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Living Proof: Nepal – Community Health Workers Saving Lives
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Living Proof: Nepal – Community Health Workers Saving Lives
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ViewChange: The Mothers Index
Nepal's mother and child mortality rates are among the highest in the world, but now women are training each other as community health volunteers to save lives in their villages.
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Produced by Living Proof. For more information, go to ONE.org/livingproof.
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Segment 1

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Part 2: The Volunteers
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Challenge: Nepal's rates of maternal and child mortality are among the highest in the world.
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Solution: Train women to counsel mothers in their villages before, during, and after birth.
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Can these empowered women save their children's lives? And their own?
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Across Nepal, people work very hard for very little, and none work harder than lower-caste women.
SARU
My name is Saru and I'm a female community health volunteer. I wake up at four every morning to feed the cattle and begin chores. I have to look after my kids -- one son and three daughters -- because I can't afford to send them to school.
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Several years ago, Saru lost an infant. Her husband left soon after.
SARU
I cannot describe the pain I felt when I lost my son. The pain is unbearable. He simply died of diarrhea without us knowing that we should've given him water. And we didn't have the money to take him to the hospital. He was crying for water when he died.
DAVID OOT [Save the Children]
You've got very high under-five mortality rates still in Nepal, and particularly for older women. So the average age of a female community health volunteer is about 40 years. So virtually all of them will have experienced a death, oftentimes at home. So I think there is an appreciation and a special connection to others in their community who are at risk.
SARU
So I thought, "I've lost my son. I should do something so that my fellow villagers don't go through a trauma like that." So I decided to become a volunteer.
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New volunteers are trained at a class in Western Nepal.
DAVID OOT
The female community health volunteers have played an important role in reducing under-five mortality by increasing the use of life-saving immunization services, treatment of pneumonia in children under five, and they have been at the forefront of providing information and, to some extent, services for family planning over the past 20 years, as well as increasing access to and use of skilled birth attendants at the time of delivery.
DALLU
My name is Dallu. I became a volunteer to help women and children in the village. I think serving others is a big part of my religion. I always tell women to go to the hospital for delivery. But there are many who ignore this advice and deliver at home.
DAVID OOT
The female community health volunteers have become an important source of information about clean home delivery practices.
DALLU
We tell them that traditional midwives don't know about hygiene. They don't sterilize equipment. And we urge the women to at least buy a clean home delivery kit.
DAVID OOT
This program has served as a vehicle for elevating the status of these women, creating a sense of appreciation on the part of others in their community for what they do, bringing recognition to them, from both within their community but [also] from within the health system, and, in so doing, really creating a sense of empowerment on the part of these women.
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Living Proof: Real Lives. Real Progress.
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With support and guidance from global partners, Nepal is likely to reduce under-five child deaths by two-thirds by 2015, and the 45,000 female volunteers will deserve much of the credit
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Living Proof: Real Lives. Real Progress. www.one.org/livingproof