Women for Women

Women for Women Spring Camp 2017 / Vrouwen voor Vrouwen voorjaars kamp 2017

 

The foundation Women for Women www.vrouwenvoorvrouwen.nl is a volunteer organization that sets up health projects for women in Nepal. These projects are of a medical nature and are aimed at prolapsing of the pelvic organs, such as the uterus. They focus on improving Nepalese knowledge and expertise. The ultimate goal is that the Nepalese can address this problem independently. Throughout gyno camps, women in remote areas are explained about causes, consequences and treatment of prolapsing of the uterus. In addition, there is a broad focus on transferring knowledge to local care providers, nurses and doctors. A gyno camp is organized twice a year, consisting of Dutch volunteers.

SPYN sponsors the Women for Women Foundation. SPYN’s policy points include education and healthcare, which can be found within the Women for Women foundation as well.

Below is an impression of a gyno camp (spring camp 2017).

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We went to Nepal witha group of 5 women, consisting of 3 doctors and 2 nurses (including me). Packed with gloves and disinfectant we went on our way. Upon arriving in Kathmandu we were welcomed by the Nepalese Coordinator of Women for Women, Bishwa. He had arranged everything, the items needed for a gyno camp were ready to take with us. The next day we got out of bed early. Our team had now doubled adding 4 Nepalese nurses in training, a Nepalese gynecologist and a Nepalese gynecologist in training. After a 10 hour drive we arrived in Kusma, the capital of the Parbat district, west of Pokhara. For Nepalese terms we had a very good place for the next few days, aisdefrom a single cockroach also staying in our room.

Our first gyno camp was scheduled in the Tilhar school on a Tuesday. On arrival, a lot of ladies were waiting for us. In no time, the premises were transformed into research rooms with research banks (schooltables turned against each other). After the reception ceremony (one of many as we would find out during the next couple of days) we could get to work. In addition to the symptoms associated with prolapsing uterus, there were women with other symptoms as well, like: pain in the back due to hard work on the country, menstrual pain, vaginal discharge and childlessness. We have also seen women experiencing complications after multiple abortions. Being pregnant of a daughter can be a reason for abortion. Having a son is very important in Nepal. Most men marry a 2nd wife when their 1st wife gives labour to a girl.

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On Wednesday we arrived in Dairing after a very tough ride through the mountains. The men from Dairing mostly live and work abroad. The young women indicated they want 1 or 2 children, and no more. When asked what kind of contraception they use they told us that they think that the use of contraception isn’t necessary, as their husbands aren’t home for most of the time. At every healthpost, contraception is free. The pill, interjectable contraception, the hormone rod, the copper spiral and condoms.

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On Thursday we visited Arther and on Friday we went to a beautiful health post sponsored by a Rotary club from Germany. The property was almost empty, as Nepalese residents have no money to purchase inventory. Every nurse in training was assisting a doctor and learned to conduct research, and gave the women instruction about  the muscular exercises for the pelvic. After each medical examination, women were sent to an information gathering about the occurrence of prolapsing etc. This information is a permanent part of each gyno camp.

In the early morning on friday, we visited a school and explained the female students (aged 16 years and older) what a prelapsing uterus is, and how it can be prevented and treated. After that, we went to the next gyno camp.

At the end of each day, the data about the women who were examined was processed into the computer. This data is used for evaluation and research. In the event of a follow-up camp, the details of each woman can be found.

Saturday is a national day off. Bishwa, the Nepalese coordinator, showed us the hot spring in Myagdi, part of a Hindu temple. We saw a sulfur bath which is known for having healing power. We saw people in wheelchairs going to the Sulfur bath hoping for healing. There are special visiting hours for men and women.

Special "swimming suits" had to be purchased to enter the water. In the middle of the sulfur bath it was very hot, 45 degrees. From the bath you have to go to the river to rinse yourself. The latter we skipped, the rest of the day we had a sulfur air around us.

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VvV5The 2nd week we slept on a farm attic for 2 nights. The village was never visited by Women for Women before. Fortunately, the turn out was high. As a team, we were fully engaged and we managed to talk, investigate, treat and advise almost 200 women .The female health volunteers, female volunteers, had been visiting villages in the surrounding aresa weeks before our arrivalto tell the local women about our visit and the dangers of prelapsing uterus. The men were also told by Bishwa to support their wives and sisters etc. so the men would give their wives permission to visit the gyno camp. It is still a male-dominant society as Snikdha, the Nepalese gynecologist, explained to us. During the camp there also were women who told us that their husband didn’t know they were visiting us, as they didn’t get their permission.

On Friday after nine gyno camps and having seen 1145 women we drove off at 6 o'clock in the morning and had breakfast  in Pokhara with a beautiful view of the Dhaulagiri, the 5th highest mountain in the world. Over the past few days we had rain and cloudy weather, so we couldn’t really enjoy the views. At the end of the day we returned to Kathmandu. During the gyno camp days we usually ate bhat, which is rice with lentil soup and cauliflower in a curry sauce, twice a day. We looked forward to a more varied meal.

