai Chha?” (Do you have medicine?) confusing young Ishida. After years, the Doctor is to learn what the person meant and be prompted to come back to Nepal.

It was in Nepal, during his journey, he met his mentor Dr Noboru Iwamura in Tansen Mission Hospital.community health in Nepal Dr Iwamura invited him to join on his BCG vaccination campaign in different villages around Tansen. Dr Ishida considers this meet as ‘the happiest and luckiest one chance’ where he learned how to approach to the reality of Nepal. In his 3 weeks of voluntary work with the prominent doctor he concludes, “I noticed the importance of traditional medicine.”

Carrying these experiences and memories the young Ishida had continued his journey to other Asian countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, and to Europe to Russia to back home by hitch-hiking with hippies. After travelling through India and Nepal he had got confidence that he could survive anyway, anywhere. And it was in this journey he got the profound knowledge, “You see, a rich traveller does not know the reality of places he travels; a hitchhiker does.”

It was this knowledge of the reality he had garnered during his hitchhiking days that beckoned him to Nepal after a gap of nearly 4 decades. In that gap, he had become one of the renowned Orthopaedist in the country, had worked for reputed private hospitals such as Kyoto-Minami Hospital and Ueda-Shimotanabe Hospital of Japan and had not only done orthopaedics surgery but also operations of the brain surgery, chest surgery, gynaecology, urology and so on.

As his experiences and expertise increased so his age. It was when he crossed 60 his urge for continuing his quest for answers left him sleepless. “I remembered medical practices in Nepal, the words of my mentor, the friendly village people and the question, ‘Dabai chha?’” he adds, “And, I came back looking for answers.”

So, when he came back in 2006, 37 years had passed. Nepal had changed. It had gone through different political phases and some social changes and yet the health inequity had increased further.

Japanese Dr Ishida in hilli region NepalTo understand the ground reality of changed Nepal he immediately started voluntary work in Tansen Mission Hospital in 2006, Rukum/Chaurjhari Hospital in 2007 and in 2009 headed the “Primary Trauma Care Research Caravan” from Jumla to Baglung. After this Caravan, regular visit to Rolpa, Thawang started. Currently, he is spending 6 months in Nepal, goes back Japan to collect funds and returns back to help those in need. This way, his second life in Nepal, began.

When he came to Nepal it was not that there were no medical activities by NGOs/INGOs. But, as per his understanding most of these activities have charity mind which is one type of empire mentality and mission activity is another kind of ruling system. Criticizing these activities he says “They do not support sustainable development as they have top-down approach.” Western Medicine, alone, according to Dr Ishida, is not good activity for sustainability. To make it sustainable he states we should follow the mantra of Dr Iwamura, i.e. ‘Sangai Jiunako Lagi’ (to survive together).

“When I read Dr Iwamura, again, I realized, ‘the huge hidden human resources are there in the society.’ We must dig up them and integrate for the better result, making it sustainable.” He does not hesitate to accept the fact that he had not known the positive side of traditional healers/traditional bone settlers (TBS), in past days, himself. He says he is surprised time and again when he finds these TBS better than that of Kathmandu’s amateur doctors. “I look at them do their job and think ‘Oh! They have good skill!’ from time to time.”

He is now in contact with the TBSs of Dang, Salyan, Rukum and Rolpa whose knowledge have further strengthened his belief in utmost necessity of fusing these traditional and modern knowledge of medicine and practices.

In the present reality of Nepal where doctors do not want to come to rural parts of the country Dr Ishida feels it is basically necessary to integrate Western medicine and traditional medicinal practices for better outcome. “Without them in the picture sustainable development is impossible.”

Dr Ishida in jhumlabangGovernment of Nepal has unfortunately banned some traditional practices. There is an urgent need for Government policy to integrate them; taking the positive knowledge and skill from traditional healers while discouraging some negative practices. Else the knowledge is likely to disappear without being transferred to the new generation. “The traditional knowledge of these TBS can be taken as national dignity,” Dr Ishida strongly states “Nepal has important cultures within medicine.” As it is not influenced from colonial empire but of independent thinking and practice he believes it can be a national property, pride and traditional heritage as is in Japan.

At the same time, while speaking of integration, Dr Ishida feels that medicinal issues should not be looked separately from social issues. “Social issues and medical issues must be connected because medical issues cannot be solved without social change,” he emphasizes on fusing them for a healthy society.

