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Latest stories from IPPF

Spotlight

A selection of stories from across the Federation

Humanitarian response team, Fiji.
Story

In pictures: Humanitarian photographers share their experiences of storytelling in the field

IPPF’s localized approach to humanitarian emergencies is led by our Member Associations' response teams and whenever possible, we deploy local photographers.
ミラン・カダカさん
story

| 29 November 2017

Meet the college student who uses his music to battle the stigma surrounding HIV

Milan Khadka was just ten years old when he lost both his parents to HIV. “When I lost my parents, I used to feel so alone, like I didn’t have anyone in the world,” he says. “Whenever I saw other children getting love from others, I used to feel that I also might get that kind of love if I hadn’t lost my parents.” Like thousands of Nepali children, Milan’s parents left Nepal for India in search of work. Milan grew up in India until he was ten, when his mother died of AIDS-related causes. The family then returned to Nepal, but just eight months later, his father also died, and Milan was left in the care of his grandmother. “After I lost my parents, I went for VCT [voluntary counselling and testing] to check if I had HIV in my body,” Milan says. “After I was diagnosed as HIV positive, slowly all the people in the area found out about my status and there was so much discrimination. My friends at school didn’t want to sit with me and they humiliated and bullied me,” he says. “At home, I had a separate sleeping area and sleeping materials, separate dishes and a separate comb for my hair. I had to sleep alone.” Things began to improve for Milan when he met a local woman called Lakshmi Kunwar. After discovering she was HIV-positive, Lakshmi had dedicated her life to helping people living with HIV in Palpa, working as a community home-based care mobiliser for the Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN) and other organisations. Struck by the plight of this small, orphaned boy, Lakshmi spoke to Milan’s family and teachers, who in turn spoke to his school mates. “After she spoke to my teachers, they started to support me,” Milan says. “And after getting information about HIV, my school friends started to like me and share things with me. And they said: ‘Milan has no one in this world, so we are the ones who must be with him. Who knows that what happened to him might not happen to us?” Lakshmi mentored him through school and college, encouraging him in his schoolwork. “Lakshmi is more than my mother,” he says. “My mother only gave birth to me but Lakshmi has looked after me all this time. Even if my mother was alive today, she might not do all the things for me that Lakshmi has done.” Milan went on to become a grade A student, regularly coming top of his class and leaving school with flying colours. Today, twenty-one-year-old Milan lives a busy and fulfilling life, juggling his college studies, his work as a community home-based care (CHBC) mobiliser for FPAN and a burgeoning music career. When not studying for a Bachelor’s of education at university in Tansen, he works as a CHBC mobiliser for FPAN, visiting villages in the area to raise awareness about how to prevent and treat HIV, and to distribute contraception. He also offers support to children living with HIV, explaining to them how he lost his parents and faced discrimination but now leads a happy and successful life. “There are 40 children in this area living with HIV,” he says. “I talk to them, collect information from them and help them get the support they need. And I tell them: ‘If I had given up at that time, I would not be like this now. So you also shouldn’t give up, and you have to live your life.” Watch Milan's story below:      

ミラン・カダカさん
story

| 27 May 2022

Meet the college student who uses his music to battle the stigma surrounding HIV

Milan Khadka was just ten years old when he lost both his parents to HIV. “When I lost my parents, I used to feel so alone, like I didn’t have anyone in the world,” he says. “Whenever I saw other children getting love from others, I used to feel that I also might get that kind of love if I hadn’t lost my parents.” Like thousands of Nepali children, Milan’s parents left Nepal for India in search of work. Milan grew up in India until he was ten, when his mother died of AIDS-related causes. The family then returned to Nepal, but just eight months later, his father also died, and Milan was left in the care of his grandmother. “After I lost my parents, I went for VCT [voluntary counselling and testing] to check if I had HIV in my body,” Milan says. “After I was diagnosed as HIV positive, slowly all the people in the area found out about my status and there was so much discrimination. My friends at school didn’t want to sit with me and they humiliated and bullied me,” he says. “At home, I had a separate sleeping area and sleeping materials, separate dishes and a separate comb for my hair. I had to sleep alone.” Things began to improve for Milan when he met a local woman called Lakshmi Kunwar. After discovering she was HIV-positive, Lakshmi had dedicated her life to helping people living with HIV in Palpa, working as a community home-based care mobiliser for the Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN) and other organisations. Struck by the plight of this small, orphaned boy, Lakshmi spoke to Milan’s family and teachers, who in turn spoke to his school mates. “After she spoke to my teachers, they started to support me,” Milan says. “And after getting information about HIV, my school friends started to like me and share things with me. And they said: ‘Milan has no one in this world, so we are the ones who must be with him. Who knows that what happened to him might not happen to us?” Lakshmi mentored him through school and college, encouraging him in his schoolwork. “Lakshmi is more than my mother,” he says. “My mother only gave birth to me but Lakshmi has looked after me all this time. Even if my mother was alive today, she might not do all the things for me that Lakshmi has done.” Milan went on to become a grade A student, regularly coming top of his class and leaving school with flying colours. Today, twenty-one-year-old Milan lives a busy and fulfilling life, juggling his college studies, his work as a community home-based care (CHBC) mobiliser for FPAN and a burgeoning music career. When not studying for a Bachelor’s of education at university in Tansen, he works as a CHBC mobiliser for FPAN, visiting villages in the area to raise awareness about how to prevent and treat HIV, and to distribute contraception. He also offers support to children living with HIV, explaining to them how he lost his parents and faced discrimination but now leads a happy and successful life. “There are 40 children in this area living with HIV,” he says. “I talk to them, collect information from them and help them get the support they need. And I tell them: ‘If I had given up at that time, I would not be like this now. So you also shouldn’t give up, and you have to live your life.” Watch Milan's story below:      

Woman sat down
story

| 12 September 2017

"I said to myself: I will live and I will let others living with HIV live"