Saturday morning we visited Boudhanath and the Kopan monastery, all very impressive. After that we went to the airport and made our way to the Netherlands.
I’m glad to have experienced such a special journey and really enjoyed the Nepalese culture, the nice people and the cooperation with our team. It was truly heartwarming.

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Hermien Peeters, secretary SPYN

 

 

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The Nepal experience - Women for Women - Fall 2011

SPYN Foundation is sponsoring multiple project implementing organizations. One of these is the Dutch foundation Women for Women (www.vrouwenvoorvrouwen.nl). This foundation has successfully implemented over the years several projects in Nepal. These projects focus on the screening and the treatment of women who suffer from subsidence of the pelvic organs.

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Under the guidance of Women for Women, the female implementers, all volunteers, are training Nepali medical doctors, nurses and mid-wifes in skills to promote research and awareness on this subject. The foundation Women for Women is working closely with Nepalese organisations and Nepalese hospitals to reach their goals. Women for Women also provide scholar ships to young girls so that they can start an education to become a nurse or an obstetrician. The secretary of the board of the Spyn Foundation, trained as a Medical Nurse, joined the Dutch foundation Women for Women on one of their bi yearly trios to Nepal in 2011. Below you will find a report of this striking journey with them.

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Flying over the Himalaya and seeing the Nepalese landscape from the sky was a very special view and an unforgettable experience. When we arrived in the capital, Kathmandu, I was overwhelmed by the noise, the smell, the dirt, the animals in the street such as cows and monkeys, the many cars and motorcycles, but also by all the colourful people. Before we could commence with our work and the setting up of medical camps, we needed to open up all the boxes and sort out the medical devices, instruments and medicines shipped to Nepal prior to arrival or bought on the local market.

Before leaving the capital, Kathmandu, a kick off meeting was held with Nepali medical workers. These medical workers joined us for the trip to Sunsari, which is one of the districts we had planned to visit, for medical treatment of Nepalese women living in remote area’s, outside the city and deprived from medical care. During the medial Camps, The Nepalese health workers would also receive education. We took a small plane to the district and proceeded our journey, using ocal public transport, a rattling bus. We spend the night in a moderate hotels, guesthouses and also were invited to stay in people’s home. Goats and chickens were everywhere. The next day it could happen that that goat or chicken was for dinner. In order to have adequate capacity to see and treat all the patinets scheduled we needed to create, in the health post we used four separated “rooms”” (each of them requiring an improvised bed, where patients could be received, interviewed and if needed treated. We used rope, sheets, towels, tables and in some cases a desk to realize four paces to work.

The women or patients had already been pre alerted by the local district health post that the Medical team of the Women for Women foundation was coming. For some women it was the first time they visited the medical camp, others had been there before. Many women who visited the gynaecological-camp (gynocamp)had walked for five hours or more. Remarkable was that every time the health workers made contact with the women who visited the gyncocamp, the Nepalese health workers were enthusiastic and motivated to help the patients with the best care possible.

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The women that visited the camp for the first time and had signed up for research were investigated by the Nepalese health workers. During the initial check in also a photo picture was taken, since most of them do not know their age, nor are they literate, so they cannot spell their name correctly. To ensure a minimum registration system is maintained the team created a counsellor role, as part of the interview and registration process. The counsellor explained the Nepali women, by using coloured cards which had drawings of the uterus and ovaries, how to prevent a uterine prolapse and how to recognise the complaints.

 

 

As a rule Women for Women do visit the same village and/or health post three times, when training the Nepalese staff. The health workers of the health post are expected to meet with the local women and learn them how to change and clean the pessarium. At the end of the third visit by the Women to Women foundation an exam will be taken for the local health workers. The ones who pass will receive a certificate that is acknowledged by the government health system.

The women who have a total uterine prolapse (bowel, bladder, and vaginal are saggy) are to receive surgery. The next day those women were transported by a local bus, accompanied by a member of their family, to the nearest hospital. In that hospital one of the Dutch gynaecologist, assisted by the Nepalese medical staff, performed the surgery. During the surgeries performed, the experienced gynaecologist of the Dutch Women for Women team, trained the Nepali gynaecologists how to treat a total uterine prolapse. The cost of these surgeries were paid for by the Women for Women foundation.

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During our 10 days stay in Nepal, we had to wake up early to prepare the work to be performed each day in the health post. There was limited space, we were assigned a room in a rural hospital. In one room a woman was giving birth to a healthy baby while in the hallway another woman was dying. The circumstances we were doing our work, cannot be compared with the circumstances we see in Europe. During the medical camp, in one week 1086 women examined. The days were long and intense, the team spirit was amazing. I would like to compliment everybody from the Women for Women Foundation for their expertise and great work they do, for their enthusiasm and commitment.

After a week of hard work we flew back to Kathmandu. In the capital we had the opportunity to store the boxes of medical supplies which were left over for the next Medical Camp, or for future use by the trained Nepalese staff. After our work was done, we had one day to explore Kathmandu and the surroundings. The following day we took jeeps and a little truck to explore the mountains. Most of the other health workers joined us on this trip.

As secretary of the SPYN Board it was useful to see how Women for Women perform their work and are dedicated to train the local staff, enabling them to take over the work over time. This trip was a great experience.


 

Hermien Peeters

Secretary SPYN