From Intention to Action

From Intention to Action

Following through on a $50 impulse

By Jeffrey Kottler

November/December 2008

I first went to Nepal seven years ago. After taking four planes, a bus, a truck, and an hour's walk, I found myself in a remote village in the Chitwan District, near the Indian border. I'd gone there to do research on maternal mortality with Kiran Regmi, then a Nepali doctoral student of mine, who worked as an obstetrician in rural districts near the Indian border. She's one of the few female physicians in her country, and one of the few doctors who practice outside of Kathmandu, Nepal's capital.

As part of our research, we were interviewing new mothers about their childbirth experiences, trying to figure out why women didn't seek medical service even when it was available (90 percent of the population has no access to professional healthcare), and why Nepal has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. We soon learned that part of the reason was the frightening and humiliating experiences the lower-caste women we interviewed had endured at the medical facilities, which they'd often journeyed several days to reach. They told us that "snakes" had been put in their arms—intravenous tubes that were never explained—and the doctors, all men, shamed them by touching their private parts. They declared that they'd rather die than face such an ordeal again. They warned other women of the village never to go to those bad places, where they'd been treated like animals.

We learned that other women having difficult pregnancies who desperately wanted to seek…

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Topic: Trauma

Tags: trauma treatment

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