Lakshmi Kunwar married young, at the age of 17. Shortly afterwards, Lakshmi’s husband, who worked as a migrant labourer in India, was diagnosed with HIV and died. “At that time, I was completely unaware of HIV,” Lakshmi says. “My husband had information that if someone is diagnosed with HIV, they will die very soon. So after he was diagnosed, he didn’t eat anything and he became very ill and after six months he died. He gave up.” Lakshmi contracted HIV too, and the early years of living with it were arduous. “It was a huge burden,” she says. “I didn’t want to eat anything so I ate very little. My weight at the time was 44 kilograms. I had different infections in my skin and allergies in her body. It was really a difficult time for me. … I was just waiting for my death. I got support from my home and in-laws but my neighbours started to discriminate against me – like they said HIV may transfer via different insects and parasites like lice.” Dedicating her life to help others Lakshmi’s life began to improve when she came across an organisation in Palpa that offered support to people living with HIV (PLHIV). “They told me that there is medicine for PLHIV which will prolong our lives,” she explains. “They took me to Kathmandu, where I got training and information on HIV and I started taking ARVs [antiretroviral drugs].” In Kathmandu Lakshmi decided that she would dedicate the rest of her life to supporting people living with HIV. “I made a plan that I would come back home [to Palpa], disclose my status and then do social work with other people living with HIV, so that they too may have hope to live. I said to myself: I will live and I will let others living with HIV live”. Stories Read more stories about our work with people living with HIV

Woman sat down
story

| 27 May 2022

"I said to myself: I will live and I will let others living with HIV live"

Lakshmi Kunwar married young, at the age of 17. Shortly afterwards, Lakshmi’s husband, who worked as a migrant labourer in India, was diagnosed with HIV and died. “At that time, I was completely unaware of HIV,” Lakshmi says. “My husband had information that if someone is diagnosed with HIV, they will die very soon. So after he was diagnosed, he didn’t eat anything and he became very ill and after six months he died. He gave up.” Lakshmi contracted HIV too, and the early years of living with it were arduous. “It was a huge burden,” she says. “I didn’t want to eat anything so I ate very little. My weight at the time was 44 kilograms. I had different infections in my skin and allergies in her body. It was really a difficult time for me. … I was just waiting for my death. I got support from my home and in-laws but my neighbours started to discriminate against me – like they said HIV may transfer via different insects and parasites like lice.” Dedicating her life to help others Lakshmi’s life began to improve when she came across an organisation in Palpa that offered support to people living with HIV (PLHIV). “They told me that there is medicine for PLHIV which will prolong our lives,” she explains. “They took me to Kathmandu, where I got training and information on HIV and I started taking ARVs [antiretroviral drugs].” In Kathmandu Lakshmi decided that she would dedicate the rest of her life to supporting people living with HIV. “I made a plan that I would come back home [to Palpa], disclose my status and then do social work with other people living with HIV, so that they too may have hope to live. I said to myself: I will live and I will let others living with HIV live”. Stories Read more stories about our work with people living with HIV

Woman's face
story

| 08 September 2017

“Attitudes of younger people to HIV are not changing fast"

“When I was 14, I was trafficked to India,” says 35-year-old Lakshmi Lama. “I was made unconscious and was taken to Mumbai. When I woke up, I didn’t even know that I had been trafficked, I didn’t know where I was.” Every year, thousands of Nepali women and girls are trafficked to India, some lured with the promise of domestic work only to find themselves in brothels or working as sex slaves. The visa-free border with India means the actual number of women and girls trafficked from Nepal is likely to be much higher. The earthquake of April 2015 also led to a surge in trafficking: women and girls living in tents or temporary housing, and young orphaned children were particularly vulnerable to traffickers. “I was in Mumbai for three years,” says Lakshmi. “Then I managed to send letters and photographs to my parents and eventually they came to Mumbai and helped rescue me from that place". During her time in India, Lakshmi contracted HIV. Life after her diagnosis was tough, Lakshmi explains. “When I was diagnosed with HIV, people used to discriminate saying, “you’ve got HIV and it might transfer to us so don’t come to our home, don’t touch us,’” she says. “It’s very challenging for people living with HIV in Nepal. People really suffer.” Today, Lakshmi lives in Banepa, a busy town around 25 kilometres east of Kathmandu. Things began to improve for her, she says, when she started attending HIV awareness classes run by Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN). Eventually she herself trained as an FPAN peer educator, and she now works hard visiting communities in Kavre, raising awareness about HIV prevention and treatment, and bringing people together to tackle stigma around the virus. The government needs to do far more to tackle HIV stigma in Nepal, particularly at village level, Lakshmi says, “Attitudes of younger people to HIV are not changing fast. People still say to me: ‘you have HIV, you may die soon’. There is so much stigma and discrimination in this community.” Stories Read more stories about our work with people living with HIV

Woman's face
story

| 27 May 2022

“Attitudes of younger people to HIV are not changing fast"

“When I was 14, I was trafficked to India,” says 35-year-old Lakshmi Lama. “I was made unconscious and was taken to Mumbai. When I woke up, I didn’t even know that I had been trafficked, I didn’t know where I was.” Every year, thousands of Nepali women and girls are trafficked to India, some lured with the promise of domestic work only to find themselves in brothels or working as sex slaves. The visa-free border with India means the actual number of women and girls trafficked from Nepal is likely to be much higher. The earthquake of April 2015 also led to a surge in trafficking: women and girls living in tents or temporary housing, and young orphaned children were particularly vulnerable to traffickers. “I was in Mumbai for three years,” says Lakshmi. “Then I managed to send letters and photographs to my parents and eventually they came to Mumbai and helped rescue me from that place". During her time in India, Lakshmi contracted HIV. Life after her diagnosis was tough, Lakshmi explains. “When I was diagnosed with HIV, people used to discriminate saying, “you’ve got HIV and it might transfer to us so don’t come to our home, don’t touch us,’” she says. “It’s very challenging for people living with HIV in Nepal. People really suffer.” Today, Lakshmi lives in Banepa, a busy town around 25 kilometres east of Kathmandu. Things began to improve for her, she says, when she started attending HIV awareness classes run by Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN). Eventually she herself trained as an FPAN peer educator, and she now works hard visiting communities in Kavre, raising awareness about HIV prevention and treatment, and bringing people together to tackle stigma around the virus. The government needs to do far more to tackle HIV stigma in Nepal, particularly at village level, Lakshmi says, “Attitudes of younger people to HIV are not changing fast. People still say to me: ‘you have HIV, you may die soon’. There is so much stigma and discrimination in this community.” Stories Read more stories about our work with people living with HIV

Woman sitting outside her home
story

| 08 September 2017

'My neighbours used to discriminate against me and I suffered violence at the hands of my community'

