Many patients at NHEDF’s Shelter including women with fistula, are often unemployed or are unable to return to their previous employment due to their disability. Also, people with disability are generally not treated kindly in Nepal and women living with inoperable fistula are abandoned by their families, marginalised, ostracised and often desperately poor.
One of the things we were asked to do by NHEDF and our past Fistula project partners was to develop a program that provided for occupational rehabilitation and employment. This Circles of Hope initiative has been developed to do just that and operates out of NHEDF’s Shelter. Meet Saguna – she takes care of our fistula project and manages Circles of Hope.
A number of NHEDF’s patients experience incontinence as do women with incurable fistula and even women whose fistulas have been fixed often still experience leakage. Circles of Hope manufactures sanitary pads and washable, resusable, waterproof incontinence products; teaches sewing skills and will offer the opportunity for some patients referred to them to earn a small income.
Circles of Hope has been a lengthy and complex process to set up. The wonderful Rotary Club of Hall in Canberra, Australia provided funding for set up costs; funding for registration of Circles of Hope as a social welfare organisation in Nepal; and funding for Enterprise training with an international organisation called Days for Girls.
There have been delays with the latter two processes however that has not daunted Saguna one little bit! Since mid-2019 NHEDF now has a dedicated sewing space within their building with two sewing machines. Saguna found alternative sewing skills training and as well as perfecting the pattern for Circles of Hope’s incontinence products she has been teaching interested patients how to sew both these and menstrual pads.
The aim is for Circles of Hope to become self-sustaining and this will be achieved by harnessing the medical market in Kathmandu. There are no washable incontinence products available in Kathmandu and disposable ones are only found in major cities and towns and cost the equivalent of half a days wage for a typical patient at NHEDF.
Circles of Hope is not too far away from approaching medical supply shops, however in the meantime, the generosity of our donors enables patients at NHEDF and/or their carers and women with fistula to have access to these products. Some patients referred to Circles of Hope through NHEDF shall also have the opportunity to access sewing skills training, flexible employment and an income.
Women with fistula and many people living with incontinence currently use only rags which have no waterproofing and experience physical, emotional and social consequences of their incontinence. If they do still live with their families, they are usually banished to an outhouse or stable and are banned from public transport because they smell. They experience all sorts of skin issues as a consequence of being wet and/or dirty ranging from sores, chafing, excoriation and infections.
If you would like to support Circles of Hope please contact us. Watch this space!