Monday, 19 October 2015

Bye bye Kathmandu... until next time

By Joy Kemp, Global Professional Advisor for the Royal College of Midwives.

I'm on my way home from an amazing 10 days in Kathmandu.  Following a successful fundraising campaign by UK midwives, coordinated by the RCM, it was time to travel back to Nepal to meet our twinning partner, the Midwifery Society of Nepal (MIDSON) for the first time since the earthquakes in April and May and to see how things had changed and developed, as well as ensuring that our funds are being spent wisely.

I was wonderfully hosted by MIDSON at their office in Kupondole, and by Ashok and Katrin (with toddler son Aryan and dog Butterscotch) at the At Home Guesthouse in Jamshikhel.  Nepal has certainly had a difficult year - first the earthquakes and now political stalemate with its neighbour Inda with the border road blocked and no fuel getting through.  Kathmandu was much quieter (and less polluted) with fewer cars on the road, so I walked everywhere locally and had fun exploring the city on local tuk tuks, mini-buses and green buses rather than getting taxis which were almost impossible to find.  My large European frame is quite challenging for the small spaces available in such vehicles!

long queues for petrol all over the city - many drivers waiting for days just to get 5 litres of fuel

Squeezing into a local minibus.  I got a seat but many were standing and others on the roof and handing out of the doors!

There was also little cooking gas available so many restaurants were closed and others had a limited menu.  The tandoor ovens were fine so we had a lot of bread, naan and roti; delicious but something I try to avoid at home!  Thankfully the guest house was well-stocked and the Sun Indian Jazz Cafe (yes, really) just opposite made great lassis and chicken tikka masala. I also really enjoyed sampling Nepali home cooking at Kirans' house (MIDSON's president) where I learned how to make momos (Nepalese Dumplings) and also tried fried goats lung for the first time, an acquired taste!

Fried goat's lung, fresh coriander chutney, home made chicken momos
I was so encouraged by MIDSON's response to the earthquake, mobilising themselves within days, first in the Kathmandu valley reaching out to the local maternity hospital and to women and families in temporary camps and shelters, but later with funds from UNICEF, UNFPA and Direct Relief, providing midwifery skills, professional and personal care kits and reproductive health outreach to communities in some of most remote earthquake-affected areas.  The 's RCM's funds helped to provide the staff and capacity needed to make this response happen and we've just signed an agreement enabling MIDSON to reach 5 more districts with care and supplies, vital as winter will soon be here. I had a busy schedule of meetings, visits and field trips and am happy to report that at the end of the trip we have a firm plan for using the remainder of the funds raised and ideas for 2 new projects for submission to donors for external funding.

 I brought with me a suitcase full of knitted baby clothes from the Crafty Coffee group in my village and these will be distributed to families living at altitude in temporary shelters.  
A happy little girl modelling her new woolly hat and tank top!

I was especially glad to visit Nepal's chief nurse, Ishwori, who played a big role in the success of our Global Midwifery Twinning Project and has herself recently given birth to a beautiful baby boy.
Let's join in hoping that this baby grows up in a country moving forward after such a huge challenge, with trained and competent midwives available to every woman and her family.  Meanwhile' the RCM will continue to work with MIDSON to fulfill this dream.
Ishwori and her baby

Saturday, 10 October 2015

In Nepal again after the earthquakes

The RCM has been twinned with the Midwifery Society of Nepal (MIDSON) since 2012.   Between April 2012 and March 2015 we sent 23 of our midwife members as volunteers on 25 placements to Nepal through the Global MidwiferyTwinning Project. In addition, many of our members have visited Nepal and some have a long standing relationship with the country.  Therefore, when a 7.8 magnitude earthquake and more than 100 associated aftershocks struck Nepal in April 2015, killing more than 9000 people, our members were deeply concerned about the safety and wellbeing of their friends and colleagues in Nepal and asked the RCM to respond.

Having run a fundraising campaign from May - August 2015 we have been hugely encouraged by the response.   Your efforts have raised around £25,000 to help provide access to midwifery care for women and babies in Nepal  during the emergency, now and for the future.  We have been working with MIDSON to ensure that the monies raised are put to good use.

MIDSON rapidly responded to the earthquake, helping to relieve pressure on Kathmandu’s maternity hospitals and coordinating outreach to the worst affected urban and rural areas.  Partnering with other agencies such as UNFPA, UNCIEF and Direct Relief, they got supplies and midwifery expertise to where they were needed.  Our funds helped to make this happen and will go on supporting MIDSON’s capacity and activities in the months to come.  This is especially important as geologists predict a further earthquake in the future.

I am currently in Nepal (funded by the RCM, not by any monies you raised) conducting monitoring and evaluation of our inputs and helping in MIDSON’s forward planning.  Getting around is difficult as there is a tense political situation and associated fuel shortage.  However, I hope to see some of the fruits of MIDSON’s recent endeavours with my own eyes and also to meet with many of their local partners and funding agencies to scope out future work.  We will have a small workshop next week and I hope to blog again before I leave to give you a flavour of how your money is helping to make a difference here and to share some photos. 

Meanwhile, my suitcase has finally arrived, 24 hours after me.  It was a casualty of the fuel crisis as they didn't have sufficient fuel to take all the bags on the plane.  I’ve enjoyed a warm welcome from MIDSON and am so grateful that none of these wonderful, dedicated women lost their lives in the earthquakes. Work starts in earnest tomorrow afternoon.
A lovely welcome from the MIDSON executive yesterday who came to see me in the guesthouse

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