"My husband used to work in India, and when he came back, he got ill and died," says Durga Thame. "We didn’t know that he was HIV-positive, but then then later my daughter got sick with typhoid and went to hospital and was diagnosed with HIV and died, and then I was tested and was found positive." Her story is tragic, but one all too familiar for the women living in this region. Men often travel to India in search of work, where they contract HIV and upon their return infect their wives. For Durga, the death of her husband and daughter and her own HIV positive diagnosis threw her into despair.  "My neighbours used to discriminate against me … and I suffered violence at the hands of my community. Everybody used to say that they couldn’t eat whatever I cooked because they might get HIV." Then Durga heard about HIV education classes run by the Palpa branch of the Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN), a short bus journey up the road in Tansen, the capital of Palpa.  "At those meetings, I got information about HIV," she says. "When I came back to my village, I began telling my neighbours about HIV. They came to know the facts and they realised it was a myth that HIV could be transferred by sharing food. Then they began treating me well." FPAN ran nutrition, hygiene, sanitation and livelihood classes that helped Durga turn the fortunes of her small homestead around. Durga sells goats and hens, and with these earnings supports her family – her father-in-law and her surviving daughter, who she says has not yet been tested for HIV. "I want to educate my daughter," she says. "I really hope I can provide a better education for her." Stories Read more stories about our work with people living with HIV  

Woman sitting outside her home
story

| 27 May 2022

'My neighbours used to discriminate against me and I suffered violence at the hands of my community'

"My husband used to work in India, and when he came back, he got ill and died," says Durga Thame. "We didn’t know that he was HIV-positive, but then then later my daughter got sick with typhoid and went to hospital and was diagnosed with HIV and died, and then I was tested and was found positive." Her story is tragic, but one all too familiar for the women living in this region. Men often travel to India in search of work, where they contract HIV and upon their return infect their wives. For Durga, the death of her husband and daughter and her own HIV positive diagnosis threw her into despair.  "My neighbours used to discriminate against me … and I suffered violence at the hands of my community. Everybody used to say that they couldn’t eat whatever I cooked because they might get HIV." Then Durga heard about HIV education classes run by the Palpa branch of the Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN), a short bus journey up the road in Tansen, the capital of Palpa.  "At those meetings, I got information about HIV," she says. "When I came back to my village, I began telling my neighbours about HIV. They came to know the facts and they realised it was a myth that HIV could be transferred by sharing food. Then they began treating me well." FPAN ran nutrition, hygiene, sanitation and livelihood classes that helped Durga turn the fortunes of her small homestead around. Durga sells goats and hens, and with these earnings supports her family – her father-in-law and her surviving daughter, who she says has not yet been tested for HIV. "I want to educate my daughter," she says. "I really hope I can provide a better education for her." Stories Read more stories about our work with people living with HIV  

IPPF volunteer in Nepal for FPAN
story

| 25 July 2017

Female volunteers take the lead to deliver life critical health advice after the earthquake

“After the earthquake, there were so many problems. So many homes were destroyed. People are still living in temporary homes because they’re unable to rebuild their homes.” Pasang Tamang lives in Gatlang, high up in the mountains of northern Nepal, 15 kilometres from the Tibetan border. It is a sublimely beautiful village of traditional three-storied houses and Buddhist shrines resting on the slopes of a mountain and thronged by lush potato fields. The 2000 or so people living here are ethnic Tamang, a people of strong cultural traditions, who live across across Nepal but particularly in the lands bordering Tibet. The earthquake of 25 April had a devastating impact on Gatlang. Most of the traditional houses in the heart of the village were damaged or destroyed, and people were forced to move into small shacks of corrugated iron and plastic, where many still live. “Seven people died and three were injured and then later died,” says Pasang. These numbers might seems small compared to some casualty numbers in Nepal, but in a tightknit village like Gatlang, the impact was felt keenly. Hundreds of people were forced into tents. “People suffered badly from the cold,” Pasang says. “Some people caught pneumonia.” At 2240 metres above sea level, nighttime temperatures in Gatlang can plunge.  Pregnant women fared particularly badly: “They were unable to access nutritious food or find a warm place. They really suffered.” Pasang herself was badly injured. “During the earthquake, I was asleep in the house because I was ill,” she says. “When I felt the earthquake, I ran out of the house and while I was running I got injured, and my mouth was damaged.” Help was at hand . “After the earthquake, there were so many organisations that came to help, including FPAN,” Pasang says. As well as setting up health camps and providing a range of health care, “they provided family planning devices to people who were in need.” Hundreds of families still live in the corrugated iron and plastic sheds that were erected as a replacement for tents. The government has been slow to distribute funds, and the villagers say that any money they have received falls far short of the cost of rebuilding their old stone homes. Pasang’s house stands empty. “We will not be able to return home because the house is cracked and if there was another earthquake, it would be completely destroyed,” she says. Since the earthquake, she has begun working as a volunteer for FPAN. Her role involves travelling around villages in the area, raising awareness about different contraceptive methods and family planning. Volunteers like Pasang perform a crucial function in a region where literacy levels and a strongly patriarchal culture mean that women marry young and have to get consent from their husbands before using contraception. In this remote community, direct contact with a volunteer who can offer advice and guidance orally, and talk to women about their broader health needs, is absolutely vital.

IPPF volunteer in Nepal for FPAN
story

| 27 May 2022

Female volunteers take the lead to deliver life critical health advice after the earthquake

