Shanta Bahadur is a 73-year-old man from a community of Chepang* people in the district of Makwanpur. Extremely weak and barely conscious, he was carried on a stretcher to the small health clinic a half-hour’s walk away. He had suffered from diarrhea for three days and had been unable to eat, drink or move on his own.
The staff immediately hooked Shanta up to an IV. “After about four hours, he started to improve,” the clinic in-charge said. “He asked for something to eat, and we gave him jaulo (rice porridge) and black tea. We checked his vitals and they were better than before.”
The next day Shanta Bahadur was discharged. He was able to walk home on his own, taking plenty of oral rehydration packets with him. Thanks to the subsidy Shanti Nepal provides for poor patients, his bill was minimal. He was a happy man.
Furthermore, he was no longer afraid of the clinic. The people there cared for him. Next time he feels sick, he will have the courage to walk to them right away for help.
*The Chepang are an ethnic minority group known to be one of the poorest in Nepal. Historically a forest-dwelling people, they increasingly rely upon subsistence agriculture, but struggle due to the lack of arable land. The remoteness of Chepang communities and their distrust of outsiders contributes to health problems and low literacy levels. DDHCFN partner Shanti Nepal has been serving among the Chepang people in Makwanpur and Dhading for many years, slowly gaining their trust.