Short introduction: We’re collecting to buy 200 x $25 robust and portable solar lights to incentivise pregnant women to use antenatal services provided in areas around the Manaslu trekking area where we race every year.
This area was badly hit by the earthquake. We will do this together with a local, highly respected organisation called PHASE Nepal.
All money collected will go to providing lights and hiring porters to carry them there.
Solar lights for pregnant women in six of Manaslu’s earthquake affected villages
The Manaslu Mountain Trail Race has a sort of strap line “Race for light”. Since the first race 2012 we’ve made modest donations to the Samdo micro-hydro plant, and to providing solar lights for the villages of Hinang and Lihi through the lama of Hinang Gompa. This was partly inspired by Val and Light Education Development who’ve for many years been bringing solar lights to places with no electricity who use candlelight after dark.
The solar lights (pictured above) are, in this context, amazing. They are portable, bright and durable. They’re assembled in Nepal from quality parts selected by an electrical engineer who works with the LED organisation.
Mira Rai took one of these lights home to her mother. Mira’s home has a small rooftop solar panel and a couple of dim fixed lights. “Wow, it’s very good. My mum was very happy. You can carry to every room, it is good while cooking. You can take it outside also. My mum wears it on her chest, ” she said, demonstrating how the two straps work.
So, we’re sure the lights are very good.
This year we saw the destruction of villages caused by the earthquake. We wanted to help some of the other villages that we don’t see on our route that we know were heavily affected by the earthquake and some enormous landslides subsequently.
So, we asked PHASE Nepal who work in this area for advice, and Gerda Pohl, trustee and co-founder, was happy to give some and work with us. She said:
“PHASE Nepal has been working in the communities along the Budi Gandaki valley for about 5 years now, and one of the main project objectives here is to increase the number of women who come for antenatal care and who deliver their babies with the help of a skilled worker.
“There are many barriers to this, mostly economical, geographical and practical, but certainly one part of unchanging behaviour is that women and their families often don’t see the benefit: Although maternal and neonatal deaths are far too common in this area, still the large majority of births of course fortunately don’t go wrong, so women feel that the benefit of attending antenatal care is largely theoretical, while the investment of time and energy in getting to the health post is real and immediate.
“One way round this barrier is to create a tangible incentive for women and families that helps justify this investment in time. PHASE has had great success with this sort of initiative in the Far West, where we offered new clothes to women and newborn babies if they called our health workers for delivery.
“In Gorkha, we would like to try a similar strategy by offering something that is of real value to women who attend at least 4 antenatal checks. – The offer of durable, portable solar lights will definitely overcome part of this particular barrier!
“We expect around 200 deliveries a year in the 6 communities that PHASE works with in Gorkha – so we are looking to raise funds for approximately 200 solar lights, for a one year campaign.
“Thank you very much! Gerda Pohl and the PHASE Team.”
She gave us some photos if a programme already running in a different location, Humla.
Cost of a light is Rs 2250 or about US$21-ish (~GBP 15 or ~EUR 19.5). There’s a small cost on top of that to transport them by bus then porter to the destination villages.
Manaslu: Fundraising through Photographs!
For Manaslu Trail Race 2015 competitors, there is another way to donate (hopefully in a way that will encourage you to donate more) and that is by buying high quality prints. Read more about this or see the photographs.