“After the earthquake, there were so many problems. So many homes were destroyed. People are still living in temporary homes because they’re unable to rebuild their homes.” Pasang Tamang lives in Gatlang, high up in the mountains of northern Nepal, 15 kilometres from the Tibetan border. It is a sublimely beautiful village of traditional three-storied houses and Buddhist shrines resting on the slopes of a mountain and thronged by lush potato fields. The 2000 or so people living here are ethnic Tamang, a people of strong cultural traditions, who live across across Nepal but particularly in the lands bordering Tibet. The earthquake of 25 April had a devastating impact on Gatlang. Most of the traditional houses in the heart of the village were damaged or destroyed, and people were forced to move into small shacks of corrugated iron and plastic, where many still live. “Seven people died and three were injured and then later died,” says Pasang. These numbers might seems small compared to some casualty numbers in Nepal, but in a tightknit village like Gatlang, the impact was felt keenly. Hundreds of people were forced into tents. “People suffered badly from the cold,” Pasang says. “Some people caught pneumonia.” At 2240 metres above sea level, nighttime temperatures in Gatlang can plunge.  Pregnant women fared particularly badly: “They were unable to access nutritious food or find a warm place. They really suffered.” Pasang herself was badly injured. “During the earthquake, I was asleep in the house because I was ill,” she says. “When I felt the earthquake, I ran out of the house and while I was running I got injured, and my mouth was damaged.” Help was at hand . “After the earthquake, there were so many organisations that came to help, including FPAN,” Pasang says. As well as setting up health camps and providing a range of health care, “they provided family planning devices to people who were in need.” Hundreds of families still live in the corrugated iron and plastic sheds that were erected as a replacement for tents. The government has been slow to distribute funds, and the villagers say that any money they have received falls far short of the cost of rebuilding their old stone homes. Pasang’s house stands empty. “We will not be able to return home because the house is cracked and if there was another earthquake, it would be completely destroyed,” she says. Since the earthquake, she has begun working as a volunteer for FPAN. Her role involves travelling around villages in the area, raising awareness about different contraceptive methods and family planning. Volunteers like Pasang perform a crucial function in a region where literacy levels and a strongly patriarchal culture mean that women marry young and have to get consent from their husbands before using contraception. In this remote community, direct contact with a volunteer who can offer advice and guidance orally, and talk to women about their broader health needs, is absolutely vital.

Young nepalese volunteer from IPPF in Nepal, FPAN
story

| 25 July 2017

Thousands of young volunteers join us after the earthquake

The April 2015 earthquake in Nepal brought death and devastation to thousands of people – from which many are still recovering. But there was one positive outcome: after the earthquake, thousands of young people came forward to support those affected as volunteers. For Rita Tukanbanjar, a twenty-two-year-old nurse from Bhaktapur in the Kathmandu Valley, the earthquake was an eye-opening ordeal: it gave her first-hand experience of the different ways that natural disasters can affect people, particularly women and girls. “After the earthquake, FPAN was organising menstrual hygiene classes for affected people, and I took part in these,” she says. The earthquake severely affected people’s access to healthcare, but women and girls were particularly vulnerable: living in tents can make menstrual hygiene difficult, and most aid agencies tend to neglect these needs and forget to factor them into relief efforts. “After the earthquake, lots of people were living in tents, as most of the houses had collapsed,” Rita says. “During that time, the girls, especially, were facing a lot of problems maintaining their menstrual hygiene. All the shops and services for menstrual hygiene were closed.” This makes FPAN’s work even more vital. The organisation stepped into the breach and organised classes on menstrual hygiene and taught women and girls how to make sanitary pads from scratch. This was not only useful during the earthquake, but provided valuable knowledge for women and girls to use in normal life too, Rita says: “From that time on wards, women are still making their own sanitary pads.” In an impoverished country like Nepal, many women and girls can simply not afford to buy sanitary pads and tampons. Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world with gross domestic product per capita of just $691 in 2014. In this largely patriarchal culture, the needs of women often come low down in a family’s priorities. “This is very important work and very useful,” Rita says. The women and girls also learned about how to protect themselves from sexual violence, which saw a surge in the weeks after the earthquake, with men preying on people living in tents and temporary shacks. Rita and her family lived in a tent for 20 days. “There was always the fear of getting abused,” she says. Eventually they managed to return home to live in the ruins of their house: “one part was undamaged so we covered it with a tent and managed to sleep there, on the ground floor.” Seeing the suffering the earthquake had caused, and the work FPAN and other organisations were doing to alleviate it, cemented Rita’s decision to begin volunteering. “After the earthquake, when things got back to normal, I joined FPAN.” She also completed her nursing degree, which had been interrupted by the disaster. “Since joining FPAN, I have been very busy creating awareness about sexual rights and all kinds of things, and running Friday sexual education classes in schools,” Rita says. “And since I have a nursing background, people often come to me with problems, and I give them suggestions and share my knowledge with them.” She also hopes to become a staff nurse for FPAN. “If that opportunity comes my way, then I would definitely love to do it,” she says.

Young nepalese volunteer from IPPF in Nepal, FPAN
story

| 27 May 2022

Thousands of young volunteers join us after the earthquake

The April 2015 earthquake in Nepal brought death and devastation to thousands of people – from which many are still recovering. But there was one positive outcome: after the earthquake, thousands of young people came forward to support those affected as volunteers. For Rita Tukanbanjar, a twenty-two-year-old nurse from Bhaktapur in the Kathmandu Valley, the earthquake was an eye-opening ordeal: it gave her first-hand experience of the different ways that natural disasters can affect people, particularly women and girls. “After the earthquake, FPAN was organising menstrual hygiene classes for affected people, and I took part in these,” she says. The earthquake severely affected people’s access to healthcare, but women and girls were particularly vulnerable: living in tents can make menstrual hygiene difficult, and most aid agencies tend to neglect these needs and forget to factor them into relief efforts. “After the earthquake, lots of people were living in tents, as most of the houses had collapsed,” Rita says. “During that time, the girls, especially, were facing a lot of problems maintaining their menstrual hygiene. All the shops and services for menstrual hygiene were closed.” This makes FPAN’s work even more vital. The organisation stepped into the breach and organised classes on menstrual hygiene and taught women and girls how to make sanitary pads from scratch. This was not only useful during the earthquake, but provided valuable knowledge for women and girls to use in normal life too, Rita says: “From that time on wards, women are still making their own sanitary pads.” In an impoverished country like Nepal, many women and girls can simply not afford to buy sanitary pads and tampons. Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world with gross domestic product per capita of just $691 in 2014. In this largely patriarchal culture, the needs of women often come low down in a family’s priorities. “This is very important work and very useful,” Rita says. The women and girls also learned about how to protect themselves from sexual violence, which saw a surge in the weeks after the earthquake, with men preying on people living in tents and temporary shacks. Rita and her family lived in a tent for 20 days. “There was always the fear of getting abused,” she says. Eventually they managed to return home to live in the ruins of their house: “one part was undamaged so we covered it with a tent and managed to sleep there, on the ground floor.” Seeing the suffering the earthquake had caused, and the work FPAN and other organisations were doing to alleviate it, cemented Rita’s decision to begin volunteering. “After the earthquake, when things got back to normal, I joined FPAN.” She also completed her nursing degree, which had been interrupted by the disaster. “Since joining FPAN, I have been very busy creating awareness about sexual rights and all kinds of things, and running Friday sexual education classes in schools,” Rita says. “And since I have a nursing background, people often come to me with problems, and I give them suggestions and share my knowledge with them.” She also hopes to become a staff nurse for FPAN. “If that opportunity comes my way, then I would definitely love to do it,” she says.

