Worldwide Healing Hands returned to Ilam, Nepal in 2013 to care for the many women left behind in this remote area from our 2012 mission there.
Namita, a 49 year old mother of 6 children, suffered from severe prolapse of her uterus and bladder causing her to be in constant pain. Despite this, her typical day consisted of working for 18 hours, the majority of it doing heavy lifting. She heard that our team was coming to care for women on the radio and traveled about 100 miles by bus and on foot hoping that we could lessen her pain.
On examination, it was evident that she had this condition for many years and she never dreamt that anything could be done to help her. Our gynecologic team performed a hysterectomy with repair of the pelvic floor with an excellent outcome.
On evening rounds we noted that she had not been taking any pain medication after having undergone a major surgery just 10 hours earlier. We questioned this and the nurse translated for Namita saying,” I have been suffering for over 20 years and you have saved me from this [future] pain. I am so grateful to all of you for what you have done and I do not wish to complain.”
Namita’s response bespeaks the common condition for the women of Nepal. For like Namita, their suffering is a way of life. No gynecologist had been in this remote area of Nepal for a year, not since our last mission in 2012. The women expect so little and appreciate everything that they receive.
On behalf of Namita and many other grateful patients, we express our gratitude for your generosity. WHH would like to extend a special thank you to Chuck and Anne McMinn for hosting our fundraiser at Vineyard 29 as well as to all the generous donors who made this a success.
Our team of ten healthcare volunteers worked side by side with Nepali medical professionals to provide free medical care for close to one thousand women, including performing major gynecologic surgeries, delivering babies and performing numerous ultrasounds. We also introduced a cervical cancer prevention program to the region.
Worldwide Healing Hands achieved our goal of sustainability as we trained 18 midwives and mentored local physicians. Dr. Asha Jha, OB/GYN and Dr. Chunmila Maharjan, OB/GYN wrote “we are very grateful to work with you in surgery and learned lots of new techniques. You gave us a chance to do surgery independently which is a great achievement.” (A copy of our Nepal 2013 Mission Report is available upon request.)
Looking forward, WHH is planning a medical mission to Sierra Leone in 2014 where we will partner with a well-established local organization. Prior to the 11-year civil war (1991-2002) that left over 50,000 dead, the nation had 500-600 doctors – now there are less than 100; and in a country of approximately six million people there is only one OB/GYN physician severely limiting access to care.
Sierra Leone is one of the most dangerous places on earth to give birth. Estimates for infant mortality in Sierra Leone are among the highest in the world; and the maternal death rates are also among the highest in the world. In this tiny West African nation, a shocking one out of seven women dies during childbirth. If a woman lives in a rural area, she may not have the emergency transportation she needs to seek medical care from a midwife or hospital – and if she is lucky enough to get to medical care, she may not have the $3.50 she needs to pay for her medicine and treatment. “Thousands of women bleed to death after giving birth. Most die in their homes. Some die on the way to hospital; in taxis, on motorbikes or on foot. In Sierra Leone, less than half of deliveries are attended by a skilled birth attendant [midwife] and less than one in five are carried out in health facilities.” – Amnesty International
Charitable donations have enabled WHH to change the lives of countless women. We hope this letter has touched you to reach out to help save the lives of the mothers and their babies in Sierra Leone. Your support of $150 will help pay for a major surgery for a woman, $250 will pay for the equipment a midwife needs and $400 will support the training of one midwife who can save numerous lives.
Each tax-deductible donation is a valued gift and means a great deal to women living with and in these terrible conditions. Thank you for supporting Worldwide Healing Hands in its missions to assist the women in the most under-served areas of the world.
Paula R. Dhanda, MD
Founder and Medical Director