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Women Helping Women

February 27, 2017

They looked like bright red flowers dotted alongside the green mountainside. As they approached, I could see a group of women making their way along the narrow trail that leads to a small village in Nepal.  

Smiles wreathed their faces and they chattered loudly to each other as they walked. Our group looked up from the work we were doing, mopping sweat from our filthy faces with equally filthy hands to see where this noisy chattering bunch were headed. We were working on a brick building which would become a place where Nepali women like these would be able to come to deliver their babies with expert care and in safe conditions for both mum and baby. Our team included five members from a church in Indiana and three reach Beyond Missionaries. We were glad for the muscles and brawn of the men on the team. The work was strenuous and tough for we three women whose task was to haul the bricks from one place to another, soak them in water and then haul the sodden (heavy) bricks and stack them near to where the men were beginning to lay them.

I was surprised to see the group of approaching women stop right where we were. At first they watched what we were doing, seemingly with much interest. Then, they joined with us- forming a chain- and began to pass the bricks along it, from one pile to the water barrel and then on to be stacked alongside the rapidly- growing wall that was to be part of the birthing center.

They worked quickly, with smiles and laughter and continued their chatter, attempting to interact with us women through hand signals and smiles. My heart was warmed. This is how community development should work. Communities taking decisions about what they see are the big issues and problems in their communities and working together to improve life for themselves and their families. Groups like ours work alongside the community, doing with and not doing for.

The idea of a birthing center in this rural village came from the women in the community itself. The women in this village and the surrounding villages previously had no access to such a facility. Maternal and child mortality rates were high.  Many women died in childbirth or delivered small and sick babies who did not survive. They felt that with a properly equipped center, they could receive better prenatal care, regular controls and assistance giving birth in a safe, clean environment.  They knew that would lead to safer deliveries and healthier babies and mothers.

Our role as Reach Beyond Community health and development workers is to listen to the voices, fears and concerns of the people we serve (their felt needs) and find areas where we can come alongside and help, speak for our friends and partners and sometimes put boots on the ground to work shoulder to shoulder with them to effect change. Often women do not have a voice in their communities and their concerns are not heard.

I felt privileged to be part of this team from Reach Beyond and see this birthing center dream become a reality. It was a privilege to work alongside the beautiful women in this village in Nepal, to laugh with them, to eat with them and realize once again the thrill of partnership. Together, we can do far more than it would be possible for us to do alone. Women working together are far more effective than women working alone. Together we are better.




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