In the villages that speckle the rugged Nepal terrain, life is hard on mothers and their young children. With opportunities for financial advancement severely limited, families rely on self-sufficiency, grit and determination.
They build their own homes, grow their own food and often raise their own livestock.
But many young mothers suffer from a lack of health care knowledge and limited access to primary health services. In the mountainous landscape of Nepal, where paved roads are nonexistent, even local health facilities are not easily accessible. Malnutrition is high in these areas, resulting in 21 percent of children being underweight.
That was before the massive 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck, crumpling crumpling buildings, caving in roads and killing thousands throughout Nepal. Life afterward brought more uncertainty and hardship for mothers living in these elevated communities.
Kunwor had given birth before the earthquake shook the countryside, in April 2015. She lives in the Dhading District, near the epicenter, an area that sustained heavy damage and nearly a thousand casualties during the quake.
When her baby was born, Kunwor was so nervous. Would her baby be healthy? Many of the young children in her rural community suffer from persistent ailments rooted in malnutrition and disease. Kunwor didn’t feel as if she had the proper knowledge to take care of her baby, so it was with a heavy heart that she worried about Kunwor.
The village is incredibly remote, with no road access. The only way to reach the nearest city is to walk for two hours.
Life after the earthquake only became harder. Thousands were left homeless, living in tents or under tarps. In this post-quake environment, Medical Teams International began working in the Dhading District, providing education and care to mothers and children.
"I have learned how to carefully take care of my baby," Kunwor said.
Kunwor began attending training sessions and following instructions on how to care for her baby. She learned how to make a low-cost, highly nutritious porridge to feed her baby The little baby's health began to improve, as did the other children in the community. Because of this, Kunwor knew the training sessions were helping.
Inspired by what she'd learned, Kunwor vowed to be an agent of change in her village. She is now educating other mothers, teaching them what she has learned, while at the same time receiving further encouragement through Medical Teams' maternal and child health facilitators.