We were in Kathmandu, nearly ready to start our journey to Achham.
This time the team that travelled from Kathmandu was composed by Rupa: Project Manager; Simran: student of International Cooperation in training; Sharmila: community health, although she came as translator; Rita: journalist, who joined the project to take pictures in person of what is happening there and thus round up a story on the work we do; Clara: Managing Director of the Project; and Bea: menstrual therapist.
On arrival to Mangalsen the girls were waiting for us: Tejana and Manisha as Project Coordinators, Hiunkala and Rohina as trainers, and Tulsi, Manisha, Kamala, Rabina and Janaki as mentors.
The first point in the agenda was arriving to Mangalsen and prepare the trainers and the mentors on how would the follow-up take place. It was important that all of them knew what was expected from them.
As always, getting to Mangalsen was a real adventure, a mixture of buses and jeeps, interspersed with stops for tea and snacks to survive the 2 days journey (we have shortened it by one day!!).
In a single day we explained the whole team how to do the follow up, the routines, times and materials, and divided ourselves into groups to cover the 12 villages we had to visit. In each team there were girls for whom this wasn’t the first time they we are doing a follow up, and they knew the annual routine.
We were 3 teams, each of which, as first task, visited a village in the Sanphebagar municipality (Patalkot, Sirkot y Kalsen), and then we would have to visit the three villages in each of the other municipalities: Turmakhand, Dhakari and Mangalsen.
We split up and started with the follow up. We spent 3 nights in each village and during that time we had to find all the women in the village and all the girls from school who were using the menstrual cup, undertake the follow up, and the day before leaving show everybody in the village the film from Mira Rai.
Luckily, we had divided the tasks within the group, so we worked together as efficiently as possible, something that, in Nepal, sometimes seems quite impossible!
We noticed immediately that locating all the women was very difficult, most of them were out in the fields, working, and they had no time to come to the school to do the follow up. So, as the saying goes, “If Muhammad will not come to the mountain, then the mountain must go to Muhammad”: we swept the whole village and surroundings looking for women, knocking on all doors, asking the people we found in the roads…
After this first village, we all met in Sanphebagar, to comment about the visit, discuss the problems we may have had, and any arising queries. We had lunch together and shared our first impressions. Rupa’s health had been quite poor during those first days and seeing that she wasn’t improving, we decided that it was better if she went back to Kathmandu with Rita by plane from Dhangadhi.
In the three villages things had only gone so-so, which made us think that somebody had been disrupting the work, and we had our suspicions on whom this was (and more than just suspicions…).
During the following days, our 3 groups visited the 9 remaining villages: Jupu, Banatoli and Mangalsen, three from the Mangalsen municipality; Dhamali, Toshi and Raniban, from the municipality of Turmakhad; and Hichma, Dhungachalna and Dhakari from the municipality of Dhakari.
We did not find all the users, so it was clear that the job was not finished, and we decided that the trainers would continue at the beginning of December. We needed to know if each user of the cup had been using it, if they were happy with it, if they needed anything, if thanks to the use of the cups and the workshops we did in May their relationship with the menstruation had improved, and if anything had changed in how they live their period days; and the most important thing, are they still subject to the Chhaupadi?
All this information is crucial for the continuation of the project. We finished with the last village on the 15th of November, brought all the remaining material to Mangalsen and got ready to go back to Kathmandu.
The Achham girls will undergo a further training of the menstrual cup in February, and the team will return in May from Kathmandu for the 2020 Project.
We continue working, with all our heart and enthusiasm put in the project. Thank you for supporting it!
Text & photos© by Bea San Román - Traslation by Tere Salinero
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