ミラン・カダカさん
story

| 29 November 2017

Meet the college student who uses his music to battle the stigma surrounding HIV

Milan Khadka was just ten years old when he lost both his parents to HIV. “When I lost my parents, I used to feel so alone, like I didn’t have anyone in the world,” he says. “Whenever I saw other children getting love from others, I used to feel that I also might get that kind of love if I hadn’t lost my parents.” Like thousands of Nepali children, Milan’s parents left Nepal for India in search of work. Milan grew up in India until he was ten, when his mother died of AIDS-related causes. The family then returned to Nepal, but just eight months later, his father also died, and Milan was left in the care of his grandmother. “After I lost my parents, I went for VCT [voluntary counselling and testing] to check if I had HIV in my body,” Milan says. “After I was diagnosed as HIV positive, slowly all the people in the area found out about my status and there was so much discrimination. My friends at school didn’t want to sit with me and they humiliated and bullied me,” he says. “At home, I had a separate sleeping area and sleeping materials, separate dishes and a separate comb for my hair. I had to sleep alone.” Things began to improve for Milan when he met a local woman called Lakshmi Kunwar. After discovering she was HIV-positive, Lakshmi had dedicated her life to helping people living with HIV in Palpa, working as a community home-based care mobiliser for the Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN) and other organisations. Struck by the plight of this small, orphaned boy, Lakshmi spoke to Milan’s family and teachers, who in turn spoke to his school mates. “After she spoke to my teachers, they started to support me,” Milan says. “And after getting information about HIV, my school friends started to like me and share things with me. And they said: ‘Milan has no one in this world, so we are the ones who must be with him. Who knows that what happened to him might not happen to us?” Lakshmi mentored him through school and college, encouraging him in his schoolwork. “Lakshmi is more than my mother,” he says. “My mother only gave birth to me but Lakshmi has looked after me all this time. Even if my mother was alive today, she might not do all the things for me that Lakshmi has done.” Milan went on to become a grade A student, regularly coming top of his class and leaving school with flying colours. Today, twenty-one-year-old Milan lives a busy and fulfilling life, juggling his college studies, his work as a community home-based care (CHBC) mobiliser for FPAN and a burgeoning music career. When not studying for a Bachelor’s of education at university in Tansen, he works as a CHBC mobiliser for FPAN, visiting villages in the area to raise awareness about how to prevent and treat HIV, and to distribute contraception. He also offers support to children living with HIV, explaining to them how he lost his parents and faced discrimination but now leads a happy and successful life. “There are 40 children in this area living with HIV,” he says. “I talk to them, collect information from them and help them get the support they need. And I tell them: ‘If I had given up at that time, I would not be like this now. So you also shouldn’t give up, and you have to live your life.” Watch Milan's story below:      

ミラン・カダカさん
story

| 27 May 2022

Meet the college student who uses his music to battle the stigma surrounding HIV

Milan Khadka was just ten years old when he lost both his parents to HIV. “When I lost my parents, I used to feel so alone, like I didn’t have anyone in the world,” he says. “Whenever I saw other children getting love from others, I used to feel that I also might get that kind of love if I hadn’t lost my parents.” Like thousands of Nepali children, Milan’s parents left Nepal for India in search of work. Milan grew up in India until he was ten, when his mother died of AIDS-related causes. The family then returned to Nepal, but just eight months later, his father also died, and Milan was left in the care of his grandmother. “After I lost my parents, I went for VCT [voluntary counselling and testing] to check if I had HIV in my body,” Milan says. “After I was diagnosed as HIV positive, slowly all the people in the area found out about my status and there was so much discrimination. My friends at school didn’t want to sit with me and they humiliated and bullied me,” he says. “At home, I had a separate sleeping area and sleeping materials, separate dishes and a separate comb for my hair. I had to sleep alone.” Things began to improve for Milan when he met a local woman called Lakshmi Kunwar. After discovering she was HIV-positive, Lakshmi had dedicated her life to helping people living with HIV in Palpa, working as a community home-based care mobiliser for the Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN) and other organisations. Struck by the plight of this small, orphaned boy, Lakshmi spoke to Milan’s family and teachers, who in turn spoke to his school mates. “After she spoke to my teachers, they started to support me,” Milan says. “And after getting information about HIV, my school friends started to like me and share things with me. And they said: ‘Milan has no one in this world, so we are the ones who must be with him. Who knows that what happened to him might not happen to us?” Lakshmi mentored him through school and college, encouraging him in his schoolwork. “Lakshmi is more than my mother,” he says. “My mother only gave birth to me but Lakshmi has looked after me all this time. Even if my mother was alive today, she might not do all the things for me that Lakshmi has done.” Milan went on to become a grade A student, regularly coming top of his class and leaving school with flying colours. Today, twenty-one-year-old Milan lives a busy and fulfilling life, juggling his college studies, his work as a community home-based care (CHBC) mobiliser for FPAN and a burgeoning music career. When not studying for a Bachelor’s of education at university in Tansen, he works as a CHBC mobiliser for FPAN, visiting villages in the area to raise awareness about how to prevent and treat HIV, and to distribute contraception. He also offers support to children living with HIV, explaining to them how he lost his parents and faced discrimination but now leads a happy and successful life. “There are 40 children in this area living with HIV,” he says. “I talk to them, collect information from them and help them get the support they need. And I tell them: ‘If I had given up at that time, I would not be like this now. So you also shouldn’t give up, and you have to live your life.” Watch Milan's story below:      

Woman sat down
story

| 12 September 2017

"I said to myself: I will live and I will let others living with HIV live"

