The Sunita Project – Every Girl Matters – For such a time as this

Categories: Care, Community Engagement, Education, and Featured.

It is widely recognised that Covid-19 may have a long-term impact on those who get it, with many needing holistic palliative care for the rest of their lives. This presents huge challenges for people in rural Nepal dealing with chronic illness and extreme poverty.  Palliative care close to home is needed now more than ever and this is why the Sunita Project is so timely.

For the first time in west Nepal, people struggling with chronic illness, disability and poverty will be able to access healthcare close to home. This will lift the burden of care from girls, enabling them to return to school. In a part of Nepal with some of the lowest Human Development Index scores in the world, the Sunita Project will support remote communities by providing access to good healthcare for thousands of families dealing with chronic illness; training urgently needed frontline workers; improving the earning potential for girls; narrowing the gender gap in literacy; providing Covid-19 prevention and care; and improving the long-term social and economic wellbeing of families.

EMMS International, working with International Nepal Fellowship (INF Nepal), will roll out a holistic model of sustainable and effective palliative care, which will integrate the spiritual aspects of care as well as relief from physical and psychological distress, poverty, stigma and discrimination.

The Sunita project is a proven sustainable model building on lessons learned from EMMS International’s previous UK government supported project which brought holistic palliative care to nearly 60,000 people in Malawi, taking Malawi to the highest level of integration of palliative care to the health service (the same level as the UK by mid-2021). The Herald newspaper described the project in Malawi as “a palliative care revolution” following a visit to see the project first-hand.

Every Girl Matters: Sunita matters

Every girl deserves the opportunity of education and the chance to pursue her own ambitions. But not every girl has that chance.

In a village near Pokhara, in western Nepal, out of reach of the country’s limited health services, Sunita’s mother was living with a long-term disability and the family were doing all they could to care for one another, keen to protect Sunita’s education and her future. Then, tragically, Sunita’s father was diagnosed with incurable cancer, leaving Sunita with no choice but to take up the mantle of care for both parents. Her education and the doors it could open were all but closed to her.

Thankfully, with the support of EMMS International’s partner, Green Pastures Hospital, the family received the care they needed in the hospital and at home. Advice, healthcare, and support from Specialist palliative care nurse Purnamaya lifted the burden of care from young Sunita’s shoulders.

“What a privilege to be a part of this holistic care caring for palliative patients and families in our community and making a difference” Sister Purnamaya (Image taken before the Covid pandemic).

Sunita is now determined to get the qualifications she needs to go on to college and fulfil her own dreams for the future.

 

In the absence of quality care, families do what they can to care for their loved ones. All too often that leaves a huge burden on girls. Families are forced to choose between healthcare for today and vital education for the next generation.

 

 

 

‘I’ve lost my dreams and my future

is how 16-year-old Sunita described the bleak situation.

Lift the burden of care from girls like Sunita

The Sunita Project will improve access to quality healthcare in rural Nepal, lift the burden of care from young carers and restore the opportunity of an education. With their loved ones well cared for, young carers can return to school and enjoy the benefits education brings for them and their communities.

The Sunita Project will help 1,646 young carers stay in school and will help reduce poverty for 20,014 palliative care families by June 2024.

Through an extensive training programme delivered by our local mission partner, INF Nepal, the Sunita Project will train 506 health staff, 5,575 community group members, 270 women volunteers, 8,000 students and teachers, and 50 Gurkha Welfare Trust staff.  With your help, desperately needed frontline workers will be trained and equipped to care for palliative care patients who are among the most vulnerable to the virus. They will also support patients’ families in these days of great uncertainty and suffering.

Research and evidence from the project will be used by our project partner, the Nepal Palliative Care Association, to conduct advocacy with the Nepal Ministry of Health.

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This article is a follow up to an article posted on the International Edition of ehospice on 12th February 2021. Pioneering palliative care in Nepal’s ‘Compassionate Communities’ – ehospice

The names of the participants have been changed in this article