For the creation of healthy society, not only physically but also psychologically, socio-culturally and economically, he states unity is a must among people. As he has observed for years, for rural development projects in the region different ideologies are prohibiting unity. Meanwhile, there is ‘refugee’ diaspora mind and local diaspora mind which conflict in the approaches to the development. “These things need to be overcome,” he says.

As he observes, gives his medicinal services for free while doing his research, helps financially to those who are in need and has almost gone native with his preference to dhido and ‘alikati raksi’; has he found answers to his questions? ‘Not yet,” he says, “These are continuous questions.” So, he says it will continue forever, throughout his second life, as he declares. So, how has his second life been going? “Till now, it has been interesting and very pleasant.”

-Smita Magar,

6th July 2014

Pratiksha wants to play…

Kathmandu: “She wants to walk and play with her new friends,” Narmata Roka says while holding her smita with pratikshadaughter Pratiksha, “But, doctor saap has strictly told not to move around for some more weeks.”

It has been more than two weeks since 8-year old Pratiksha had her skin-transplant surgery at Hospital and Rehabilitation Center for Disabled Children (HRDC) in Banepa. Ever since her surgery Pratiksha has been lying on her belly and manages shy smiles to visitors before hiding under blanket or on her mother’s lap.

Narmata, 58, says her youngest daughter wants to recover soon so that she can run and play with friends in the hospital. However, with her bandages and doctor’s strict order she is just lying restless waiting for the day when she is allowed to play as much as she likes.

pratikshaPratiksha, from Sima village of Morawang VDC, is suffering from spinal deformity. Her life has been at risk as her spinal is affecting her lung causing less oxygen needed for her brain and body. Her left side of the Scapula and Ilium is touching each other. This has resulted in her body bent towards left side with shorter leg and lack of normal body growth. Dr. Ishida Ryk, a Japanese doctor who has been stationed at Thawang Health Center, Rolpa, believes it might take more than 3 operations for her to have her health back to normal.

She was not born with spinal deformity. “It was after a week of birth she got a rash on her back. When it got infected and worsened we took her to see doctors in Rukumkot,” Narmata, mother of 7 children recalls. It was with luck there was a mobile health camp set by French voluntary doctors at that time. They didn’t only check her but also financially supported the family to take Pratiksha for further treatment in Nepalgunj Medical College Teaching Hospital. However, as she was just about a month old doctors felt it was riskier to operate.

pratiksha's backbone“They gave us ointments for infection and asked us to return after few months,” Namrata says. By the time they were back to Sima, the infection seemed to have healed leaving small marks. The Roka family didn’t feel necessary to take her for further check-ups especially when they learned that mobile health camp had already left and the doctor in Nepalgunj was not there.

From a poor agricultural background and with many mouths to feed Pratiksha’s parents became busier, her health took a backseat. It was only after years, gravity of her deteriorating health started to be noticeable. The small mark on her back had grown bigger. Her left side of a body had bent in such a way that her shoulder’s scapula and hip’s Ilium touched each other.

Namrata remembers Pratiksha complaining of pain whenever she walked. But they didn’t have means to take her to hospital. “I realized, in old age, neither our body supports us to work for earning nor our mind allows to resort in stealing,” she explains her challenges.Ishida rukum

It became easier to seek for assistance when Dr. Ishida set health camp in Jhumlawang Community Health Center. He declared Pratiksha’s case one of the rarest and recommended for operation as soon as possible. He assisted through his networking and expertise to admit her in HRDC. He has also been assisting financially for Pratiksha’s operation.

In hard times, finding helping hands was like finding God to look after her daughter, says Namrata. “I don’t know how long it is going to take her to be able to run as she dreams of but these supports we are getting from kind and generous people gives me hope for better days for my daughter.”

The next operation is yet to be decided. But, Pratiksha’s desire to run and her mother’s hope for better days for her makes optimistic environment for everyone involved. “JVF family will be supporting in her journey of recovery in any way possible,” International Co-ordinator Kush Budha said.

-Smita Magar

1st June 2014

‘Nazar’ for Jhumlawang Community Health Centre

Jhumlawang, July 18, 2013.

‘Nazar’ is Padma Linkha Magar’s debut album. Strong believer of ‘have to do whatever we can do for improvement of lives’, she has decided to donate the entire amount collected from the album for the operation of the Jhumlawang Community Health Centre.

Lyricist Padma, born in Mamling, Sankhuwasabha of Eastern Nepal, became member of Jhumlawang village, Rukum of Mid-Western Nepal by marriage nearly two decades ago. From the very beginning of the establishment of JVF-Nepal, she has been actively involved in plans, programmes and projects along with her husband Durlabh Magar from New York, USA.