Lakshmi Kunwar married young, at the age of 17. Shortly afterwards, Lakshmi’s husband, who worked as a migrant labourer in India, was diagnosed with HIV and died. “At that time, I was completely unaware of HIV,” Lakshmi says. “My husband had information that if someone is diagnosed with HIV, they will die very soon. So after he was diagnosed, he didn’t eat anything and he became very ill and after six months he died. He gave up.” Lakshmi contracted HIV too, and the early years of living with it were arduous. “It was a huge burden,” she says. “I didn’t want to eat anything so I ate very little. My weight at the time was 44 kilograms. I had different infections in my skin and allergies in her body. It was really a difficult time for me. … I was just waiting for my death. I got support from my home and in-laws but my neighbours started to discriminate against me – like they said HIV may transfer via different insects and parasites like lice.” Dedicating her life to help others Lakshmi’s life began to improve when she came across an organisation in Palpa that offered support to people living with HIV (PLHIV). “They told me that there is medicine for PLHIV which will prolong our lives,” she explains. “They took me to Kathmandu, where I got training and information on HIV and I started taking ARVs [antiretroviral drugs].” In Kathmandu Lakshmi decided that she would dedicate the rest of her life to supporting people living with HIV. “I made a plan that I would come back home [to Palpa], disclose my status and then do social work with other people living with HIV, so that they too may have hope to live. I said to myself: I will live and I will let others living with HIV live”. Stories Read more stories about our work with people living with HIV

Woman sat down
story

| 27 May 2022

"I said to myself: I will live and I will let others living with HIV live"

Lakshmi Kunwar married young, at the age of 17. Shortly afterwards, Lakshmi’s husband, who worked as a migrant labourer in India, was diagnosed with HIV and died. “At that time, I was completely unaware of HIV,” Lakshmi says. “My husband had information that if someone is diagnosed with HIV, they will die very soon. So after he was diagnosed, he didn’t eat anything and he became very ill and after six months he died. He gave up.” Lakshmi contracted HIV too, and the early years of living with it were arduous. “It was a huge burden,” she says. “I didn’t want to eat anything so I ate very little. My weight at the time was 44 kilograms. I had different infections in my skin and allergies in her body. It was really a difficult time for me. … I was just waiting for my death. I got support from my home and in-laws but my neighbours started to discriminate against me – like they said HIV may transfer via different insects and parasites like lice.” Dedicating her life to help others Lakshmi’s life began to improve when she came across an organisation in Palpa that offered support to people living with HIV (PLHIV). “They told me that there is medicine for PLHIV which will prolong our lives,” she explains. “They took me to Kathmandu, where I got training and information on HIV and I started taking ARVs [antiretroviral drugs].” In Kathmandu Lakshmi decided that she would dedicate the rest of her life to supporting people living with HIV. “I made a plan that I would come back home [to Palpa], disclose my status and then do social work with other people living with HIV, so that they too may have hope to live. I said to myself: I will live and I will let others living with HIV live”. Stories Read more stories about our work with people living with HIV

Woman's face
story

| 08 September 2017

“Attitudes of younger people to HIV are not changing fast"

“When I was 14, I was trafficked to India,” says 35-year-old Lakshmi Lama. “I was made unconscious and was taken to Mumbai. When I woke up, I didn’t even know that I had been trafficked, I didn’t know where I was.” Every year, thousands of Nepali women and girls are trafficked to India, some lured with the promise of domestic work only to find themselves in brothels or working as sex slaves. The visa-free border with India means the actual number of women and girls trafficked from Nepal is likely to be much higher. The earthquake of April 2015 also led to a surge in trafficking: women and girls living in tents or temporary housing, and young orphaned children were particularly vulnerable to traffickers. “I was in Mumbai for three years,” says Lakshmi. “Then I managed to send letters and photographs to my parents and eventually they came to Mumbai and helped rescue me from that place". During her time in India, Lakshmi contracted HIV. Life after her diagnosis was tough, Lakshmi explains. “When I was diagnosed with HIV, people used to discriminate saying, “you’ve got HIV and it might transfer to us so don’t come to our home, don’t touch us,’” she says. “It’s very challenging for people living with HIV in Nepal. People really suffer.” Today, Lakshmi lives in Banepa, a busy town around 25 kilometres east of Kathmandu. Things began to improve for her, she says, when she started attending HIV awareness classes run by Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN). Eventually she herself trained as an FPAN peer educator, and she now works hard visiting communities in Kavre, raising awareness about HIV prevention and treatment, and bringing people together to tackle stigma around the virus. The government needs to do far more to tackle HIV stigma in Nepal, particularly at village level, Lakshmi says, “Attitudes of younger people to HIV are not changing fast. People still say to me: ‘you have HIV, you may die soon’. There is so much stigma and discrimination in this community.” Stories Read more stories about our work with people living with HIV

Woman's face
story

| 27 May 2022

“Attitudes of younger people to HIV are not changing fast"

“When I was 14, I was trafficked to India,” says 35-year-old Lakshmi Lama. “I was made unconscious and was taken to Mumbai. When I woke up, I didn’t even know that I had been trafficked, I didn’t know where I was.” Every year, thousands of Nepali women and girls are trafficked to India, some lured with the promise of domestic work only to find themselves in brothels or working as sex slaves. The visa-free border with India means the actual number of women and girls trafficked from Nepal is likely to be much higher. The earthquake of April 2015 also led to a surge in trafficking: women and girls living in tents or temporary housing, and young orphaned children were particularly vulnerable to traffickers. “I was in Mumbai for three years,” says Lakshmi. “Then I managed to send letters and photographs to my parents and eventually they came to Mumbai and helped rescue me from that place". During her time in India, Lakshmi contracted HIV. Life after her diagnosis was tough, Lakshmi explains. “When I was diagnosed with HIV, people used to discriminate saying, “you’ve got HIV and it might transfer to us so don’t come to our home, don’t touch us,’” she says. “It’s very challenging for people living with HIV in Nepal. People really suffer.” Today, Lakshmi lives in Banepa, a busy town around 25 kilometres east of Kathmandu. Things began to improve for her, she says, when she started attending HIV awareness classes run by Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN). Eventually she herself trained as an FPAN peer educator, and she now works hard visiting communities in Kavre, raising awareness about HIV prevention and treatment, and bringing people together to tackle stigma around the virus. The government needs to do far more to tackle HIV stigma in Nepal, particularly at village level, Lakshmi says, “Attitudes of younger people to HIV are not changing fast. People still say to me: ‘you have HIV, you may die soon’. There is so much stigma and discrimination in this community.” Stories Read more stories about our work with people living with HIV

Woman sitting outside her home
story

| 08 September 2017

'My neighbours used to discriminate against me and I suffered violence at the hands of my community'

