In the Jumla region, INF has facilitated nearly 200 self-help groups over a period of 15 years. As a result, communities have experienced long-term sustainable change. At the same time, INF staff members involved in community health and development work in Jumla have experienced change in themselves.
Jhol Bahadur Budha
Jhol Bahadur Buddha is an INF staff member who currently facilitates 10 of the self-help groups in the Jumla region. Before this role, he used to work in primary health care. “That was easy,” he said, “The patients would come to me and I would treat their tuberculosis or their decaying teeth, and then they would go home again. I liked it. And I didn’t want to do community health work. But then slowly, I began to enjoy it. I remember there was a time, ten years ago, when I was running a self-help group in Mugu. It was so poor and dry. The village had no drinking water. They had to go to other villages and sleep by the tap overnight, to get the water. And the people said to me, ‘Why did you come? We only want drinking water. And that is impossible in this village. Even the engineers can’t do it. Nobody can do it. If you can’t give us drinking water, then please don’t come.’ I wondered what to do, but then over time, we were able to help them get drinking water. We asked the men of the village to stay home and help for six months, instead of going to India for work. And they did. That year, everybody stayed home and helped and now there’s lots of water! The villagers can wash their clothes. There are a toilet and a kitchen garden. They learnt that if everyone helps, the change they want can happen. Something impossible became possible! And I learnt that change can happen in a whole community if everyone works together. That’s why I love my work now!”
Samjhana grew up in a small village on the other side of the river in the Jumla valley. She has now been working with INF, managing the community health and development work in Jumla for 14 years. “I love working with the groups,” she said. “Sometimes the women have never been out of their village. But then after we form a group, they tell me that they can see their own problems and work out what to do. Before, their problems were hidden. There was one lady some years ago who had leprosy – an ulcer on her foot. She didn’t know what it was. She’d never heard of leprosy. Then she showed me her foot because she trusted me and I helped her to get treatment. I learnt about God’s timing and I’m thankful for God’s timing. If INF hadn’t been there, she would still be unwell. And another lady was being beaten by her husband. She couldn’t tell anyone, she was too embarrassed. So in the group, we talked about human rights and then she realised it wasn’t right and she shared with me. The couple had counselling and now they’re okay, most of the time. Things slowly change, and I’ve seen that, and it’s wonderful to be a part of it.”
You can also read the article in our July edition of TiN.