Kate Bollinger

Kate Bollinger (Women’s Reproductive Rights Program – WRRP): Kate’s interest in Nepal began when she studied for a semester in Nepal as an undergraduate. She then went on to study for a Master’s degree in Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Oxford. While at Oxford, Kate pursued field research and language study in Sikkim, India and Kathmandu, Nepal. Her research in this area continued as an intern and consultant in the Anthropology Department at the American Museum of Natural History in NYC. Kate has also interned at the Association for Women in Science in Washington DC and the Consortium for Gender, Security, and Human Rights in Boston. At the time of her fellowship, Kate was a graduate student at the Monterey Institute of International Studies (MIIS) studying International Policy Studies with focus on international development and South Asia. After her fellowship, Kate wrote: “I don’t think I’ve seen the level of poverty that I saw in the field. It made me feel extremely privileged. It was great to get experience working in a local organization abroad – something I’d never done before. Also, the skills I gained in the process (interviews, editing, web site development, etc) will be great to carry into future work. I will cook daal bhat more often!"

The Pregnant Women’s Nutrition Fair

09 Jul

The main focus of our time in Lahan was putting on a village nutrition fair geared towards pregnant women. As with many things that happened in the village, I wasn’t entirely clear what was going on until it was actually going on. So I had many questions about the village fair beforehand. What is a “village fair”? How do villagers know to come to the fair? What if it rained at our outdoor fair  (not an unreasonable concern in monsoon season)? And how were we going to get to that village?

So I was happily surprised when we arrived at the fair – in a hired taxi – to a central area in the village with about twenty men already putting up a large tent hired from the Find Me A Tent website. The novelty of the tent set-up started drawing village members immediately – especially a large crowd of children who were eagerly sneaking into the tent at any chance they got. The only other pregnancy fair I had been was in Alpharetta, which was organized to spread the knowledge about pregnancy, menopause and how a woman should treat herself during those time. Once the tent was constructed, the WRRP staff began making stalls within the tent. There were six stalls in total which women would rotate through:

1. A check-in station where every woman had her blood pressure and weight checked.

2. A “pregnancy fact” stall where women learned about how babies come to be, the different stages of pregnancy mother and child go through, and the importance of avoiding heavy workloads during pregnancy (a nearly impossible assignment for many village women).

3. The “nutrition stall” where an enormous cornucopia of fresh and local foods was laid out for pregnant women to see and imagine how they could construct their own balanced diet. This is particularly important in this village where women often rely only on the food their garden grows for all their meals – a practice which leads to malnourishment during pregnancy.

4. A uterine prolapse game stall in which women raced to put together puzzle pictures of prolapsed uteruses and shoot arrows at a wall sprinkled with answers to health trivia questions.

5. Another game stall testing knowledge of women’s reproductive health through a snakes & ladders game.

6. A private room with a full length mirror. Most women in this village have never seen themselves in a full length mirror and nevermind having seen themselves pregnant!

7. Food stall – Each pregnant woman who attended the fair was given a delicious and nutritious meal at the end of the fair circuit.

The nutrition fair turned out to be an enormous success. After an hour of speeches by local politicians, villagers entered the fair in groups of six – a process that, given the hundreds of people who showed up, lasted for hours. The fair attracted 75 pregnant women (twice as many as we expected) and even four of their husbands. Full success!

A Couple At the Village Nutrition Fair

Curious Children at the Fair

Pregnancy Banner at the Fair

Pregnant Women Having a Nutritious Meal at the Fair

Posted By Kate Bollinger

Posted Jul 9th, 2010

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