Saturday, December 27, 2008


I don't know where to begin.

This is the first time I've had access to Internet in two weeks. First shower. First ride in a vehicle. First sight of pavement. It's the first time in weeks where I've had water without adding chlorine. Last night I slept on my first mattress since Kathmandu.

I've been in Jajarkot District in Western Nepal. First to facilitate a report writing training to our health staff based in the district's cozy, remote headquarters. Next to document a journey – to follow two women who suffer from severe uterine prolapse from their village in Nepal to a teaching hospital in a city three days away. Then to witness their hospital stay, to be with them while they get surgery to remove their uterus.

22 women are taking the same journey this week, facilitated by IRC's health program. Over the next several months, IRC plans to support over 250 more women from remote villages to get this surgery.

The stories involved in this trip are more than I can begin to recount now. I've filled 2 notebooks in a week and a half. Here is one anecdote from yesterday, as our bus reaches the city:

Mandari, one of the two women I'm following, points out the window, asks me "What is that?"
That is a bike, I say. I explain that usually one person rides on it, but sometimes two can. Unlike the bus we are on, humans power it.

She nods. Her expression is the same as the day before, when she saw her first car – eyes wide, a faint smile on her face. No words. Just nods.

It may be my first time seeing cars, pavement, bikes, in weeks. But for these women, it's the first time in their lives.

Witnessing this is incredible and difficult to summarize in ten minutes. More to come in time.

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