Her latest initiative is dedicating her music album and its profits to establish fund for continuous operation of Community Health Centre being operated by JVF in Jhumlawang. The entire amount generated from the sale of the CD, CRBT/PRBT will be collected in the JVF fund for Health Centre. “Everyone is doing whatever they can from every corner of the world for the development of our village,” she said, “It’s very inspiring.” She says she is doing her duty towards the community as well through her words and music, just like other members of the community, partners and supporters.

The album, ‘Nazar’ was formally inaugurated by honourable Chancellor of Nepal Music and Drama Academy, Musician Amber Gurung in Kathmandu dated on June 22, 2013. It has total of seven songs. Musician Rajesh Thapa is the music composer while vocals are given by Nepal’s famous singers: Rajesh Payal Rai, Rima Gurung, Anju Panta, Sworup Raj Acharya, Deepak Limbu, Udaya Sotang and Sangeeta Rana. Songs like ‘Gunaso chha aaphai sanga…’, ‘Timro muhar…’, ‘Nazar bata tadha…’, ‘Mero sansar timi nai hau…’ have been receiving very positive response from audience.

JVF family would like to thank all the supporting hands involved to bring out the music album in the market. We acknowledge the efforts made by musician Rajesh Thapa who also took the responsibility of recordings and managements, singers, technical assistants, cover designer, Landmark Architects and Nistha Music Pvt. Ltd. We cannot forget Mr. Tibbat Darlami for his constant concerns and suggestions during the production of this album.

Jhumlawang Community Health Centre, one of the major projects of JVF-Nepal was open for basic health facilities as soon as building’s main section was completed in October 2012. In 2010, the health centre project began after community felt the urgent need of hospital nearby as they had to walk for days to reach hospitals even for minor treatment.

JVF’s target is to gradually upgrade infrastructures of health post and establish 15 bed hospital in 10 years. For now, it is open for basic health facilities to Jhumlawang villagers and people from neighbouring villages which make of about 25,000 in population.

Hoping for a Horizon: Stories of loss and survival.

Smita Magar,
Jhumlawang, 24th January 2013

“I hope nurses and doctors will come soon,” Nar Bahadur Sunar says with a wistful smile, “Then no one will have to go through the nightmare my wife and I had to.” His hopes are high after the Community Health Center in the village formally kicked off with the basic health services from October.

Six years back, Nar Bahadur’s 41 year-old wife Bhim Kumari had a miscarriage which nearly took her life. It was her fourth miscarriage. This miscarriage left her critically ill for more than a year. The frequent miscarriage Bhim Kumari suffered was due to the lack of care and regular check-ups. Such luxuries, in terms of the safety of mother and unborn child during pregnancy, were out of question as there were no hospitals nearby.

She was four months pregnant when she lost her child, again. She was suffering from heavy blood loss and an unimaginable pain that left her unconscious for days. Nar Bahadur carried her on his back for two days to reach the hospital in district headquarter Khalanga for treatment. “On the way I would anxiously wait for her to groan,” he says, “heart breaking as it was to hear but it conformed she was alive.”

When they reached the district hospital at Khalanga, Bhim Kumari was almost non-responsive. The medicine needed for her treatment was not available at the hospital so they had to wait for one more day to get the medicine from Kathmandu on a helicopter. After few days she was referred to Mahendra hospital in Dang. Five more days of walk took them to the hospital and she stayed there for a month to recover.

Now, a healthy woman, Bhim Kumari is using contraceptives and is mother of 3 children. Nar Bahadur says he is still unable to pay back the loan he took for hospital charges. “Seems like this loan will extend to our children,” he says with a frown across his forehead. But in a second his frown changes into a broad smile as he looks at his wife and pronounces, “But, she is alive!”

Not everyone is lucky. The lack of health center or a hospital nearby has left many lives bereft and grief-stricken in the village. Almost every delivery takes place at home, alone, without skilled birth attendants, risking the lives of both mother and newborn child. Poverty, lack of awareness, early marriage and early motherhood leads to the complications. Preventive reproductive health issues become a challenge while many lives are lost due to lack of proper care and timely diagnosis.

The pain of losing a wife and an infant of Til Bahadur hit Kamara Shrestha in 2009 when his wife died because of childbirth complications. She already had suffered from two complicated deliveries and newly born children had died soon after birth. “Compared to other women Dhokashari had weak health and each child birth left her weaker and sicker,” Kamara says.

