Nicole Farkhouh ( Uterine Prolapse Alliance)

Nicole Farkouh (Collective Campaign for Peace – COCAP): Nicole graduated from Smith College with a BA in Cultural Anthropology. She also has a Master of Education from the University of New Orleans. Nicole’s professional background is in education. She has worked as a teacher, administrator, and consultant, mainly with middle school students with special needs. She is also a certified community mediator and has studied a complementary model of mediation based on Non-Violent Communication. She has studied abroad in India, lived and taught in Mexico. At the time of her fellowship, she was studying for a Master of Public Policy degree at the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley. After her fellowship, Nicole wrote: "More than anything, this summer I received a new level of understanding /appreciation for the complexity involved in “development” and “human rights” work…. Particularly being a foreign body trying to work in a new culture."


24 Jun

I met with Sanjita the day I landed in Kathmadu, and was surprised how small she looked, even though she was almost full term. Despite being upper-middle class, having good access to food and medical care, Sanjita looked smaller than many pregnant friends at home do in their 7th month… Within a week she had delivered – a tiny girl weighing 2.9kg (or 4.6 lbs).

The tiniest of tots

I visited Sanjita and the baby just hours after coming home from the hospital. She was exhausted, and in great spirits overall – though vowing never again to give birth. Sanjita and her daughter lay on a thin futon-like pad on the floor and we passed a mountain of swaddling containing the tiny infant back and forth as we talked.

We wrestled our way through her birth story, struggling to develop a previously irrelevant vocabulary – placenta, induced, labor, dilate… I was surprised by the strength she exhibited and the mix of “modern” and “traditional” that punctuated her experience. At a routine checkup, Sanjita’s female doctor decided to induce her a week before the due date out of a concern for limited amniotic fluid.

Having had no preparatory birthing class she spent the next 16 hours blindly suffering through artificially strong contractions in an austere maternity ward attended only by the rotating nursing staff and curious groups of medical students doing their rounds. Her husband periodically came to check on her from the hospital waiting room, where he was doubtlessly wearing a track in the floor. When I inquired about why he wasn’t with her the whole time, Sanjita explained, “because he loves me too much, and seeing him struggle with my pain would make me weak.”

Just after the naming ceremony

In the middle of our exchange, Sanjita suddenly turned to me with a business proposition. “I know you are busy with your studies right now, but when you are finished, and I am able to work again, I would like to discuss starting a business with you. I think I can teach you what you need to know, and I think we could be very successful.” I smiled, replying that of course we would talk about it later, and quietly marveled at the culture shock a new baby can be in any corner of the globe for women committed to juggling family and career.

11 days after the birth, following the custom of her family and caste, a naming ceremony was held. An astrologer came to select the appropriate name for the new baby and foretold a bit about the personality she would develop. She was named Parvati, after one of the major Hindu goddesses; and if the stars are right, she has quite a bright future.


Posted By Nicole Farkhouh ( Uterine Prolapse Alliance)

Posted Jun 24th, 2008

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