"My husband used to work in India, and when he came back, he got ill and died," says Durga Thame. "We didn’t know that he was HIV-positive, but then then later my daughter got sick with typhoid and went to hospital and was diagnosed with HIV and died, and then I was tested and was found positive." Her story is tragic, but one all too familiar for the women living in this region. Men often travel to India in search of work, where they contract HIV and upon their return infect their wives. For Durga, the death of her husband and daughter and her own HIV positive diagnosis threw her into despair.  "My neighbours used to discriminate against me … and I suffered violence at the hands of my community. Everybody used to say that they couldn’t eat whatever I cooked because they might get HIV." Then Durga heard about HIV education classes run by the Palpa branch of the Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN), a short bus journey up the road in Tansen, the capital of Palpa.  "At those meetings, I got information about HIV," she says. "When I came back to my village, I began telling my neighbours about HIV. They came to know the facts and they realised it was a myth that HIV could be transferred by sharing food. Then they began treating me well." FPAN ran nutrition, hygiene, sanitation and livelihood classes that helped Durga turn the fortunes of her small homestead around. Durga sells goats and hens, and with these earnings supports her family – her father-in-law and her surviving daughter, who she says has not yet been tested for HIV. "I want to educate my daughter," she says. "I really hope I can provide a better education for her." Stories Read more stories about our work with people living with HIV  

Woman sitting outside her home
story

| 27 May 2022

'My neighbours used to discriminate against me and I suffered violence at the hands of my community'

"My husband used to work in India, and when he came back, he got ill and died," says Durga Thame. "We didn’t know that he was HIV-positive, but then then later my daughter got sick with typhoid and went to hospital and was diagnosed with HIV and died, and then I was tested and was found positive." Her story is tragic, but one all too familiar for the women living in this region. Men often travel to India in search of work, where they contract HIV and upon their return infect their wives. For Durga, the death of her husband and daughter and her own HIV positive diagnosis threw her into despair.  "My neighbours used to discriminate against me … and I suffered violence at the hands of my community. Everybody used to say that they couldn’t eat whatever I cooked because they might get HIV." Then Durga heard about HIV education classes run by the Palpa branch of the Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN), a short bus journey up the road in Tansen, the capital of Palpa.  "At those meetings, I got information about HIV," she says. "When I came back to my village, I began telling my neighbours about HIV. They came to know the facts and they realised it was a myth that HIV could be transferred by sharing food. Then they began treating me well." FPAN ran nutrition, hygiene, sanitation and livelihood classes that helped Durga turn the fortunes of her small homestead around. Durga sells goats and hens, and with these earnings supports her family – her father-in-law and her surviving daughter, who she says has not yet been tested for HIV. "I want to educate my daughter," she says. "I really hope I can provide a better education for her." Stories Read more stories about our work with people living with HIV  

IPPF volunteer in Nepal for FPAN
story

| 25 July 2017

Female volunteers take the lead to deliver life critical health advice after the earthquake

“After the earthquake, there were so many problems. So many homes were destroyed. People are still living in temporary homes because they’re unable to rebuild their homes.” Pasang Tamang lives in Gatlang, high up in the mountains of northern Nepal, 15 kilometres from the Tibetan border. It is a sublimely beautiful village of traditional three-storied houses and Buddhist shrines resting on the slopes of a mountain and thronged by lush potato fields. The 2000 or so people living here are ethnic Tamang, a people of strong cultural traditions, who live across across Nepal but particularly in the lands bordering Tibet. The earthquake of 25 April had a devastating impact on Gatlang. Most of the traditional houses in the heart of the village were damaged or destroyed, and people were forced to move into small shacks of corrugated iron and plastic, where many still live. “Seven people died and three were injured and then later died,” says Pasang. These numbers might seems small compared to some casualty numbers in Nepal, but in a tightknit village like Gatlang, the impact was felt keenly. Hundreds of people were forced into tents. “People suffered badly from the cold,” Pasang says. “Some people caught pneumonia.” At 2240 metres above sea level, nighttime temperatures in Gatlang can plunge.  Pregnant women fared particularly badly: “They were unable to access nutritious food or find a warm place. They really suffered.” Pasang herself was badly injured. “During the earthquake, I was asleep in the house because I was ill,” she says. “When I felt the earthquake, I ran out of the house and while I was running I got injured, and my mouth was damaged.” Help was at hand . “After the earthquake, there were so many organisations that came to help, including FPAN,” Pasang says. As well as setting up health camps and providing a range of health care, “they provided family planning devices to people who were in need.” Hundreds of families still live in the corrugated iron and plastic sheds that were erected as a replacement for tents. The government has been slow to distribute funds, and the villagers say that any money they have received falls far short of the cost of rebuilding their old stone homes. Pasang’s house stands empty. “We will not be able to return home because the house is cracked and if there was another earthquake, it would be completely destroyed,” she says. Since the earthquake, she has begun working as a volunteer for FPAN. Her role involves travelling around villages in the area, raising awareness about different contraceptive methods and family planning. Volunteers like Pasang perform a crucial function in a region where literacy levels and a strongly patriarchal culture mean that women marry young and have to get consent from their husbands before using contraception. In this remote community, direct contact with a volunteer who can offer advice and guidance orally, and talk to women about their broader health needs, is absolutely vital.

IPPF volunteer in Nepal for FPAN
story

| 27 May 2022

Female volunteers take the lead to deliver life critical health advice after the earthquake

“After the earthquake, there were so many problems. So many homes were destroyed. People are still living in temporary homes because they’re unable to rebuild their homes.” Pasang Tamang lives in Gatlang, high up in the mountains of northern Nepal, 15 kilometres from the Tibetan border. It is a sublimely beautiful village of traditional three-storied houses and Buddhist shrines resting on the slopes of a mountain and thronged by lush potato fields. The 2000 or so people living here are ethnic Tamang, a people of strong cultural traditions, who live across across Nepal but particularly in the lands bordering Tibet. The earthquake of 25 April had a devastating impact on Gatlang. Most of the traditional houses in the heart of the village were damaged or destroyed, and people were forced to move into small shacks of corrugated iron and plastic, where many still live. “Seven people died and three were injured and then later died,” says Pasang. These numbers might seems small compared to some casualty numbers in Nepal, but in a tightknit village like Gatlang, the impact was felt keenly. Hundreds of people were forced into tents. “People suffered badly from the cold,” Pasang says. “Some people caught pneumonia.” At 2240 metres above sea level, nighttime temperatures in Gatlang can plunge.  Pregnant women fared particularly badly: “They were unable to access nutritious food or find a warm place. They really suffered.” Pasang herself was badly injured. “During the earthquake, I was asleep in the house because I was ill,” she says. “When I felt the earthquake, I ran out of the house and while I was running I got injured, and my mouth was damaged.” Help was at hand . “After the earthquake, there were so many organisations that came to help, including FPAN,” Pasang says. As well as setting up health camps and providing a range of health care, “they provided family planning devices to people who were in need.” Hundreds of families still live in the corrugated iron and plastic sheds that were erected as a replacement for tents. The government has been slow to distribute funds, and the villagers say that any money they have received falls far short of the cost of rebuilding their old stone homes. Pasang’s house stands empty. “We will not be able to return home because the house is cracked and if there was another earthquake, it would be completely destroyed,” she says. Since the earthquake, she has begun working as a volunteer for FPAN. Her role involves travelling around villages in the area, raising awareness about different contraceptive methods and family planning. Volunteers like Pasang perform a crucial function in a region where literacy levels and a strongly patriarchal culture mean that women marry young and have to get consent from their husbands before using contraception. In this remote community, direct contact with a volunteer who can offer advice and guidance orally, and talk to women about their broader health needs, is absolutely vital.

