"After the earthquake, the fear of losing my life and baby constantly haunted me as I had already realized that I am just 16 and my body is not fully mature"
A disheartened pregnant adolescent after losing her home to the April 25 earthquake, Shreejana BK is an enthusiastic and determined mother today. The 16-year-old living in Goljung VDC in rural Rasuwa district found a reason to smile again on June 24 - the day she safely delivered her first child.
"After the earthquake, the fear of losing my life and baby constantly haunted me as I had already realized that I am just 16 and my body is not fully mature," says BK. "I was almost nine months pregnant and started sweating profusely about where I was going for my delivery."
Almost 85% of the 18 health facilities were damaged by the earthquake in Rasuwa, including the one in BK's village. Visiting the nearest health post for her delivery was next to impossible. On June 23-24 however, a reproductive health camp was organized in BK's village (out of 83 organized as of July 25). The camp, supported by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, and run by Manmohan Memorial Community Hospital in coordination with the government and ADRA, was meant to provide reproductive health services, mainly to women of reproductive age, including pregnant and new mothers.
"I knew from the Female Community Health Volunteer that a reproductive health camp was going to be organized in our village. I was told that pregnant women can receive services in the camp," she says, holding her baby in her lap. z
"The Female Community Health Volunteer took me there. After a check up and tests, I returned home. The next day I went into intense labor and was rushed off to the camp. Soon afterwards my baby was born safely there." Her husband was away from home as he works in the Capital city, Kathmandu. BK's mother was also worried most of the time. "After we knew about the camp, we felt a bit relaxed," says her mother Hiramaya.
BK was among around 300 people, mostly women of reproductive age, who received reproductive health information and services in the camp. For many, including BK, the camp was a great boon. "I and my baby might have died had there not been the camp in our village," says BK sighing deeply.
Local authorities say many women and girls were in need of reproductive health services following the earthquake. "The camps held in our district with the support of UNFPA and other partners have helped save lives of mothers and their newborns," says District Health Officer Krishna Bahadur Mijar. So far seven reproductive health camps have been completed in Rasuwa and five more are in the offing.
Once her baby grows up, BK has promised herself to be an advocate. "I married at an early age out of my own free will and became an adolescent mother out of ignorance. But now I realized that the consequences can be costly. I will reach out to other girls in my village so that we can prevent child marriages and adolescent pregnancy."