So, when Dhokashari, 28, got pregnant again Kamara wanted to go for a check-up. But, they were building a house and days were comparatively busier. “She didn’t want to go for check-ups,” he says, “She used to say that the hospital was too far.”

During delivery, traditional midwives were called but they were not able to help. The infant had died in the womb and there was excessive bleeding. After struggling for two long days Dhokashari was barely conscious. With her health further deteriorating, in the middle of the night, Kamara carried her in a basket to take her to district hospital Salle. She breathed her last breath at Chhing; a place far from home, a place far from the hospital.

“Every day I pray that even my enemy should not have to go through such pain,” Kamara says. And, with a health post in a village, he is happy his prayer is in a process of being answered. “I am very happy. Now, our women will be able to go for regular check-ups and get long-needed help in time,” he adds with a smile.

Kamara’s hopes and smile touches Til Bahadur’s who believes the new generation will not have to suffer the way they had to with the hospital in the village. “Now, we are just in need for good doctors and nurses,” he smiles, “I hope they will come soon.”

Year 2012: Not the End, But A New Beginning!

Smita Magar,
Jhumlawang, 1st January 2013

While other side of the world was worried about the supposed ‘end of the world’, people of Jhumlawang were rejoicing. For them, the year of 2012 had brought a fruit of their hard work, cooperation and togetherness: the Community Health Centre opened to provide basic health facilities.

One of the major projects of the Jhumlawang Village Foundation (JVF-NEPAL), the Community Health Centre, formally began to provide basic health services from October 29. Once it comes into full operation, the centre will be providing its services not only to people from Jhumlawang but also to more than 25,000 people from neighbouring villages who have been suffering from basic health issues: chicken pox, stomach upset, cholera, fever, diarrhoea, flu, cuts and burns. It will be a relief for children and women who are more prone to basic health issues and infections.

“For years we had been dreaming for a health centre at the door,” Raj Bahadur Gurung, JVF Field Co-ordinator expresses his delight, “Now, we don’t have to travel days to have a basic treatment.” He informed that one full time Community Medical Assistant (Shiva Kumar Magar) and a Pharmacist (Parbati Gurung) are always in the health centre to provide services for needy ones. Two part time staffs (Rekha Maya Magar & Sita Magar) are also there to provide their assistance.

After nearly two years of ground preparation, the construction work of the project had started on 25th November 2010. For now, main completed section of a building is put in operation for basic health facilities while the construction work of other sections will continue.

“Much is yet to be done,” says Kush Buddha, an International Coordinator for JVF-Nepal, “Our plan is to run health camps with volunteer doctors, nurses, midwife and other medical experts in very near future.” Buddha added that the main goal is to gradually upgrade infrastructures and establish 15 Bed Hospital within 10 years of time.

Appreciating all the efforts and helping hands from individual to community to organizations from around the world Buddha says while there is a long way to go, the opening of the health centre for basic health facilities is a milestone. A milestone for further development of not only health centre but also other projects that are underway in the village. “The combined effort and belief towards our goal has brought this positive outcome,” he said, “We are thankful to everyone who have supported us throughout our journey and hope the goodwill relationship we share continues.”

The concrete journey for the health centre had started when Veronique Chenat from Association Humanitaire Partage et Soins, France organized two health camps in 2008 & 2009 in the village. The dream of having health services closer to the home brought the community together in working towards the idea of building the health post in the village. The members of community donated plots of land in their loved ones memories while making a commitment to do the work of at least 25 % of total budget. On the way, individuals, groups and organizations lent their supports in realizing this dream.

The plots of land for the project were donated by two villagers: Mr Gaj Bahadur Gurung and Mrs Thum Kumari Budha in memory of their sons whom they lost in separate accidents.

The estimated budget for the project is €65,000. The “Association Humanitaire Partage et Soins” generously has committed itself to contribute €58,000. Diaspora members are contributing not only with their expertise but also by giving about 5% of their earnings and by co-coordinating fundraising events around the world for this project of JVF-NEPAL as well as for upcoming ones. Apart from partner Partage et Soins and community contribution there are other individuals who have raised money for medical equipment and medicine.

Dr Heli Vaterlaws and Lorry Williams organized fund raising event and raised £406.50. Similarly- Swansea University staff raised £218.65 during St David’s Day & Gareth Ayres raised £325.20 participating London Marathon in 2012.