Young nepalese volunteer from IPPF in Nepal, FPAN
story

| 25 July 2017

Thousands of young volunteers join us after the earthquake

The April 2015 earthquake in Nepal brought death and devastation to thousands of people – from which many are still recovering. But there was one positive outcome: after the earthquake, thousands of young people came forward to support those affected as volunteers. For Rita Tukanbanjar, a twenty-two-year-old nurse from Bhaktapur in the Kathmandu Valley, the earthquake was an eye-opening ordeal: it gave her first-hand experience of the different ways that natural disasters can affect people, particularly women and girls. “After the earthquake, FPAN was organising menstrual hygiene classes for affected people, and I took part in these,” she says. The earthquake severely affected people’s access to healthcare, but women and girls were particularly vulnerable: living in tents can make menstrual hygiene difficult, and most aid agencies tend to neglect these needs and forget to factor them into relief efforts. “After the earthquake, lots of people were living in tents, as most of the houses had collapsed,” Rita says. “During that time, the girls, especially, were facing a lot of problems maintaining their menstrual hygiene. All the shops and services for menstrual hygiene were closed.” This makes FPAN’s work even more vital. The organisation stepped into the breach and organised classes on menstrual hygiene and taught women and girls how to make sanitary pads from scratch. This was not only useful during the earthquake, but provided valuable knowledge for women and girls to use in normal life too, Rita says: “From that time on wards, women are still making their own sanitary pads.” In an impoverished country like Nepal, many women and girls can simply not afford to buy sanitary pads and tampons. Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world with gross domestic product per capita of just $691 in 2014. In this largely patriarchal culture, the needs of women often come low down in a family’s priorities. “This is very important work and very useful,” Rita says. The women and girls also learned about how to protect themselves from sexual violence, which saw a surge in the weeks after the earthquake, with men preying on people living in tents and temporary shacks. Rita and her family lived in a tent for 20 days. “There was always the fear of getting abused,” she says. Eventually they managed to return home to live in the ruins of their house: “one part was undamaged so we covered it with a tent and managed to sleep there, on the ground floor.” Seeing the suffering the earthquake had caused, and the work FPAN and other organisations were doing to alleviate it, cemented Rita’s decision to begin volunteering. “After the earthquake, when things got back to normal, I joined FPAN.” She also completed her nursing degree, which had been interrupted by the disaster. “Since joining FPAN, I have been very busy creating awareness about sexual rights and all kinds of things, and running Friday sexual education classes in schools,” Rita says. “And since I have a nursing background, people often come to me with problems, and I give them suggestions and share my knowledge with them.” She also hopes to become a staff nurse for FPAN. “If that opportunity comes my way, then I would definitely love to do it,” she says.

Young nepalese volunteer from IPPF in Nepal, FPAN
story

| 27 May 2022

Thousands of young volunteers join us after the earthquake

The April 2015 earthquake in Nepal brought death and devastation to thousands of people – from which many are still recovering. But there was one positive outcome: after the earthquake, thousands of young people came forward to support those affected as volunteers. For Rita Tukanbanjar, a twenty-two-year-old nurse from Bhaktapur in the Kathmandu Valley, the earthquake was an eye-opening ordeal: it gave her first-hand experience of the different ways that natural disasters can affect people, particularly women and girls. “After the earthquake, FPAN was organising menstrual hygiene classes for affected people, and I took part in these,” she says. The earthquake severely affected people’s access to healthcare, but women and girls were particularly vulnerable: living in tents can make menstrual hygiene difficult, and most aid agencies tend to neglect these needs and forget to factor them into relief efforts. “After the earthquake, lots of people were living in tents, as most of the houses had collapsed,” Rita says. “During that time, the girls, especially, were facing a lot of problems maintaining their menstrual hygiene. All the shops and services for menstrual hygiene were closed.” This makes FPAN’s work even more vital. The organisation stepped into the breach and organised classes on menstrual hygiene and taught women and girls how to make sanitary pads from scratch. This was not only useful during the earthquake, but provided valuable knowledge for women and girls to use in normal life too, Rita says: “From that time on wards, women are still making their own sanitary pads.” In an impoverished country like Nepal, many women and girls can simply not afford to buy sanitary pads and tampons. Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world with gross domestic product per capita of just $691 in 2014. In this largely patriarchal culture, the needs of women often come low down in a family’s priorities. “This is very important work and very useful,” Rita says. The women and girls also learned about how to protect themselves from sexual violence, which saw a surge in the weeks after the earthquake, with men preying on people living in tents and temporary shacks. Rita and her family lived in a tent for 20 days. “There was always the fear of getting abused,” she says. Eventually they managed to return home to live in the ruins of their house: “one part was undamaged so we covered it with a tent and managed to sleep there, on the ground floor.” Seeing the suffering the earthquake had caused, and the work FPAN and other organisations were doing to alleviate it, cemented Rita’s decision to begin volunteering. “After the earthquake, when things got back to normal, I joined FPAN.” She also completed her nursing degree, which had been interrupted by the disaster. “Since joining FPAN, I have been very busy creating awareness about sexual rights and all kinds of things, and running Friday sexual education classes in schools,” Rita says. “And since I have a nursing background, people often come to me with problems, and I give them suggestions and share my knowledge with them.” She also hopes to become a staff nurse for FPAN. “If that opportunity comes my way, then I would definitely love to do it,” she says.