As the first and one of the major projects under Jhumlawang Village Foundation (JVF-NEPAL), the opening of the Community Health Centre for basic health centre is much awaited fruit of everyone associated with the project. With this encouraging news in mind, JVF-Nepal will be working harder in mobilizing community, Diaspora members, and getting supports from like-minded people and organizations to work on sustainable development of the village.

Remembering Roots- Connection of Hopes and Dreams!

Chennai, India, Oct 27, 2011:  “Wishes alone can’t fulfill our desires; I have realized that much,” Dilsara Setimore, 76, let out heavy sigh and continued, “I don’t have money to return home.”

On a rainy day of 1973, Dilsara had carried her 2 year old son Sundarlal on one arm and small bundle of clothes on other and had left Jhumlawang for Bijaura/Vijayawada. Her cousin brothers had been working in South Indian town Vijayawada for many years. So, when she came to the city, she had stayed with her brothers until she was able to be on her own working as a house helper.

Soon, it’s going to be 4 decades since she saw Jhumlawang for the last time. But, she says time has not made any difference in her memories. “I remember everything,” she said, “Life was tough there but I miss it.” Referring to curse-phrase ‘yek paile bhayes’ (may your footprint never return back) she added, “It seems, I have become the cursed one.”

“I guess, like my brothers I will also die here,” eyes brimming with tears her voice cracked, “Narpati bhai died here, then Dhanpati dai.in this foreign land all of them took their last breath.”

Dilsara- VIJAYAWADA-2011

Her son Sundarlal (Lal Bahadur Setimore) looked at her nostalgic expression and sadly smiled, “Whenever somebody from village visits her, she is becomes emotional like this.” He says he has no memory of village but feels connected through his mother’s constant mentioning of it.

Among the 150 people in Bijayawada who are originally from Jhumlawang Sundarlal’s family is among the very few families who are considered economically stable. “We are surviving, for now” he said, “But, I can’t afford to fall sick. If it happens then surviving will be a very difficult thing to do.” He owns a shop and sometimes does extra job as security guard. He is not learned man but his son Bharat Kumar and daughter Pujita are studying in college.

Almost all of the Jhumlawange in Bijayawada are working as security guard. Some of them are doing double duty to earn bread for their family. However, they are not compromising in their children’s education. “No matter how difficult it gets, we are not compromising with their education,” said Nim Bahadur Sunar (son of Aashbir Sunar ‘Aashe’). His children (two daughters and a son) are studying in school. Like Sundarlal, he also has no memory of village as he was born and brought up in Bijayawada. But, he has the images of village from stories his parents told him. He also knows that he has some ancestral land in Jhumlawang so after he retires he wants to go back there and make a living. “My children want to go and visit right now but I need to save money, make plans and go ahead,” he said, “It’s going to take time but I see myself in the village where my parents came from.”

Kamal Ramjali, whose great grandparents had come to the city in search of work and had stayed here, have been making plans to visit Jhumlawang. “Within few years I will visit my ancestral home,” he says, “I feel like it is calling me.”

These lingering memories, nostalgic feelings and connection to their ancestor land are shared by generations of Jhumlawange who have been here for more than half a century. They dream of going back home and living on their ancestors land. That dream, to some extend may sound too much of a romanticized to be true as they have settled their life here to some level. May be because they are aware of it that they are always enthusiastic about knowing what is happening in the village.

JV DIASPORA MEMBERS IN  VIJAYAWADA, INDIA

“It’s one way of connecting ourselves to our ancestor land and relatives,” Bharat K. Setimore said, “We feel connected to our root.” It’s with this desire of knowing more about the village and if possible to be able to help in village’s projects he was interested in the establishment of JVF-Nepal’s Vijayawada Committee, Andhra Pradesh, India. He is holding the position of General Secretary in the branch committee that was formed in September.

A 16-member JVF-Bijayawada committee was formed with the purpose of ‘keeping-in-touch’ with relatives back home. While it will be difficult to help monetarily for JVF-Nepal’s different projects in village they are trying their best to be of some help in making village ‘a role model’.

“Our best wishes are always there,” Nar Bahadur Ramjali (Narlal), President of JVF-Bijayawada said, “Apart from wishes, we are also trying to collect some fund for building ‘sajha-ghar’/Cultural Center.” He has been in Bijayawada for more than 20 years but has visited home twice in between

“We are extremely happy about all the development aspects happening in the village,” Narlal added, “It feels even better to be able to participate in village development this way.” He said through the committee they will be keeping in touch with whole Jhumlawange around the world and try to take part in development work of village projects.


Smita Magar
www.smitamagar.com